Why Is Cyber Security Compliance Important to Medical Coders?
As we move further into a digital era in healthcare, the entire medical industry seems to be relying more and more on electronic systems to aid them in their daily operations. It goes without saying that these advancements offer plenty of benefits for practices of all sizes, but they still come with an inherent risk we sometimes might like to ignore – particularly when it comes to cyber security in medical billing.
As the owner of a small medical practice, it’s your responsibility to understand why cybersecurity risks and general compliance is so important, hence the theme of this article.
Throughout this blog, we’ll be taking a look at why risk management strategies are vital for protecting your patients’ personal information in terms of your reputation and general data protection regulation. Let’s get started!
Protecting Patient Privacy & Confidentiality
Naturally, the stakes are pretty high when it comes to protecting patient information and their privacy as a whole. Your medical coders, for instance, handle sensitive information like this on a daily basis – things such as diagnoses, treatments, and various other personal details. All of these need to be kept confidential not just because of ethical considerations but as mandated by law, too.
Failure to comply with some of these cybersecurity measures can actually expose the aforementioned data to hackers, which, without a doubt, can lead to fairly devastating consequences for both your patients and practice.
Moreover, cyber attacks targeting healthcare organizations are generally on the rise as hackers are becoming even more sophisticated and relentless in their attacks. Ransomware attacks, phishing attempts, and insider threats, just to name a few, are among the major risks looming over medical practices across California and the rest of the country.
Ensuring Continuity In Your Operations
Generally speaking, any interruption in your daily operations has severe consequences. Imagine, for example, a scenario where data breaches or a ransomware attack render your patient records inaccessible. Or, say, a cyber breach causes system failures that stop you from delivering vital healthcare services?
Naturally, it’s absolutely imperative to establish a few different security controls within your practice to properly safeguard against this sort of thing. For instance, part of your cybersecurity compliance program can be regularly backing up critical data and medical coding records so you’ll always have access to up-to-date information in the event of a cyber attack.
Not only does this let you resume operations quickly, but it also helps, in general, with preventing the loss of patient data.
Having said that, compliance with cybersecurity measures goes beyond simply implementing a few protocols; it requires you to continuously monitor them, too, along with regular testing to ensure they’re still effective.
Maintaining Compliance With Regulatory Requirements
As touched on, aside from basic ethical considerations, there are relatively strict legal frameworks in place in order to protect patient confidentiality and ensure their medical information is handled safely – namely, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Though the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) also plays a role here, HIPPA in medical billing sets the standard for safeguarding protected health information (PHI), and they impose a few obligations on medical practices, too.
In essence, these regulations are designed to protect your patient’s data from unauthorized access, disclosure, and general alteration. And, as mentioned, compliance with these requirements isn’t simply optional but a legal obligation for practice owners and their medical coders.
Let’s get specific and take a look at a couple of these cybersecurity requirements, bearing in mind this isn’t an exhaustive list:
Security Incident Response
Establishing procedures so you can promptly identify, report, and respond quickly to any security incidents to reduce their impact.
Conducting regular assessments of your information systems so you can identify any vulnerabilities, evaluate risks, and also implement safeguards to ultimately protect against potential threats.
Failure to comply with some of these requirements goes beyond just the financial implications, though. Aside from the costly legal battles that can significantly impact your practice’s long-term viability, there’s also a major knock to your reputation and patient trust.
Maintaining Patient Trust
Speaking of reputation, trust is undoubtedly the bedrock of the healthcare industry, given that patients entrust their most sensitive information to your practices and expect it to be handled with utmost care.
By demonstrating a general commitment to cybersecurity compliance, you’re not only safeguarding patient data but also building trust. Naturally, this is going to have an indirect impact on your reputation, which can be great for boosting patient loyalty and differentiating yourself in an otherwise competitive landscape.
So, to ensure that your practice remains cybersecurity compliant at all times, not just for your patients’ sake but to follow the law as well, consider partnering with PMN, the experts in regulatory compliance!
How Can Medical Coders Stay Informed With The Latest Cyber Security Compliance Standards?
Generally speaking, there are a few different ways you can do this, but subscribing to various industry publications and attending training sessions can be massively helpful if you aren’t partnered with a professional medical billing organization that handles this for you.
What Is Cyber Security Compliance?
In essence, cyber security compliance is an industry-wide requirement that medical practices adopt, which includes various different measures that protect their data and information systems from hackers and other software vulnerabilities. For example, this includes firewalls and installing anti-virus software.