How HIPAA Privacy Rules Affect Your Health Information – 6 Points

There are certain entities in the healthcare field, insurance companies and healthcare providers for example, that need to collect various information of the individual and even exchange it with other entities for treatment and insurance purposes. While this is required for the proper functioning of the industry it also poses a series of threats as sensitive information of an individual is involved. The Privacy Rules of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) have tried to address this concern by framing a set of guidelines to protect health information.

Some of the points that covered entities have to keep in mind regarding health information are listed below.

• Collection: The most important thing that any covered entity must keep in mind is that the data must be collected by legitimate means only without resorting to any unfair and secretive practices. The individual must be duly informed about why the data is being collected and the process must be continued only after receiving consent.

• Quality: The covered entities must also make sure that the data collected is relevant to their specific purposes. No attempt must be made to gather any extra data; only the information required for the smooth functioning of the treatment or for any related matter must be sought. Instead the entity must focus on ensuring that the information is complete and accurate to the best of their knowledge.

• Use: A very vital aspect of the HIPAA Privacy Rules is the use of the collected information. Covered entities that are in possession of the individual’s data must use it only for the purposes allowed by the law and share the information solely with entities that require it for the approved purposes. Remember that if you are one of the entities you must neither seek data nor disclose it to others if it falls outside the purview of the relevant rules.

• Clarity: All the covered entities are required to have a clear set of policies regarding the management of personal health information. Complete information about the practices followed for using the data must be readily available; in fact the entities must provide the patient with the Notice of Privacy Practices (NOPP) at the first opportunity to keep them well informed.

• Safeguards: Besides the collection of appropriate data the entities are also required to take sufficient measures to safeguard such information. The safeguards must provide adequate protection against data theft, unauthorized access and even destruction of the records.

• Patient Participation: To give the patient more control over their own information HIPAA Privacy Rules require an entity to seek due authorization from the patient for use of the data for purposes other than those specified by the law. In addition the patient can seek a copy of personal information and even make suggestions to modify or delete certain content.

All the parties involved must understand the HIPAA Privacy Rules for managing information, whether it is the covered entities seeking data or the patient who must know the consequences when authorizing use of personal information.

Health Kits For Urine Testing

Most health conditions are determined by urine tests only, therefore most of the home health test kits enable users to perform easy and reliable tests without too much trouble . Some results can be read right away at home while some others need to be sent to expert medical laboratories as complex health conditions require more thorough investigation. For a home test you’ll only need a small quantity of urine that could be easily collected with a sterile device. Many ailments are easily detected by relevant urine tests, with home collected samples that are afterwards sent via mail.

There are a few hygiene measures you need to follow when you actually collect the urine sample, for instance you always have to clean the area so that no bacteria may alter the quality of the sample. Most home health test kits include skin sterile materials and pads to use during the procedure. You may check for glucose, hepatitis, many forms of urinary tract infection and so on; for very simple checks the result of the test is conclusive right away, whereas if the virus detection is complex, a professional analysis of the sample is necessary, and you’ll have to send it to the closest laboratory.

For those who watch over diabetes and try to prevent the aggravation of the disease in between visits to the doctor, urine testing at home is of great help. Most such kit models only require the first morning urine to be collected and sent to the laboratory. The most advanced kit models are technologically superior from the point of view of data storage; up to two hundred and fifty test results may be kept in the memory of the device, so that the health evolution may be checked any time you need.

Urine test kits don’t require a special diet before sample collection, which makes them easy to use any time you may need one. Studies indicate that patients who constantly monitor their health condition with the help of home health test kits actually prolong their life with seven years on the average. Very often, the doctor is the one who could recommend a specific type of home health test kit that is the most appropriate for a health condition. Many patients choose to put down the urine test results for a pre-determined period of time, and then present them as a sort of evolution chart by which the doctor can get an idea of the progress they’ve made.

How to Increase Your Medical Billing Collections With These Six Important Steps

Medical billing collections use is growing, as many doctor’s offices, medical facilities and hospitals confront ever-increasing past due debts from slow paying patients and back-logged insurance claims. Along with over 40 million Americans without any health insurance, a slow economy due to recession, and growing unemployment, means shrinking positive cash flow for medical professionals. Given that prognosis, there are a number of things you can implement to increase your internal medical billing collections. By putting these six tactics into place, you can greatly improve your financial bottom line.

1. Be sure you have a clear payment procedure, placed visibly at the front of your office. New patients need to understand clearly what, if any, payment is expected upfront, in regards to co-pays, etc. This should be understood BEFORE rendering service.

2. It’s very important that you get accurate patient information during that first doctor visit. Get the patient’s full name, address, date of birth, home, work and cell phone numbers. Get their work information: address, phone number(s), position/title, manager/supervisor, etc. Clearly, the more information you can get here, the better. While some patients may balk at giving their social security number, its still a good idea, especially if the account has to be turned over later to a collection agency.

3. If the patient has health insurance, its important to verify at this point. While a doctor’s office can get quite hectic, this crucial step shouldn’t be overlooked. Verifying coverage will avoid headaches later on.

4. In the initial patient application, be sure to clearly detail the patients’ responsibility for payment. You might also consider including language that should the account have to be turned over to a collection agency for non-payment, the patient will be responsible for collection costs. In some states, the business can recoup their costs for hiring a collections agency, if it is stated in the patient-signed application upfront. (Check with your attorney about this, as state laws vary)

5. Allow patients to make payment arrangements for those going through financial difficulties. Because so many are either uninsured or under-insured, making reasonable payment arrangements via installments gives them more options, and greater peace of mind. It will also help generate cash flow to your practice.

6. Know when its time to relinquish those difficult problem accounts, and turn them over to a debt collection agency. As discussed earlier, many patients are facing greater financial burdens, because of higher unemployment, a slow economy and recession, making it increasingly difficult to pay for the high costs of health care.

Most people intend to do the right thing and honoring their debt obligations. But the reality is that some others are less responsible. By using the before-mentioned procedures, consistently and early on, you can better identify the patients experiencing temporary financial problems from the “problem” delinquent accounts. Payment arrangements, and continued communications can better address those problems. With that, the more problem, non-paying clients have to be identified earlier as well. These are the ones to be outsourced to professional collection agencies who are better equipped to handle these types of accounts.

Failing to do so means wasting valuable time, labor and money dealing with difficult accounts. You can’t afford to waste time here, because the longer an account goes unpaid, the lesser the likelihood of getting paid at all. By placing these accounts earlier, you greatly increase your opportunity for getting a great deal, or at least some of your money. As a general rule, after 90 days of non-payment, medical billing collections should be turned over to a collection agency. These simple, but very important tips are very effective in shrinking your medical billing delinquencies. Put into consistent practice, you can greatly improve your medical billing collections.