HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability ACT, is what ensures that medical professionals keep our personal information safe. Not only does it ensure that your medical information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands, it also provides you with complete access to your medical records at all times, and it allows you to decide who gets to speak on your behalf should you find yourself unable to communicate.
Ensuring you’re HIPAA compliant is the law. The tricky part is knowing who has to follow the law! It’s obvious that your doctor’s office must, but it may surprise you to learn that there are many other businesses that must follow it as well.
Chances are, learning that nursing homes have to follow HIPAA policies isn’t all that surprising, but you may not have thought about it before!
Because every professional member of the nursing home community deals with residents and their medical needs, they must ensure the entire operation is HIPAA compliant. However, there are always exceptions to every rule:
- Nursing homes can disclose some important informationto the Social Security Administration
- Health information can be disclosed if the patient is a member of a health research study
- Personal information may be divulged in the case of abuse
- Information may also be shared in the event of a public health emergency
Have you thought about the rules that billing services have to follow? If those billing services count medical professionals among their clients, they must also be HIPAA compliant.
Not only does that include the billing department at your local doctor’s office, but it also includes any billing department that deals with medical information. From third-party debt collectors to insurance companies, they all must comply.
Medical Transcription Services
Medical transcriptionists work behind the scenes, so many people don’t even know they exist. They translate voice recordings and review medical documents by interpreting medical terminology and clarifying abbreviations.
In some cases, medical transcriptionists deal directly with patient information, translating medical histories and discharge summaries. That means they have to be HIPAA compliant too.
External Auditors and Accountants
You might expect accountants to be the furthest removed from HIPAA policies, but if they work with any kind of medical professional, they have to be HIPAA compliant as well.
For large medical companies that hire their own in-house accountants, making sure they’re compliant is relatively easy. However, auditors and accountants who are hired as independent contractors must make sure they are compliant as well. That’s why some small-firm auditors and accountants don’t work with medical professionals.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability ACT touches a wide range of professions, and for good reason. We all deserve to know that our most personal information is under lock and key. Without these protections, your personal information could get into the wrong hands.
But the most interesting part of this act is just how many businesses it affects, some of which are very surprising!