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Those who work in the healthcare industry should be all too familiar with HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The United States Congress enacted HIPAA in 1996 in order to create regulations surrounding the storage and transferring of protected health information (PHI) while reducing healthcare-related fraud and abuse.

HIPAA first and foremost sets standards by which anyone who provides healthcare to patients must abide by. HIPAA also allows individuals to feel confident knowing their data is protected and confidential at all times. Essentially, HIPAA prevents doctors from discussing or sharing patient information while ensuring patients can have access to their data when needed.

While HIPAA seems like quite the hassle for healthcare providers, it’s vital for you to ensure you’re doing your part to maintain compliance. When thinking about HIPAA, keep in mind these four aspects of the law and how they relate to you and your organization:

  1. The Privacy Rule: This rule creates a set of standards wherein the use and transmission of patient health information is subject to various conditions and limits.
  2. The Security Rule: This rule sets out a requirement for covered entities to put physical, administrative, and technical safeguards in place prior to transmitting patient health information.
  3. The Breach Notification Rule: This rule states that patients must be notified in the event of a covered entity experiencing a security breach wherein health information is lost, revealed, or stolen.
  4. The Final Rule: This rule is also commonly referred to as the “enforcement rule” wherein those covered entities that fail to comply with all rules and regulations will be subject to criminal penalties.

What makes these four aspects of the law so important for healthcare providers? They exist to protect your patients in terms of privacy and confidentiality. Consider this: healthcare information is filled with addresses, dates of birth, social security number, and financial information. This means healthcare information is a cybercriminals/identity theft’s dream come true.

Are healthcare providers required to store patient records for a certain about of time?

Most healthcare providers are unclear of their requirements when it comes to retaining patient health information. In fact, most medical practices are failing to properly store and release such information, resulting in preventable legal action and/or penalties in the event of a breach.

Medical practices are required to maintain their records for a minimum of seven years from the date of the last time the patient was seen. If the patient happens to be a minor, they may have to retain the records until the patient reaches the age of eighteen, depending on circumstances.

Clinics and hospitals, on the other hand, may be required to retain their records for up to thirty years, depending on circumstances, after the final treatment and/or discharge occurs. If a physician has retired, they must retain their records or pass them onto their successor for seven years as well.

How long can a healthcare provider take to supply the requested patient records?

According to HIPAA, healthcare providers only have 30 days to provide the requested patient records, as long as they are maintained on-site. If they’re maintained at an off-site location, healthcare providers will be able to take 60 days to provide the requested patient records.

Massachusetts law and HIPAA both provide patients with the right to file a complaint in the event that their rights are violated. A complaint can be filed with the federal government’s Office for Civil Rights or the Mass. Board of Registration in Medicine. As you can imagine, it’s less costly to comply with HIPAA than receive a formal complaint.

Introducing ChartViewer: The Solution You Need to Retain Patient Information in a Secure, Structured Manner!

ChartViewer, a solution designed to help practices keep their legacy EMR or EHR data in a secure, structured manner, is available in a standalone format or it can be launched within a new system you’re implementing. This makes it incredibly handy for those who are currently running an outdated EMR/EHR system or those who are running two systems at once.

If you’re running two systems at once because you’re afraid to lose data from the legacy system, our solution works perfectly. You’re able to maintain access to all of your data, which means you’re able to make better care decisions while staying compliant with rules and regulations.

ChartViewer offers a multitude of features, including the following:

  • Multi-tenant, single-sign-on capabilities
  • Scalability in terms of size/number of users
  • A search engine for filtering/retrieving data
  • Cloud management of backup, security, and storage
  • User-defined security permission levels
  • And much more

Plus, all logins will be tracked and audited for compliance purposes, so you’re always aware of what’s being accessed, by who, and when.

Who is Global Data Systems?

Global Data Systems has been around since 1991 providing a range of services – from cloud computing to managed services to network security and everything in between – for the purpose of helping healthcare organizations thrive in today’s increasingly complex healthcare industry. ChartViewer was created to help you consolidate or upgrade your systems. Click here to find out more.

GDS works with Local Hospitals, Covered Entities and Business Associates Across the United States.

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