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Halt Front Desk HIPAA Check-in Violations

Each time a patient checks-in with your front desk, your risk of a HIPAA violation goes through the roof. Especially considering that patient check-in occurs over and over again, every day you’re open to see patients.

You might think that your front desk staff are to blame for this increased HIPAA risk. However, the real culprit is a lack of training, and your front desk staff being left to their own devices when solving potentially catastrophic HIPAA issues.

It makes sense that check-in is where HIPAA risk is so high. At check-in, your front desk staff must gather numerous pieces of personal patient information and communicate with the patient regarding their insurance verification, office visit, answer questions, coordinate tests, etc. And this all happens with additional patients sitting in your waiting room listening in.

It’s a huge mistake to assume your team knows how to handle these situations.

The ONLY way for you to be sure your front desk staff will handle these communications in a HIPAA-compliant manner is for you to provide clear training on each type of patient interaction.

A great way to train your staff is through role playing. Have your front desk team come up with potential HIPAA-breach scenarios based on their experiences at your practice. Then have them role play the scenarios along with their potential solutions. Once complete, use the role-playing sessions to discuss the things they did well, and what they should change to ensure future compliance.

And don’t make the mistake of only training your new staff on these check-in scenarios. Make sure you train with your entire front desk team several times a year so everyone remains fresh and on-point.

Even if you provide regular instruction to your team and they handle each situation accurately, you could still be in trouble if you ever get audited. Remember, as far as the auditor is concerned, if you didn’t document it, it didn’t happen.

Remember, if you ever get audited, the only way to prove you’ve done HIPAA-compliant training for your front desk team is to document each time you hold a training session along with the outcomes.

Documenting these training sessions can be as easy as keeping a log that is updated each time a training occurs. Consider including the date of the training, the topic, who attended and the results of the training. It can also be useful to attach any handouts provided. Then, place your training log sheets in a binder so that you have them ready to go in case of an audit. As added protection, you can even choose to have everyone sign the training sheet.

Auditors look for this documentation as evidence that you are regularly working to stay in compliance and protect your patients’ confidential information. Carving out specific training times throughout the year and documenting it will protect your patients from having their personal information breached, and protect you from the hefty fines that can occur if found guilty of a HIPAA violation.

Take Aways:

  • Don’t leave your front desk team to solve HIPAA issues without specific training from you.
  • Use role-playing as a training method to help your front desk team recognize HIPAA-related scenarios and how they should be handled.
  • Keep a log of all your HIPAA training efforts to demonstrate your compliance with the law in case of an audit.

For more strategies for effectively addressing front desk related challenges, Coding Leader has a variety of front-desk specific training tools that can help. Several include the expert report and editable form library, Head Off  Front Desk HIPAA Nightmares, and the 3-part online training series: Front Desk 3-Part Training: Head Off Patient Disasters, Boost Collections, Avoid HIPAA Audits. You can view all upcoming live online training sessions at https://codingleader.com/pages/online-training-calendar.

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