Managing Medical Records and Maintaining HIPAA Compliance
Hardcopy paper medical records are notoriously vulnerable to security violations. Hazards ranging anywhere from unprotected FTP access to normal (and unfortunately common) human error make medical file storage a challenge for healthcare providers everywhere.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) instituted guidelines for the secure handling of clients’ Protected Health Information – or PHI – and officials follow through with strict recourse anytime an agency fails to maintain compliance.
So we’ve decided to organize a couple of best-practice strategies to help you ensure the security of your medical office filing systems:
Dedicate Secure Storage Space
Store paper charts and medical files in areas away from other records or equipment. Some organizations make the mistake of combining medical records storage with general storage, which increases the risk of exposing PHI to unnecessary individuals.
Patient records should be kept somewhere that isn’t accessible (or even visible) to unauthorized personnel. Installing a specific application dedicated to health records storage will guard against breaching patient confidentiality. With the right storage solutions, you can protect medical files wherever they travel through your facilities.
Establish Firm Retrieval and Handling Procedures
Even after your records are physically secure, you should develop and implement a firm policy for their retrieval and handling. Written policies and procedures hold record handlers accountable to ethical and regulatory standards. They can be written to account for everything from collecting records to packaging and delivery.
Once your policies have been created and approved, you may consider providing training or in-service presentations to educate your staff on how to appropriately interact with patient records and PHI.
Verify that all of your employees fully understand the agency’s safety and security policies before they’re authorized to access patient charts. Ongoing competency assessments can also help to maintain the integrity of your record handling process.
WallWrite® by Datum
Datum’s WallWrite system is an invaluable file management tool for hospitals and medical practices. It is a secure wall-mounted filing solution that allows staff to lock down medical records while they’re in use in patient rooms and other vulnerable areas. WallWrite combines secure file storage with a convenient work station, including storage for instruments and supplies, all in a compact unit that fits seamlessly into hallways and other tight spaces. WallWrite offers a flip-down working surface, a locking door and a magnetic closure mechanism tailored to ensure HIPAA-standard security.
With WallWrite, you can give your staff the tools they need to work efficiently and keep patient files secure wherever they travel throughout the day. And like all of our storage solutions, WallWrite is customizable, so you can specify units that complement your existing facilities. So reach out and talk to us about your medical records storage needs. We’ll work with you to customize and personalize a filing system that’s safe, secure, and HIPAA-compliant across the board.