As a medical transcriptionist, it’s your responsibility to protect the privacy of every patient record you come into contact with. That’s why HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was created in 1996.
The act is a grouping of regulations that strive to combat abuse and fraud in health insurance and health care delivery. The law also has an administrative section with specific requirements for the electronic transmission of health information. Since medical transcriptionists receive, send and store confidential patient data, it’s essential they recognize and adhere to HIPAA rules on privacy, security and confidentiality at all times. Benefits of following HIPAA regulations include guaranteed security of patient records, data efficiency plus increased customer and industry confidence.
So, how do you maintain HIPAA compliance? If you work in-house for a medical facility, protocol for following HIPAA requirements will probably be set up for you. However, if you work from home, you’ll need to set up your set of precautions. For example, work in an area of your home that’s private – no one should be able to hear the dictation you’re transcribing. Also, if you use a family computer to complete your work, make sure all your transcription files are protected by using a screen saver password. Ideally, you should have a computer dedicated solely to your transcription work.
Now here’s an important question to consider- is your home computer properly set up to help you stay HIPAA compliant? To protect patient confidentiality and ensure your job security, equip your computer with at least the following:
- Secure, password protected email and FTP sites
- Firewall protection
- Regular Windows updates involving computer security
- File encryption software
There are other ways to ensure file protection, so visit your local computer software store to better understand your options.
In addition to a secure computer, equip your work area with explanatory HIPAA reference publications. Online medical transcription training programs, like the comprehensive program at Allied Medical School, may include helpful HIPAA guides that you can keep. If you don’t have one, check out the American Health Information Management Association’s (AHIMA) online book store for a selection of great resources.
Follow a security protocol at home, in a medical facility and with your computer – you’ll work more effectively, stay HIPAA compliant and keep your medical transcription career on track.