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EMR Security / HIPAA alerts, when do I know if its Junk Mail?

August 8, 2013

Question:

Jennifer,

I am receiving a lot of emails, faxes and mailings telling me I need audits and reviews and policy updates and that my documents are out of date and not secure.  How do I know what is junk mail and what is necessary?

Please advise.  
Dr. L

Answer:

There are a lot of changes right now in healthcare, as we all know, and many professionals (and not so professionals) are trying to capitalize (exploit) the needed changes.  My recommendation is to make sure you are educated about what your practice actually needs, and then make an informed decision about what products and services you want to incorporate.  You will need to update certain HIPAA forms right now, before September, and educate your staff, but the only form you need to change is  your Notice of Privacy Practices.  You will also have to modify your approach to prescribing if you are issuing controlled substances so  you conform with the requirement to check the prescription drug registry (applicable to NY practitioners only).  In addition, your practice may not have other required forms, but that doesn't mean you should panic or spend money without knowing what you are getting.

Likewise, companies offering protective plans or audit services should not be taken at face value.  Find out what exactly they are looking into at your practice, what is the benefit, and where will you go after getting their results.  Importantly, you want to make sure any time you are having an audit done, whether on records or security or other area, the results are going to be confidential.  The best way to ensure that is the case is to have your attorney coordinate any such review in connection with your legal services so as to maintain attorney/client privilege, if available.  

Another tip, if you are going to spend money on compliance (as insurance) be sure you know exactly what your coverage is.  For instance, a prepaid legal plan is only as good as the advice and protection you will receive from the firm you are buying it from.  Know what you are spending on before you send in a check.  

Have a question on a particular mailing you have received and not sure if its junk mail, send it over and I will take a look.   


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