Whether you’re a radiologist, physical therapist, or dentist, you face the ongoing burden of protecting your patient’s sensitive data—from routine appointment scheduling to treatment analysis to insurance and billing. And though much of your email correspondence may likely be administrative or clerical in nature—clarifying patient records, fixing billing issues, or discussing individual claims—information still needs to be protected.
As a healthcare professional, your task of safeguarding information is growing increasingly complex as the environment adapts to the need for greater mobility support. Just take note of some of your most basic routine tasks, which now can conveniently take place over email. Each of these key areas of correspondence all include private information, easily at risk of confidentiality and needing to be protected by HIPAA rules:
General Doctor-Patient Correspondence
In today’s busy world, the most efficient and expedient form of doctor-patient communications is via email. The time saving and convenience factor of email communication—in an industry so laden in administrative work—is certainly a breadth of fresh air. The ability to ask simple questions, clarify medications, get test results, and schedule appointments over email is now more efficient than ever before. But this convenience of information and file-transfer does come with a risk. So that’s why protecting your patient correspondence is a top priority. The use of an email encryption system can help you protect your patient data, meet compliance standards, and prevent breach costs so that you can easily communicate with your patients to:
- Schedule appointments
- Get test results
- Receive prescription information
- Answer questions about treatment
- Inquire about general referrals
- Transfer documents and images with external network providers
Insurance and Billing
An important aspect of the healthcare professional is the coordination of insurance and billing. Filing insurance claims and submitting billing needs to be done in timely manner and is key to maintaining steady cash flow. In fact, the process of billing for services can make or break your practice. Detailed insurance coordination requires communication between you, your patients, and various insurance companies. And the data shared often involves social security numbers, birth dates, home addresses, credit information, insurance premium details, and more.
Whether communicating invoice amounts via a simple text email or providing a scanned insurance application containing credit specifics, the potential for exposure to your patients is of great concern. By securing your email communications, you can greatly limit patient worry and make private the gamut of information associated with insurance claims and billing matters. With email encryption, you can eliminate bottlenecks, improve compliance, and minimize overall business risk—all while ensuring the protection of your patient’s data.
Patient Intake—Medical History
Acquiring new patients can certainly be one of the most rewarding experiences of your practice. But with the initiation of a new patient comes additional time and expense. Today, the availability of online health and wellness information makes it possible for patients to take on more responsibility for their own healthcare—helping you as their provider be more productive when getting new patients ready for treatment. And as an additional benefit, patient self-sufficiency actually translates into less-cluttered waiting rooms, shorter waiting times, and more satisfied customers.
Though there are several different ways to obtain patient history, one of the most efficient means is to gather information online—through detailed questionnaires and/or forms—filled out then submitted electronically over email by the patient. By using an online system, patients can present their own complete illness and past medical histories before their initial visit. Furthermore this online ability of obtaining patient information can also help to more easily create electronic health records (EHR), which can then be used by other healthcare providers.
So it’s clear that gathering patient history over email is certainly efficient and saves time, yet the security risks involved from a confidentiality standpoint are still quite great. That’s why email encryption ensures that you—the only intended recipient of the information—can securely preview your patient’s most intimate, historical information. With a secure email system, you’ll be able to privately communicate a variety of data, including:
- Patient demographics
- Past medical history
- Vital signs
- Progress notes
- Problem medications
- Laboratory data and radiology reports
Read more about Achieving HIPAA Compliance with Enlocked.
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