Are You Sending the Correct Patient Info or Just All of It?
Patient record requests are a never-ending part of the medical industry. Whether you are requesting information from another provider, or you need to deliver patient information, it can be an administrative burden to maintain compliance throughout this process.
HIPAA Compliance and Record Management
It is a common occurrence: a patient or third-party needs a patient medical data, and they need it delivered as quickly as possible. While it should be simple to send the information to the requester, HIPAA regulations make it a complicated process – and for a good reason.
In many situations, these records requests are regularly occurring throughout the week. The request for health information can be for a variety of reasons:
- A patient needing insight into the medical records about their health
- Another healthcare provider who needs to see the patient’s history
- An attorney using medical information in litigation
These are just a few examples of why records might be requested. It is essential to understand why the records were requested and what information needs to be sent.
Partial Info vs. Sending the Whole File
When records are requested, the first step is to verify the requester and ensure that the information request is valid. HIPAA laws require security and care to protect PHI from falling into the wrong hands. Once you’ve verified the request’s authenticity, you need to have the proper process in place to send the patient information.
A simple solution is to provide all patient medical data. In the past, it was easy to fax or photocopy the requested information. Now, the process is much more sophisticated because you need to determine how much information should be shared. Most of the time, it’s unnecessary to send the entire file – instead, specific patient information can be provided to fulfill the record request without sending useless patient data (i.e. wasting valuable time).
Why You Don’t Need to Send All Patient Information
Why does it matter if you send a portion of the record instead of the whole file? Even though it might seem like a small detail, this process can impact your healthcare practice. Various medical organizations only need to send specific information from the patient’s records to the requester. Here’s why:
- Larger Files: The size of a full record file can be burdensome to deliver, especially when the records have large images and digital scans. Sending extensive data can be a challenge from a technical standpoint, causing lagging delivery and extending delivery times for both the sender and receiver.
- Higher Costs: The more information you send, the higher the costs are going to be. Even though transferring one full record might seem small, these expenses add up over time (think paper and postage). You can decrease the amount of information sent for each request to minimize costs, helping to add to the bottom line in the future.
- Processing Times: Another significant drawback to sending the entire file is that the processing times are longer. Most of these requests are time-sensitive, so it is important to provide fast services whenever possible. Since larger files take longer to review, approve, and send, you can speed up the process by providing only the most relevant information pertaining to the request.
- HIPAA Requirements: HIPPA has a “minimum necessary requirement,” which means practices should only release pertinent information to the requester. Maintain compliance in your medical office by providing the necessary patient information – and nothing more.
Providing only relevant, necessary patient information to requesters will only benefit your organization and eventually offer better service for your patients. If you are looking for support in optimizing your release of information process, we are here to help.