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How Privacy Laws and HIPAA Impact Medical Billing and Coding Specialists Working From Home

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Being a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist is more than just reading charts and handling insurance claims. Patient privacy is a core concern for every medical office employee. With more people working from home during the pandemic, how can medical billing and coding specialists protect patient privacy? In today’s blog, Bryan University explains. 

Related Post: Technical Skills Needed for Medical Billing & Coding Careers

The Home Office 

Because you are handling files that hold sensitive information in regard to patient health, it’s important your home office or work space is as private as possible. 

Here are some tips: 

  • Have your files and work area as separated from the rest of the house as much as possible.
  • Keep computer screens out of view from others. 
  • Keep any hard copy files covered, making sure anyone in the home cannot read names or personal information.
  • When away from the computer, put your screen to sleep. 
  • When talking on the phone, keep the door closed so the conversation cannot be overheard.
  • If you keep files in a briefcase or tote, keep it out of sight and stored away from general traffic. 
  • Make sure your internet connection is secure and not visible to others. If you’re not sure if it is, contact your provider. 
  • Do not forward files to your personal email address. 
  • Make sure your computer screen and phone screen are password-protected.

HIPAA 

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) was designed to reduce the visibility of private patient information to anyone other than the medical office staff in charge of their case and people designated as close family authorized by the patient to view or hear someone’s medical information.. This was achieved by implementing a system where codes replaced words. 

Title II of HIPAA requires all providers and billers covered by HIPAA to submit claims electronically using the approved ASC X12 005010 format. This is also known as the HIPAA 5010. HIPAA only specifies the way the file has to be transmitted, not the actual layout of the form. 

When submitting claims electronically, make sure the computer screen is turned away from others in the home. 

When billing, medical billing and coding specialists use claims to request reimbursement on behalf of the providers. These claims include the name of the provider as well as information about the patient such as name, date of birth and Social Security number. The patient’s health insurance information as well as codes for the procedure and diagnosis will be part of this request. All of this is highly sensitive information and if breached, could open up you and your company for lawsuit. 

Just as you would when submitting a claim, make sure any paperwork is covered and your computer screen is turned away from anyone else in the home. Keep your screen on sleep when away from the computer. 

Privacy Laws

If you’re a covered health care provider, the Privacy Rule permits you to give your patients a choice in how they want their health information shared with others for certain purposes. These can include treatment, payment and health care operations.

Your office may decide to offer your patients a choice in how they want their information to be exchanged – electronically to them directly or through a Health Information Exchange Organization. 

A secure internet connection is necessary at this stage, and any stage where private details regarding someone’s health are being shared. 

As a medical billing and coding specialist, your job is extremely important. It’s your responsibility to make sure medical charts and records are coded properly. Your employer and the patients are counting on you to make sure insurance billing and reimbursement are handled correctly. And through all of this, it’s vital that you secure patient privacy at every point of the process. You play a key role in the operational success of the medical office and the patient’s health care. 

Related Post: Tools Every Medical Billing & Coding Specialist Must Have 

Medical Billing and Coding at Bryan University

Bryan University’s medical billing and coding program prepares you for a vibrant career, giving you the practical knowledge you need for success. We’ll prepare you for the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam from the American Academy of Professional Coders. Call Bryan University toll-free at 1-855-862-0755 or enroll now to find out more information!

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