3 Simple and Effective Ways Dentists Keep their Billing and Coding HIPAA Compliant in 2021 (Guest Blog)

We’re dwelling in an age the place knowledge safety is without doubt one of the main considerations for each trade.

Nevertheless, when you’re a healthcare skilled, sustaining optimum safety turns into all of the extra essential on condition that knowledge breaches are at an all-time excessive inside our sector. There are quite a lot of tales usually doing the rounds about hefty penalties being thrust upon well-established trade leaders even— most instances resulting from violations that could possibly be utterly averted.

To that finish, adhering to the laws and guidelines laid down within the Well being Insurance coverage Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is very vital for the sleek functioning of your dental care facility. 

Billing and coding isn’t any exception to this.

If you happen to’re a dental care supplier training in america, it’s best to reasonably regard HIPAA as your safety bible. And whereas this text essentially focuses on the billing side, you will need to keep in mind that HIPAA can by no means be utilized to at least one single organizational perform solely and that it governs each single side of care supply. 

Listed below are a couple of helpful ideas for retaining your dental observe’s billing and coding HIPAA-approved. 

1) Make use of Strong Measures to Guarantee Safety of Delicate Knowledge

Over the last decade alone, greater than 3,054 healthcare knowledge breaches involving 500 or extra information have been tried. These breaches have resulted in impermissible disclosures, losses, thefts, and undesirable exposures of roughly 230,954,151 well being information, which roughly equates to 70% of the entire inhabitants of the US. 

Add the continued COVID-10 well being emergency to the combo, issues solely worsen.

Now, think about the enormity of this downside!

As soon as the confidentiality of affected person knowledge will get compromised, the resultant damaging ripple results will be felt throughout the whole care continuum. Sufferers find yourself dropping belief within the system and income goes for a whole toss.

So far as dental billing/ coding is worried, securing delicate knowledge with encryption is the very best resolution. Encrypting this knowledge is very vital when it leaves your facility’s safe community to be shared with an exterior supply (e.g., a teleradiology community, a referring dentist’s workplace, a affected person portal, and many others). 

Not simply the information in transit, encrypting saved billing knowledge at relaxation is of equal significance. Doing this furnishes a supplemental layer of safety that retains intruders from decoding and sharing crucial info, even when they in some way handle to achieve entry to the first supply of information storage inside your group.

Healthcare organizations must also be certain they’ve a sturdy restoration plan in place for his or her billing knowledge, in addition to a reliable, always-available backup copy—both saved on the net, or in an exterior gadget. 

One of many methods during which this may be accomplished is by storing your knowledge on a HIPAA-compliant cloud server. Such a distant storage supply ensures most safety whereas preserving the power for licensed people to entry needed knowledge just about wherever, anytime. And even when a breach happens, you’ll simply be capable to restore your entire knowledge again to a different system.

2) Proactively Educate your Workers about Compliance Protocols

There’s extra to HIPAA compliance than merely using software program options, robust passwords, or encryption to safe your billing/coding knowledge. All of this may solely show to be helpful if the primary factors of contact inside your group, i.e. the members of your workers, are effectively skilled.

Since each billing and coding normally revolve round dealing with sufferers’ private info (together with their insurance coverage particulars, digital well being information, and bank card numbers), these answerable for finishing up these processes inside your group are legally required to safeguard this info.

Thus, it’s of crucial significance for healthcare suppliers to teach workers on keep compliance always. It actually doesn’t matter how massive or small your observe is, each single worker ought to know the fundamentals of compliance and different particulars associated to its protocols. 

Now, to ensure that that to occur, your workers requires some type of formal HIPAA compliance coaching. 

Every member in your workers must know what info can’t be disclosed or shared with another particular person, or on another platform( resembling third-party web sites or social media channels). Prying in on affected person knowledge can also be thought of a violation below HIPAA. 

Moreover, licensed people in your workers who’ve entry to delicate affected person info want to know that it’s their legal responsibility to guard that knowledge. If not, these people put the whole group in danger for grave penalties and/ or different authorized obligations that can tarnish its fame—and even threaten its survival—in the long term.

Lastly, it’s equally vital to belief your workers. Most staff don’t need to disclose affected person info in a bootleg method. Disclosure happens unwantedly within the majority of circumstances. That is the place common coaching can hold worker HIPAA consciousness sharp and assist mitigate dangers.

3) Conduct Threat Assessments and Safety Audits on a Frequent Foundation

Threat assessments are an especially important part when wanting to maintain your billing/coding practices compliant with HIPAA guidelines and fortify your observe’s total cybersecurity framework

In reality, the Division of Well being and Human Companies (HHS) requires all healthcare entities – proper from small supplier teams, to giant well being programs, and enterprise associates of those coated entities – to constantly assess vulnerabilities and dangers to their knowledge and develop a backup plan for mitigating dangers if a breach had been to happen.

Due to this fact, finishing up frequent safety audits and danger assessments is extra a compulsion below HIPAA guidelines than a matter of particular person choice.

The vast majority of instances danger assessments solely concentrate on the place digital Protected Well being Data (ePHI) inside your facility is ‘purported to be’, not ‘the place it could possibly be’. It is very important take into account all of the locations ePHI could possibly be in, even when it isn’t readily seen on the floor. 

Native onerous drives, thumb drives, cell units, electronic mail, and fax, and copiers are sometimes neglected as locations that ePHI might deliberately or unintentionally reside in and be in danger. 

It takes quite a lot of effort to correctly conduct a HIPAA danger evaluation and plan to remediate the gaps recognized. Repeatedly following by on the remediation plans can be tough however is critical to verify all gaps are closed.

All in all, compliance is a multi-faceted side of dental care supply.

To ensure that it to be helpful, each small contributor must play its half effectively. Proper from the digital controls you use, to your workers, to safety programs with the group itself – it’s the proper stability of every little thing.

Evidently, retaining your dental care facility’s billing and/or coding HIPAA-compliant significantly relies on how effectively all these processes and programs work in sync with one another. 



Dr. Chuck Le is the founder of seven Day Dental and is a acknowledged chief within the discipline of dentistry. For a number of years, Dr. Le has devoted his private time and assets to working with organizations and causes that assist the much less lucky, in addition to youth improvement and well-being, each internationally and right here. His philanthropy has included his contribution to the catastrophe reduction efforts after the 2004 tsunami in Thailand and the restoration efforts after main conflagrations in Vietnam.

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