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Protecting Vital Patient Health Information & Privacy Compliance

Keep the data safe and the regulations satisfied

A critical goal of any HIM program must be protecting vital patient health information. This data must be guarded against damage or loss due to human error, technological failure, or catastrophic event. Equally important, it must not be disclosed or transmitted to other than authorized parties — under pain of legal action, fines or other regulatory penalties, or loss of government incentives.

AMES® can help you put in place policies, procedures, equipment, and technologies for vital records protection to prevent such loss or damage. We can also advise on issues throughout the record life cycle wherein you must ensure compliance with evolving privacy regulations, such as those mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Joint Commission, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

ARRA and meaningful use

In recent months, every HIM manager in the U.S. has paid increasing attention to certain ARRA provisions. A key phrase from that legislation: “meaningful use.”

Briefly, your organization may qualify for government financial incentives if you can show meaningful use of certified health care information technology. (Or incur penalties if you can’t.) This usually involves using your system to reduce costs under timeframes approved by and methods acceptable to the government. Ultimate goal: implementation of a qualified EMR system by 2015.

Baseline program

AMES can supply the latest interpretations of new and existing regulations, and advise you on starting a baseline regulatory/legal protection program that should include:

  • Proper management of the record lifecycle process
  • Software alerts to highlight proper dates when records go from active to inactive (and, if applicable, to destruction)
  • Software transaction logs that may be audited to show procedures and policies are applied correctly and consistently
  • Automated document search during the discovery process of any legal action
  • Ability to override the normal patient record retention system, placing a “legal hold” on documents under discovery (to prevent suspicious or unlawful destruction of records)
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