HIPAA-Compliant Patient Payment Process: Guidelines and Best Practices
As a healthcare provider, it is essential to ensure that your patient payment process complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA is a federal law that sets the standards for protecting sensitive patient data. Failing to comply with HIPAA can result in serious legal and financial consequences.
When it comes to breaches in the healthcare industry, it is commonly believed that they are primarily caused by equipment theft, hacking, malware or ransomware attacks, or physical break-ins of offices. However, according to the Verizon® Data Breach Investigations Report, the reality is that 31% of healthcare industry breaches are a result of basic human error. The most frequent errors fall into two categories: sending emails to incorrect addresses or mass mailing envelopes with addresses that do not align with the contents of the mail. Additionally, it is important to note that Protected Health Information (PHI) encompasses more than just a patient’s name, date of birth, medical records, and insurance information. It also includes information that could potentially identify them, such as credit card numbers.
This article will examine the essential criteria necessary to ensure that your patient payment procedures conform to HIPAA regulations. Additionally, we will explore the vital role played by medical billing software in achieving this objective.
- Authorization: Before collecting payment, ensure that you have obtained proper authorization from the patient. This includes obtaining their consent to collect payment and their agreement to pay for the services rendered. It is also important to ensure that the payment information you collect is stored securely and only accessible to authorized personnel.
- Security: In accordance with HIPAA regulations, it is mandatory to ensure the confidentiality and protection of all patient information, including payment data, to prevent unauthorized access. This necessitates the implementation of security measures like firewalls, encryption, and access controls. expEDIum provides a secure platform to process and store payment information, and this includes the feature expEDIum Direct Pay for seamless online payments from the patient ledger. Our software uses the PCI-DSS certified expEDIum Pay to route payment transactions through InstaMed® (a J.P. Morgan company). It acts as an intermediary between expEDIum Direct Pay and InstaMed®. Simply put, it may be judicious to consider seeking out features similar to this when selecting a billing software.
- Training: It is important to train your staff on HIPAA regulations and ensure that they understand the importance of protecting patient information. This includes training on how to collect payment information securely and how to respond to potential security breaches. A billing software can provide a user-friendly interface for staff to access payment information while also enforcing strict security protocols.
- Transparency: Patients have the right to know how their payment information is being collected and used. It is important to provide clear and concise explanations to patients regarding your patient payment process and how their information will be used. Get in touch with billing and RCM experts who can guide you through the entire process. Also, a billing software can provide payment receipts and secure communication to patients to ensure transparency in the payment process.
- Audit trails: As best of practice, providers should maintain a detailed record of all payment transactions. This includes information on who collected the payment, when it was collected, and how it was processed. RCM professionals, who are responsible for overseeing the financial aspects of healthcare organizations, can benefit from medical billing software that provides audit trails to ensure compliance and maintain accurate records of payment transactions.
In conclusion, it is crucial to ensure that your patient payment process is HIPAA compliant to protect the sensitive information of your patients. A medical billing software can play an important role in achieving this goal by providing a secure platform for patient payment, enforcing strict security protocols, providing automated payment receipts and communication to patients, and maintaining detailed audit trails. By implementing these key criteria, you can ensure that your patient payment is in compliance with HIPAA regulations and protect the reputation and success of your practice.
If you would like to know more about our patient payment solution and software solutions, please do reach out to us here.