Patient Records Theft
Maintaining the security and privacy of patient records is an ongoing concern for healthcare providers. The urgency was underscored by a recent SEC filing by publicly traded hospital operator Community Health Systems that revealed a major breach of their electronic system between April and June of 2014.
The incident compromised the names, Social Security numbers and addresses for 4.5 million patients. This ranks as the third-largest theft of patient data on record, according to statistics from the U.S. Office of Civil Rights. The largest breach to date occurred earlier this year when the 80 million customer database of health insurance giant Anthem was hacked.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was created in large part to provide protection against cyber attacks such as this one. While fines for individual violations are capped at $1.5 million, there is no theoretical maximum fine for a breach, making these incidents incredibly costly in more ways than one.
The experience suffered by Community Health Systems demonstrates how crucial HIPAA compliance is for the entire industry. HIPAA regulations cover all healthcare providers as well as “business associates,” third-party companies and organizations that handle protected health information during the course of their interactions with providers.
Your practice needs to take advantage of every tool available to maintain the security of your patient records. All operators for our live telephone answering service receive ongoing training in HIPAA regulations. In addition, they are randomly tested to assure that they are maintaining 100 percent compliance. Contact us for an effective service plan that is customized to meet your specific needs.