Are you planning to move your medical practice to a new location in the near future? It's not uncommon for doctors to move their facility of operations to support growth. Relocating to a busier part of time, for instance, may attract more patients while establishing yourself as an authority figure in your respective field of medicine. But you need to place an emphasis on patient privacy when relocating to a new area, which is something that we're going to discuss today.
The Importance of Patient Privacy When Relocating
If you keep up with our blog, you are probably familiar with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Signed into law back in 1996, it details the way in which doctors and other covered entities are allowed to use the personally identifiable information of their patients. For instance, doctors are prohibited from disclosing Protected Health Information (PHI) without the patient's written consent.
This creates a new hurdle for the already tedious and cumbersome task of relocating a medical practice. Because covered entities that fail to take meaningful and appropriate measures to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of PHI could be found in violation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
Convert Paper Records into Digital Records
One tip to help ease the worries of relocating your medical practice is to convert paper patient records into digital records. The truth is that most doctors and covered entities already use digital records, but some continue to rely on paper records. Transporting these paper records increases the risk of a data breach; some of the records may get lost during transit; they could end up at the wrong location; or an unauthorized individual may steal or unknowingly take them. All of these instances could be viewed as a violation of HIPAA if the covered entity did not take the appropriate steps to protect the files.
Converting your paper files into digital files, however, is a simple way to reduce the risk of a data breach. Rather than physically moving your patients' files, you can simply upload the digital copies to a secure cloud platform (make sure they are HIPAA compliant), at which point you can access them from your new location.
Other HIPAA Tips to Follow When Relocating:
- Make sure the new location has sufficient physical safeguards in place, such as locked doors, locked windows, access control systems, etc.
- Conduct a risk analysis upon moving to identify any new security risks.
- Safeguard PHI while it's being transferred to your new location.
- If you intend to work with any new associates at your new location, create the necessary business associates agreements.