Did you know that identity theft is America’s fastest growing crime? 1 It’s something that every business has to take seriously and take precautions to prevent. The health care industry is no different. We spoke with Carrington College Medical Administrative Assistant program 2 students Janie and Albert to tell us how medical administrative assistants make sure your information is secure.
When you go to the doctor, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not your personal information is safe. When you completed your new patient paperwork, you basically handed over your phone number, address, date of birth and even your social security number right? So what protections are there to make sure your info is safe?
What is HIPAA?
One protection you may have heard of is HIPAA. Medical Administrative Assistant (MAA) student Janie tells us what HIPAA stands for and what it means.
“HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It’s so that we can secure patient information, so [patient] information doesn’t get [disclosed without patient authorization or consent]. We want to make sure that the patients’ information is secure and that we treat it like our own information,” explained Janie.
HIPAA is legislation that establishes data privacy and security provisions for your medical info. It was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. There are a lot of parts to the law – they call them Titles – but HIPAA Title II sets national standards for how electronic healthcare transactions are processed. It also requires healthcare organizations, like doctors’ offices and insurance companies, implement secure electronic access to health data. They have to comply with strict privacy regulations because violations can be costly.
How Does a Medical Administrative Assistant Get Involved?
A Medical Administrative Assistant is usually the first person a patient will speak to when they arrive at a doctor’s office…you’ll be the welcoming face of the practice! You’re also the person they first trust with their personal and medical information when they complete the new patient application forms.
MAA student Albert tell us what Medical Administrative Assistants do to make sure your information is secure.
“When you go to the doctor’s office and they have you fill out the paperwork of who we can share your information with, that’s an example of how we keep your information private. We only give out information to those individuals,” said Albert.
Since pretty much everything is digital, hacking can be a big worry for patients when we hear so many different stories in the news. What do practices do to make sure that information stays secure in the office?
“We [medical professionals] store that information in our systems, our databases, everything is backed up. We make sure that our hardware is protected, we [learn about] the software protection 3.”
As a patient it’s important to know you’re responsible for your own data security too. Albert encourages you to ask questions.
“Always feel free to ask how your information is being handled when you’re at the doctor’s office. You can always give feedback of how to do it better.”
Calling can start the process, but patients need to complete an authorization form when making changes regarding who may receive information about patient care.
1 – https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/investigations/MailFraud/fraudschemes/mailtheft/IdentityTheft.aspx
2 – Important information about the educational debt, earnings and completion rate of students who attended this program can be found at http://carrington.edu/degrees/medical-administrative-assistant/.
3 – Varies by location. Contact your practice for specific details.