A Guide to Effective Patient Information Practices

A tablet displaying patient informationAs a healthcare provider, having accurate, up-to-date date patient information at your fingertips can make life so much easier. But often, this information is inaccurate or outdated. This can easily happen in a healthcare environment when you have numerous people responsible for working on these files. People may forget to update something or forget to enquire whether a patient’s contact details have changed, for example. Having a dedicated person to oversee the various aspects of patient information may help alleviate this problem.

The Patient Information Needed In A Healthcare Setting

The most common information collected and documented may include the following:

  • Patient name and current address
  • Contact details, e.g., email, cellphone number, home number, or work number
  • Health insurance info
  • Previous medical history including any family history of heart disease, diabetes, allergies, and other relevant issues as well as surgical history
  • Immunizations, tests, or therapies they may have had
  • Current health status, treatments, and medications used
  • Consent forms for treatments and procedures if applicable

Why Accurate Patient Information Is Essential

The main need for keeping accurate information is so that healthcare providers can immediately peruse a patient’s medical history. Patient information should include their health issues as well as treatment plans and medications used. This allows the medical provider to choose better treatments and make more accurate diagnoses.

Accurate and Complete Patient Information

For patient information to be of help, it needs to be 100% accurate. This includes both paper and digital record keeping. Yet mistakes often happen, such as spelling mistakes or entering the wrong digits for medication dosage.

Furthermore, accuracy is essential for a healthcare provider to set up a treatment plan or make adjustments. Your patient information may not indicate an existing health issue, and if you make medication adjustments during a treatment plan, it may negatively affect your patient.

Also, it is best to leave the input of patient information into your system in the hands of one, competent, qualified person. For example, two people, not 100% onboard with medical terminology, may interpret abbreviations differently. Furthermore, any data added to a patient’s record should be relevant yet concise.

Accessibility of Patient Information and Privacy

As a healthcare provider, you should have easy access to a patient’s records. However, with the advent of electronic record keeping, more than one person can have such access. The more people have access to this confidential information, the greater the chances of the information getting out to unauthorized third parties without a patient’s consent. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), clearly states that only authorized people may access patient information. And in cases where a practice still makes use of paper records, these should immediately be stored in a place of safekeeping after use.

You cannot overemphasize the importance of keeping your patient information safe. Limiting access to information is the best way of doing so. This could mean only giving a log-in to these files to certain people. Also, you could consider making use of the services of a HIPAA-trained medical virtual assistant from Cool Blue VA. Dedicated to the upkeep and safety of your patient information, these virtual assistants can work from anywhere and enter relevant information into eClinicalWorks. In so doing, you are assured of accurate, up-to-date patient information that stays safe.

Guidelines for Handling Patient Information

To remain HIPAA compliant, a healthcare practice needs to implement certain procedures and maintain compliance when storing sensitive information. To this end, they need to:

  • Limit access to these records
  • Both identify and take measures to protect against any breaches
  • Make sure those working with these records have adequate training.

Most of the virtual assistants at Cool Blue VA have some form of medical background. All have undergone HIPAA training. Making use of the services of one of our virtual assistants means they can safely input patient data making use of eClinicalWorks and guarantee the safety of patient information.

How Long Should You Keep Patient Information?

According to law, you need to keep patient records for a certain period. Each state in the USA, however, has its own requirements. In most cases, the requirements may be quite complex. You will need to ensure that whomsoever manages your patient information knows and understands the requirements of the state your practice resides in.

Removing Outdated Patient Information

In the event that a certain period has passed, and you no longer have the obligation of keeping patient data safe, you should ensure its destruction. This includes shredding paper documents until they become unreadable and using overwriting software or magnetic methods to destroy electronic information. The reason for these protocols is so that the information stays safe from illegal or unauthorized use.

Establishing Safety Protocols

Managing patient information safely and securely includes establishing certain policies and procedures. You may also need to regularly update them, especially when you make changes within your practice’s structure. Effective management includes the following:

  • Provide adequate training. Many patient information breaches result from hacking or from your employees not adequately managing patient records. Negligence is one of the main causes of security incidents.
  • All patient information should have the correct labeling. This makes it easier to pull up their relevant information.
  • Use up-to-date technology in your practice. This includes automating certain processes. By automating certain processes, you ensure less human interaction that could potentially lead to data breaches and inaccuracy.
  • Make sure that all patient data is stored safely. If making use of offsite storage, make sure that all safety protocols are in place.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant to Take Care of Patient Information

Hiring a virtual assistant to specifically take care of confidential patient information reduces the number of people in your practice who can gain access. Furthermore, these highly trained professionals have a vast knowledge of the various systems and procedures regarding the safekeeping of this type of information. Working off-site, their interaction with the rest of your in-house staff stays professional and limited to work. As a result, you reduce the risk of information spreading to other staff members by accident.

Hiring a virtual medical assistant has other benefits as well. An in-house hire’s salary is much more expensive, for example. Also, you do not have to factor in benefits like bonuses, sick leave, etc. commonly paid to in-house hires. Also, a virtual assistant can work at any time of the day or night. They do not have the same time constraints as an in-house hire. And using eClinicalWorks, they can input all relevant patient information quickly and accurately.

Why Hire a Medical Virtual Assistant Through Cool Blue VA?

Are you considering hiring a medical virtual assistant to manage patient data? Cool Blue VA offers top-notch virtual assistant services in the medical field.

When hiring through Cool Blue VA you get the services of an accomplished, HIPAA-trained professional who can effortlessly slot into your practice’s daily routine – from a distance. Also, as most of our virtual assistants have a medical background of some sort, they minimize the chances of mistakes occurring when inputting relevant patient information.

If you would like to know more about the benefits of hiring a VA to manage your patient information or the other high-quality services we offer, please call Cool Blue VA today! You can contact us at 714-695-8000. We love to help match medical professionals with their perfect virtual assistant!

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