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PROTECTIVE PATTY – A HIPAA Cautionary Tale

hipaa laws updatePatty has been the office manager at Dr. White’s office for the past 20 years.  She runs a taught ship and everyone in the office knows that “what-she-says—Goes!”  Patty is reliable, accurate and committed to the success of the practice. She watches Dr. White’s bottom-line and is mindful to keep accounts receivable at a bare minimum for him.

One Tuesday morning, Patty got a call from a disgruntled patient demanding her x-rays be sent to either “her” or a dentist of her choice for a second opinion.  Patty remembered this patient very well.  She was an “All-and-More” type patient.  The kind of person that demanded perfection and also demanded many discounts.   After a full-upper, crown and bridge, reconstructive case, (2) crown-re-do s and a 35% discount, this patient still owed Dr. White a $6000 balance.

Patty could only listen to the demeaning demands of this troublesome patient for so long.  Then she decided to take control.  This was the second time the patient called with her demand – plus she sent a threatening email trying to get access to her x-rays last month.  Patty was going to put her foot down.

“There is only one thing left to say”, Patty boldly interrupted, “You currently have a balance of $6000.  When that is paid in full, I will be happy to get a copy of your radiographs delivered promptly to Dr. Black’s office.  Thank you for calling.” Then quietly hung up the phone.

It’s true that Patty took great pride in protecting Dr. White’s financial interests.  She was determined to collect on this unpaid balance due.  But there was one major flaw:  Patty was she was not up-to-snuff on the current HIPAA laws.  Patty did not realize that 2 years ago the HIPAA laws updated. Under these new HIPAA Omnibus Rules, Patients are entitled to a copy of their records within 30 days of their request in writing.  The patient in question had emailed Dr. White 38 days prior, requesting that a copy of her radiographs and records be send over to Dr. Black.

This patient was ‘hip” to the new HIPAA laws.  She contacted the Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Health & Human Services.

This patient reported Dr. White and Patty for withholding her radiographs-and-records.  She sent a copy of her original emailed request to Dr. White—now 38 days old– attached to the HIPAA complaint that she filed online.  This entire process took her less than 5 minutes.

Then– she also posted– a nasty review about Dr. White on YELP and encouraged other patients to report Dr. White for any similar HIPAA infractions.  She listed the direct link to the governments HIPAA Complaint Intake Form.  She knew her HIPAA Rights and obviously Patty did not.

Early one Monday morning, Patty answered the phone with her usual pleasant “Hello, Dr. White’s office Patty Speaking, how may I brighten your Smile”, only to be greeted by a Federal HIPAA Auditor.  Two days later the same HIPAA Auditor was in Dr. White’s office digging through files, asking tons of questions about Dr. White’s business protocols and stayed a total of 6 hours!

Before leaving – he made plans to return in (2) weeks, left a long checklist of HIPAA Requirements that needed to be updated by his return, and bid Protective Patty a fond farewell….for now.   Patty’s head was spinning.  How in the world could she pull this all together?  She did not even know what half of the list meant!

Patty slunk back in her chair and wished she could disappear.  The normally perky, prim and proper power -house of an office manager, was left dumbfounded and felt defeated. Dr. White knew that Patty meant well by protecting him, but he also knew it had been a decade since they updated any of their HIPAA protocols.  Who knew there was such a massive change?  No one in his study group seemed to know either.

Dr. White sat down and calmly exclaimed, “Patty, it’s time we “got hip to this new HIPAA stuff! I know you feel awful and responsible for the craziness that went down with regards to our present predicament.  I’ve already called Bill our IT Tech to help us bury that bad review from YELP.

And Dr. Right from the Dental Study Club told me about a HIPAA made EASY Package that will provide a comprehensive solution to all this HIPAA mess.  Dr. Right explained that this HIPAA made EASY– COMPLETE PKG includes:

An Employee HIPAA Omnibus Rule Training Video

A new updated HIPAA Manual PLUS all the required forms— ready-to-use and specifically designed for the dental office setting.

Best part Patty, is one of their Dental HIPAA Experts will spent 30-60 minutes on the phone with you to help you implement all of this stuff!  The great part about this is, you will have your own personal HIPAA Expert.”  Patty lifted her head sheepishly, humbly and was grateful.

“I’m so sorry Dr. White, I didn’t mean to”—- Dr. White interrupted respectfully, “Patty, you are a great blessing and asset to me and this practice.  It’s difficult to manage so many things and from what I hear these new HIPAA Omnibus Rules are cumbersome and intricate.  It’s Best we get onboard with a company who will help us establish a comprehensive solution and be there for us as a resource.  We don’t ever want to go through this again.”

MORAL OF THIS STORY:  GET HIPAA PREPARED!

HIPAA Made Easy is renowned throughout the dental industry for providing comprehensive compliance solutions.  Our HIPAA COMPLETE PACKAGE not only provides the necessary Employee Training, Required Paperwork & Guidance to set up all Updated HIPAA Protocols, we hold your hand to ensure you carry this continuity over to the technological side of HIPAA.  Making sure you understand your obligations to safeguard your patient Protected Health Information (their PHI) with regards to Daily Data Back-Up, Email, Software, Phone / Text and computer requirements.

Call us today on 941-587-2864 to speak to a HIPAA Expert.

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