Brisbane Business Blog

Run your Business with Faith & Knowledge

Are Your Patient Records Really Safe From a Security Breach?

 

Security Breach

Security Breach

Recent media coverage has alerted the nation to the dangers associated with security breaches. Unfortunately, some of the most vulnerable collectors of personal information have been slow to act to protect sensitive materials. Hospitals and doctor’s offices house thousands of records of personal information with little security. This lack of a deterrent leaves patients’ intimate lives exposed to whoever has an interest and opportunity.

 

medical records at risk

medical records at risk

Are medical records at risk?

Recent security breaches have hit hospitals and medical centers in New England, the South, and the Midwest. Further breaches are possible, even likely due to the condition of records security. Surprisingly, the most vulnerable records are old-fashioned paper documents. That isn’t to say that digital records cannot be accessed, but simply opening a file drawer and reading the contents of a folder is within arm’s length of everyone working on staff.

 

access to patient records

access to patient records

Who should and should not have access to patient records?

The obvious personnel of doctors and nurses should be able to view the complete file of a patient, but who else should have access? It comes down to what information is needed by whom. Billing clerks need to know what services have been provided in order to bill insurance correctly. This information should not include anything regarding a patient’s diagnosis, or health history.

An admissions clerk only needs basic facts to enter a patient into the computer system, and should not have access to sensitive information. The same can be said for workers who transport patients. Typically, most information should be given only on a need-to-know basis to ensure the strictest confidence of the patient is upheld.

Unfortunately, paper records are easily accessed by almost any member of a medical staff. Some may be merely curious or nosy, while others feel they have a right to the information. Even if a staff member knows a patient, is the patient in question, or is the relative of the patient, looking at a file is wrong. In fact, accessing medical records, and relating the information to others for financial gain is a crime. Violators can be fined, lose their license to practice (if applicable), or face, or serve time in jail.

 

What is a security breach

What is a security breach

What qualifies as a security breach?

Breaching security of confidential medical information of patients has often been intentional, but sometime it’s unclear. So, what is a violation of privacy? Obtaining or sharing private information about patients seems cut and dried, but there are many gray areas. A patient’s information can be breached in the following ways:

– Deliberately accessing files to gain information about a patient when it is not related to a medical case
– Medical staff discussing a patient’s personal information with friends or family
– Staff texting information about patients to anyone
– The release of information to a caller or visitor who has not been properly identified
– Allowing unauthorized visitors access to files or the area where files are stored
– Posting personal information about patients on social media or blogs
– Looking up the personal information of co-workers not related to the job
– Inadvertently sending patient information to the wrong e-mail address, fax number, or street address
– Photographing patients with a cell phone

Much of the above breaches of privacy can be attributed to unprofessional behavior. Even if the intent is not harmful, innocent, or misunderstood, any access to a patient’s personal information should be viewed as sacred. In fact, medical personnel take an oath to protect patients’ well-beings. This includes their privacy and health histories.

 

Keep Records Safe

Keep Records Safe

Tips to Keep Records Safe

Medical staff must keep in mind that a breach in security can mean loss of patients, fines, and a poor reputation. To avoid these costly mistakes, many actions can be taken. Mostly by using common sense, a breach can be largely avoided.

– Log off a computer when not in use, especially if the desk is not manned
– Properly dispose of patient paperwork and files in line with the medical facility’s policies and procedures
– Never discuss patients in public areas. Seek out a private area, close a door, and speak softly
– Be sure a patient has given written permission to discuss the patient’s information in front of visitors
– Do not discuss personal information with the patient in front of non-staff
– Never leave a patient’s files or paperwork sitting on a desk, table, or examination room unattended
– Do not give others passwords or login information that accesses patient files
– Never bring paperwork or files containing patient information home
– Double check fax numbers, and addresses before sending information to other medical offices
– Do not look up patient information unless it is necessary
– Never post patient information on social media, blogs, or chat rooms, even if the patient is a family member or friend
– Do not allow visitors access to areas where records or files on patients are kept

————————————————————————–

This content was provided by Neches FCU, an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer Credit Union.

Neches FCU is one of the top Texas credit unions and has a courteous and attentive team of professionals ready to service it’s wide base of members. When the doors open at any of the nine service outlets, our core objective of “Ultimate Member Satisfaction” becomes the sole focus for every representative. They are well-known for a personal, dynamic and upbeat work environment, providing a memorable service experience, and where clients are known personally. Neches FCU has approximately $438 Million in assets with over 45,000 members. Neches FCU is acknowledged by members and the business community as one of the top credit unions in Texas and an actively involved partner, helping our Family, Friends and Community!

 

Boost Your Bottom Line by Doing a SWOT for Your Practice

 

Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning

 

Preemptive and calculated planning requires practical and impartial assessment. The SWOT analysis should be done biannually, so you can learn and determine the main issues inside and out. Then rejuvenate your approach and strategies in your market planning. Be sure you have a good perception of where your goal is headed, it is necessary and essential for any of your forthcoming goals.

Thoroughly and accurately list the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of your circumstances, and repeat each and every year. This will help you see it all in one place, to make it easier to implement any changes that may be needed. You will be able to change anything that may be a stumbling block, for you to reach your initial goals.

 

SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis

 

SWOT analysis is beneficial for hospitals, medical groups, and individuals in private practices. It will assist your attention on advertising and publicizing, in many areas that harbor the strongest benefits.  Sketch the quadrants and create a four part grid, this will provide you with an overview that helps visualize the relationship. Recognize and list all the key essentials and basics in each quadrant.

 

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths and Weaknesses

 

Internal: Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths and Weaknesses are things that can be controlled. Your strengths are useful and beneficial while your weaknesses could be damaging or even risky.

Strengths:

List all of your abilities, skills and assets that can be the foundation of a diverse economic advantage. Ask yourself what are the most important strengths? Furthermore, which ones will have the most effect and profit on each strength? Strengths include but are not limited to, a new or innovative service, capabilities or cost advantages, cultural connections, extraordinary reputation, other aspects that add value, special expertise and experience, superior location or geographic advantage.

Weaknesses:

What is needed to be amended or corrected, also should we be avoiding something? Decide what you might need to do, to get rid of or conquer this weakness. Weaknesses from time to time can be the lack of certain strengths, also now and again, a weakness may be the opposite side of ones strengths. Weaknesses might include but are not limited to, absence of marketing plan, damaged reputation, gaps in capabilities or service areas, lagging in technology, management or staff problems, own known vulnerability, poor location or geographic barriers, undifferentiated service lines.

 

Opportunities and Threats

Opportunities and Threats

 

External: Opportunities and Threats

Opportunities and Threats both are initiated externally, and are things that are unable to be controlled. Opportunities can be very beneficial and useful, while threats could be very damaging and destructive.

Opportunities:

Opportunities can be a great new addendum or substantial inclination, as well as other external prospects. How can we best achieve, utilize, or even advance further from each? Examples might include but are not limited to, a market vacated by a competitor, availability of new technology, changes in population profile or need, Competitor vulnerabilities, lack of dominant competition, new market segment that offer improve profit, new vertical, horizontal, or niche markets.

 

Threats

Threats

 

Threats:

Threats can be something that is preventing you from achieving or accomplishing your goals. No practice is untouchable to threats, but a lot of us miss or ignore them. We sometimes even say they are no big deal, but usually at an enormous cost. What can you do to alleviate each individual threat, maybe it’s a hidden opportunity, who knows. Threats include but are not limited to, a competitor has an innovative product or service, a new competitor in your home market, adverse changes in reimbursement or regulations, changing insurance plans or contracts for major area employers, competitors have superior access to channels of distribution, economic shifts, loss of key staff or associates, new or increased competition, seasonality, shifts in market demand or referral sources.

The best way to boost your bottom line is by doing a SWOT for your practice. There are many clear cut ways for you to have a prosperous SWOT assessment. You always want to be straightforward and specific, don’t give an indistinguishable or unclear description or an unclear definition. Be very objective, ask for someone else’s opinion and input, then compare the two.

 

Clear Goals

Clear Goals

 

When doing a SWOT assessment, be practical or realistic in your viewpoint, particularly when you are assessing the strength and weaknesses. Keep things short and simple, stay away from unnecessary complication and don’t over-analysis. Update your marketing plan and goals twice a year, if there are any matters that need revising, take charge and make the necessary changes.

By using SWOP you will be able to manage your practices more efficiently and effectively. We would like to put this respected assessment tool to good use, within your goal planning. We would be happy to also provide an impartial sounding board as well.

Many thanks for skimming our post. Your thoughts are welcome. If you need cms 1500 02/12 to file insurance claims, head over to Justcms1500forms.com. They don’t resell these cms 1500 version 02/12 forms, like competitors. They actually print them at their facility. If you staff prefers software filing for claims, they provide software for this too. Take care, and look out for my next post.

If you have ideas on this topic to share, please visit our Delicious page here and leave your comments or suggest some useful links to explore on this topic.

Business Entertainment Deductions Are Something to Smile About

 

social gatherings

social gatherings

Typically, you are not able to deduct expenses that are associated with social gatherings. If you did put together a party or entertain family and friends this past holiday season you might be happy to know there are some deductions you might still be able to take. There are some strict rules about what deductions you may take but they might be worth looking into.

Where To Start

Where To Start

Where To Start

To begin with, you are only going to be able to deduct any expenses that are “associated with” or “directly related to” the business that you run. Additionally, the percentage of deduction that you may take is typically limited to 50 percent of the total cost. There are some exceptions to this that will be discussed more later.

Entertainment

Entertainment

Entertainment Rules

While it is difficult to get deductions for expenses related to entertainment, you might be able to get deductions that are “associated with” entertainment expenses. To be able to get this type of deduction for entertainment and meals, you must be able to prove the following three things:

– The main reason for the combined entertainment and business gathering was to conduct business at the gathering.
– You legitimately engaged in business during the event.
– You were under the impression that you were going to be getting some income or your business was going to benefit in some other way.

 

Business Setting

Business Setting

Business Setting

Another great way to ensure that you can make business entertainment deductions is by having your gathering in a place that is clearly a business setting. This would ensure that the expenses are directly related to your business. As an example, if your business uses a hospitality suite at a big hotel or convention center to display goods or offer services, then it would clearly show that you are in a business setting. On the other hand, if you claim that you conducted business while out on a golf course or something similar, this is clearly not a conventional business setting and you will not be able to deduct business expenses.

business purpose

business purpose

Entertainment

The only way to get an entertainment deduction for a social gathering is if you can show that the entertainment is directly associated with your business. It needs to relate to the active conduct regarding your business and should occur right before or directly after the business portion of the event. You need to prove that the entertainment had a clear business purpose in which you incurred the expense for it.

substantial business discussion

substantial business discussion

Substantial Business Discussions

A substantial business discussion is one that directly relates to the topic of the business. While there is not a definitive guideline for what is considered “substantial”, it does need to be more than casual in nature. If you hold a business discussion with a client and then entertain the client before or afterwords, you will be able to deduct 50 percent of the cost of the entertainment. This can also include meals even if no business was discussed during.

Special Rules

Special Rules

Additional Special Rules

There are other special rules that can come into play when trying to deduct some business entertainment expenses. For example, you are not able to deduct club dues even if you happen to entertain your business clients before or after the “substantial business discussion”. However, other expenses might still be deductible.

Tickets to a musical performance

Tickets to a musical performance

Separate Events

If you were to give your clients some tickets to a musical performance or sporting event, you might be able to get a 50 percent deduction on those tickets if you attend with them. This is because the tickets can be considered “associated” with the entertainment within the general guidelines and rules. If you do not attend the event or musical performance with your clients, you might be able to deduct the cost of the tickets as a business gift expense instead. There is a limit of $25 per client in this case.

Holiday Parties

Holiday Parties

Holiday Parties

If you throw a holiday party and invited a bunch of clients and guests together, you will be able to deduct some costs associated with the attendance of the clients but not any associated with the social guests attending. However, if throw a party that is not restricted to only certain employees, then you will be able to write off and deduct the whole cost of the party instead of just the typical 50 percent.

I hope this article was informative during the tax season.  Hopefully, this article got you thinking about streamlining your practice. With all this in mind, if you’re not already using electronic tax filing, you may want to consider it. Typically, if efile 1099 and W-2 forms for clients, you’ll see results faster than using paper documents.

If you’re doing tax preparation, this tax season should have a focus on time efficiency. Like most preparers, your clients probably have employees and sub-contractors working for them.

If you’re burning through time producing and delivering paper forms, here’s a valuable tip. I use eFile4Biz.com to file 1099 online, and focus my time on getting clients. They’re an industry pioneer, and integrate with the well-known accounting software names as well. The 1 minute video below will reveal if they’re suitable for you.

Stop by our other WordPress page, and post your comments or resource links to debate this matter further.