In a world of data breaches and ominous news about stolen data, Protected Health Information (PHI) presents an around-the-clock challenge for healthcare systems and private practices. PHI and the U.S. government’s Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) concerns go well beyond internal safeguarding of data. Organizations must protect their current and past patients’ data online.

Failure to do so will not only result in immediate patient distrust and possible civil lawsuits. The U.S. government’s enforcement of HIPPA violations can result in serious fines and jail time. The penalties for HIPAA noncompliance ranges from $100 to $50,000 per violation (record), with a maximum penalty of $1.5 million. Violations can also result in 1 to 10 years of jail time, and the possibility of an additional 2 years if aggravated identity theft has occurred.

Definition and Examples of PHI

HIPPA defines PHI data as identifiable health information transmitted by an entity or associate, in any form or medium, whether electronic, on paper, or oral. This leaves unprepared health organizations and independent practices extremely vulnerable and at risk. Examples of PHI could include anything from a name to phone number to financial information. Data covered by PHI is listed in countless files during treatment and billing, and if it’s not protected at every step in every location, the practice or organization is at risk.

Even if hackers don’t find or steal the PHI data, health systems or private practices that violate the HIPPA laws could receive both fines and jail time. This covers any part of the patient journey, including storing, transferring, securing, and sharing the protected data with colleagues or patients.

Document Management for Health Organizations

Electronic medical records (EMR) are becoming a standard in the healthcare industry, but not everyone has moved away from paper. In fact, statistics show that an average healthcare group spends 8.56% of its annual revenues on printing. Not only do costs pile up, but the sheer amount of paper makes it harder to safeguard PHI.

If documents aren’t properly stored or destroyed, personal data is easier to find and use against the patient. Paper records makes it more difficult to guarantee employees are vigilant and that patients don’t contribute to possible mismanagement of covered data.

Paper files can also make healthcare providers less efficient during treatment or referrals. In the end, paper can open a healthcare group up to lawsuits, jail time, angry patients, a decrease in referrals, and an immediate impact on community standings.

Efficient and Compliant Protected Health Information

Whether small or large, healthcare organizations need a trusted IT provider to help protect and improve PHI storage and transfer. The right IT provider will also help healthcare professionals save costs by making sure the hardware and software are used to their maximum potential, ensuring data security. Below are the three services that can be managed by an IT provider to save money and improve efficiency.

1. Managed Document Services

The IT provider should review your devices, how they’re used, and provide HIPPA-secure processes to reduce PHI risk. The review can be customized and shared with any employee that has access to PHI. This can assist with HIPPA compliance from the most complex error like a security breach, or a simple printer error where patient data is going to an unsecured site.

In addition, document capture solutions will convert paper into digital files, which makes it easier to share, secure, and transfer files. This not only increases the efficiency of treatments and referrals, but it can also reduce monthly expenditures for repeat visits or tests.

2. Managed Network Services

Decrease expenses, while increasing security, with an experienced network service provider. The right IT provider will help you streamline the processes and provide the proper level of support services your group requires – which means you won’t pay for services you don’t need. An IT provider should also help monitor your network remotely to protect against potential problems, increase security with antivirus services, and provide timely assistance if there is a breach.

3. Managed Print Services

Find out what you are spending and how you can save money with cost-per-page analysis. This will help organizations ensure they are doing their part to lower the rising costs of healthcare and improve efficiency. Your IT provider should also monitor the supplies (like toner or paper) to further reduce costs and save downtime in between supply orders.

How to Turn a Protected Health Information Challenge into a Success

Healthcare organizations face enough challenges helping patients without adding constant concerns about HIPPA noncompliance and PHI data breaches. It’s up to management and their provider to remain vigilant, but the right IT provider can help remove some of the security uncertainty. As well as ,peace of mind, there are countless cost savings and efficiency benefits to selecting an IT partner you can count on.

Contact Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises today for the right technology for your healthcare needs.