The healthcare industry is held to a higher standard when it comes to client privacy and protection. Since sensitive information is kept on computers, in filing cabinets, and on other forms of media, medical professionals must take extra precaution to protect their clients-especially when it comes to medical record moving and storage.
Who Must Follow Privacy and Security Rules?
Federal privacy and security rules, such as HIPAA, apply to specific entities. These can include individuals, agencies, and organizations that meet the definition of entities required to comply with HIPAA regulations. These entities include:
• Healthcare providers: Physicians, clinics, dentists, nursing homes, pharmacies, psychiatrists
• Health insurance companies: Health insurance providers, corporate health plans, government health plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans Affairs benefits
Safe Medical Record Transportation Practices
When medical and sensitive records must be transported, there are specific procedures that must be followed by the healthcare entity itself as well as by the medical record moving and storage company relocating the records:
• Records cannot be left unattended or in an unlocked safe or room. Authorized personnel should be the only individuals able to access records and patient information.
• Boxes should be numbered, labeled, and stored properly.
• Records should be attended by authorized personnel at all times and never left unattended.
• Administrators should supervise the transportation process to ensure record movers follow all secure handling and proper transportation policies.
• Records should be checked and accounted for immediately after arriving at their destination.
Secure Medical Record Storage Practices
Medical professionals must take extra precaution when storing records and patient information. Whether stored on-site or at an off-site storage location, medical records should be:
• Covered so that no personal identification information is showing
• Stored away from open shelves or high-traffic areas
• Stored in an access-controlled location that requires a mechanical or electronic key
• Assigned to a manager to ensure the medical records are stored properly
• Only accessible by authorized personnel
Hiring a Professional Medical Record Moving and Storage Company
The consequences of failing to protect patient information are catastrophic for any sized healthcare entity. In addition to the legal ramifications, the cost to the healthcare entity’s reputation can be much more severe. When moving, healthcare professionals should hire reputable medical record movers who comply with all state and federal privacy and security regulations during moving and storage. They should look for record movers who:
• Provide a secure chain-of-custody medical record moving procedure to ensure all records are safe before, during, and after the move
• Use preventative measures at their storage facility including identity verifications and access-controlled storage
• Offer secure shredding services to dispose of outdated or unneeded records
• Are a hybrid of secure medical record moving and storage services
Cost Versus Value
Inexpensive medical record moving companies often offer lower pricing by sacrificing safety and security. These companies hire temporary workers without background checks or reference verifications. That means a healthcare entity’s patient information is at risk. When it is time to move, it’s imperative that healthcare entities verify that their record moving and storage company complies with all HIPAA regulations to prevent records from being lost, tampered with, or stolen, to avoid identity theft, and to protect against the high financial and public relations costs that will result from litigation.
Don’t entrust your medical record moving and storage to a company that doesn’t have the experience and expertise to handle all areas of record management, including secure moving, storage, scanning, and shredding.