Medical records are filled with personal information regarding the patient’s health and other sensitive data, granting some of the highest levels of protection under the law. Therefore, you must know how to store medical records safely.
Doctor-patient privilege has been a long-standing legal concept and in most states, serves as a law protecting medical record privacy. In addition, federal statutes, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), set the standards to protect sensitive health information. Violations can result in heavy fines or even imprisonment.
Record Nations is here to help you comply with this complete guide on how to store medical records. By the end of this article, you will know which contents of your medical records are confidential, more about HIPAA, and the options for you to keep in compliance.
Contents of Medical Records to Keep Safe
Medical charts, health records, and medical records are terms that, to an extent, are used interchangeably. They describe a system of documenting an individual’s medical history and care over time within one healthcare professional’s jurisdiction. They allow health professionals to more easily provide care.
During care, the health professional will enter notes and other information to record the administration of therapies and drugs. Traditional records can include notes about admissions, progress notes, operative notes, postpartum notes, delivery notes, and notes about the patient’s discharge from the facility. In any case, accurate and thorough records are required to remain certified or licensed to practice.
Along with the medical history of the patient, medical records are also used to identify patients. Both paper records and electronic records include a patient’s personal health information (PHI). This includes names, phone numbers, addresses, and Social Security Numbers. Thieves can use this information for identity theft. Additional information included in the record will depend upon the patient’s medical history.
Up until recently, the patient could not control what it contained. However, patients can now review their records and voice any objections regarding the accuracy of entries recorded.
A Note on Patient Privacy
Although there is such a thing as patient confidentiality, medical records have not always been kept so private. HIPAA, passed by Congress in 1996, requires the confidential handling and privacy of protected health information.
HIPAA also provides millions of workers in America with the ability to continue their insurance coverage by transferring it if they lose or change their jobs. At the same time, it reduces abuse and fraud in the industry.
Privacy regulations in HIPAA require that healthcare organizations, providers, and business associates, not only develop procedures ensuring the security and confidentiality of health information that is protected upon transferring, receiving, handling, or sharing, but they must strictly follow these protocols.
HIPAA protects all health information, whether it’s oral, on paper, or electronic. HIPAA also requires that only information that is necessary for conducting business should be shared or used.
How to Store Medical Records With Compliance
The switch to a digital filing system for EHRs allows for more efficiency and security in the management of patient information. EHRs combined with HIPAA compliance software will give you all the tools to address the full extent of the law’s requirements.
The software will help address things like self-audits, privacy and security standards, remediation plans, policies, procedures, employee training, incident management, and more.
In conjunction with a digital filing system comes off-site storage services. For certain files and records that have a required retention period in physical form, off-site storage services are a perfectly reliable way to keep those documents safe.
With climate control, 24-hour surveillance, and fast document retrieval options, storing your documents off-site keeps your patient’s information safe from data breaches and identity theft. When the records reach the end of their retention, your service provider will shred them for you as well.
Backfile and Day-Forward Scanning
Backfile scanning allows you to convert your archived files in bulk. You choose which files to convert to digital based on necessity, making the process fast and efficient.
Day-forward scanning gives you the flexibility to transition from your old document management system to a secure and convenient EHR System. You just choose a date you want to start scanning. The service provider will scan all old records as well as any new ones that come in.
Optical Character Recognition and Data Abstraction
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and data abstraction services ensure all your patient records have accurate information. You can modify or edit your patient files quickly, neatly, and easily. OCR gives you the ability to search and index every aspect of your files with a quick keyword search. This way, all of your patient’s medical records will be easily accessible, updated, and accurate, which are all HIPAA requirements.
Start Storing Medical Records Safely Today!
If you’re a medical practice looking for any of the services above, fill out the form, use the live chat, or give us a call at (866) 385-3706.
Within minutes of receiving your request, you will have free quotes from experts in your area. Our highly-trained, friendly experts are here to help.