As digital and medical technologies continue to evolve, healthcare organizations and physician practices face continuous pressure to protect and secure patient privacy. Simultaneously, technology has made communication so much easier, and most patients are now demanding more transparent communication with their healthcare provider in the forms of email, text messaging, social media direct messages, and sometimes even video.
Balancing this demand while simultaneously protecting patients’ health records has become increasingly difficult. Yet doctors are always trying to strengthen their doctor-patient relationships. But the question remains: can doctors build stronger doctor-patient bonds while remaining HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant?
Failure to comply with these healthcare record guidelines can make health care providers and practices susceptible to criminal charges and civil action lawsuits. Healthcare compliance must, therefore, consistently comply with HIPPA measurements and regulations.
The following steps address how medical providers can provide effective patient communication while still adhering to HIPAA regulations in the digital age.
- Communicate HIPAA privacy rights with patients.
HIPAA requires that physicians give their patients a notice of privacy practices (NPP) that addresses their privacy rights and how physicians may use or disclose their PHI. However, this is best done in person with the patient. It is essential to always have NPP documents on hand to ensure that you still meet government standards.
- Drawing the line with patient communication.
There is no question that mobile communication is now part of the healthcare industry and that patients are eager to communicate using electronic devices. When communicating with or about patients, doctors should not share patient information through text, photos, or videos without their expressed consent. Doctors should never disclose information to unauthorized individuals or on social media or other online outlets. By doing so, practitioners won’t jeopardize patient privacy or your practice’s reputation.
- Handling security risks and breaches.
With digital age communication, external threats such as security breaches and hacks have become more common. Psychiatric practices can decrease the possibility of a security breach by creating a single point of contact for handling such conflicts. If a breach does occur, medical practitioners need to notify the affected individuals per the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule.
Digital and medical technologies are always evolving, making this a double-edged sword for medical centers and practices. It makes communication more accessible but also increases the risk of HIPAA violations. Medical providers can follow the tips mentioned above to provide effective patient communication while still adhering to HIPAA healthcare record guidelines.