Is Your Transcription Service Protecting Your Patient Info?

A recent Orlando Sentinel report alerted patients of one of Florida Hospital Medical Group’s practices that their personal data may have been compromised because a transcription services company had used an unencrypted email account to send some patient medical records back to doctors’ offices.

We want you to know that this was not Consultants Health Care Services, Inc.

At CHCS, accuracy and patient confidentiality are paramount. CHCS uses a secure web portal for the delivery of transcription reports. Our clients access the web portal to securely download their reports either to their printer or directly into their EMR.

Orlando Sentinel News ClippingFlorida Hospital Medical Group is the physician-practice arm of Florida Hospital. According to the Sentinel article by Naseem S. Miller (4-9-16), the group issued a news release saying they had no reason to believe patient information was compromised. However, the unencrypted emails contained names, birth dates, medications and other information.

The group has stopped using the transcription company and is reviewing all vendors to ensure their practices meet federal requirements.

If you are a medical practice concerned about the security of your patients’ information, here are some questions you should ask your transcription service:

  • Does the transcription service understand HIPAA and have systems in place to assure you and your patients that all work is handled according to HIPAA requirements?
  • Does the transcription service provide you with secure communication for dictation, transcription and any other information transmission?
  • Will the transcription service take all possible steps to assure that your patient data is safe and secure?
  • Does the transcription service regularly review its security protocols and update them as necessary and appropriate?

If your transcription service cannot answer yes to all of these questions, your data may be at risk. Contact us to arrange for a no-obligation consultation to find out how we can help.

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7 Tips to get the Best Results from Your Transcription Service

As medical transcriptionists, we play an important role in the healthcare process. We are transcribing the notes that will become a part of the patient’s file, which means accuracy is critical.

Medical transcriptionist at workWhether you’re in the healthcare field or using transcription services for another reason, these tips will help you get the best results from your transcription service:

  • Enunciate clearly. Poor diction is the number one reason for errors in transcription. If you mumble, slur words or drop syllables, it forces us to ask you for clarification.
  • Speak at a normal, steady cadence. We know you’re rushed, but if you speak too fast, we may not be able to understand what you’re saying.
  • Avoid dictating while in your car on a cell phone. Road noise and poor cell connections can make it difficult for us to understand what you’re saying.
  • Avoid dictating from the nurses’ station or similar locations in your office or the hospital. Background noise and intercom announcements can drown out your voice and keep us from understanding you.
  • Identify the patient and include the chart number and date in your dictation. Double-check to be sure you’ve given us the correct patient information.
  • Medical transcriptionist at work in Winter ParkGive us a copy of your patient schedule. When we see your schedule, it’s easier for us to correctly match the transcription to the patient, and we don’t have to guess at how names are spelled.
  • Use templates. If you dictate the same information on a regular basis, create templates and give them to us to keep on file. Then when you’re dictating, you just have to note which template should be inserted at what point, and the transcriptionist can simply copy and paste the text. That assures accuracy, saves time and reduces costs.
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5 Tips to Protect Your Practice and Patients from Employee Dishonesty

One of the most damaging things that can happen to a medical practice is for an employee to commit a dishonest act, whether it’s stealing from the practice or a patient, deliberately lying, or doing something else that isn’t honest.

Meeting-1Here are five tips for protecting your practice from such conduct by employees:

1. Admit that it could happen. You may think you know your people, but how often have you seen news reports where someone was arrested and friends and family members expressed shock and disbelief? The reality is, we don’t always know people as well as we think we do. Also, circumstances can cause people to do things that are not in character. Admitting that it could happen is not saying that you don’t trust your employees; it’s simply recognizing that these things happen and your organization is not immune.

2. Screen your employees thoroughly. Conduct comprehensive background checks along with whole-person assessments so you have a thorough understanding to the character of the people you hire. If you need assistance with this process, contact the team at Consultants Health Care Services for details on how we can help.

3. Understand your legal responsibilities. Consult with an attorney to be sure you understand exactly what you are and are not liable for when it comes to employee conduct. For example, if one employee steals something out of another employee’s locker, are you responsible for the loss? If an employee steals from a patient, are you legally liable to make restitution? If something happens, you may decide to do more than is required, but you should know what your minimum legal obligation is.

4. Have the right insurance in place. Talk to your insurance agent about the different types of insurance that can cover you for crimes committed by employees.

5. Put procedures and controls in place so that it isn’t easy for dishonesty to occur. These will vary tremendously depending on the size and nature of your practice, but they can often be implemented easily and affordably. Make it clear to your employees that you don’t suspect them of any wrongdoing, but you are simply establishing systems that protect them as well as the practice.

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When Tragedy Strikes One of Your Staff Members

People who work together often become very close, and when tragedy strikes one of your employees, it can have a tremendous impact on your medical practice. A tragedy might be the death of an employee, either on or off the job; the death of an employee’s family member; a serious illness or accident, either on or off the job; the employee or a family member might be a victim of a serious crime; or even something like a fire in an employee’s home.

At Consultants Health Care Services, our clients are our partners and more – they’re like family. We’ve gone through some crises with them over the years and we’ve learned some things we like to share with you to help you help your employee and keep your practice on track, regardless of the nature of the incident.

  • Comfort-1Take care of the victim. Find out what that person needs and make sure it’s provided. Such needs could range from simple moral support to assisting with a variety of logistical issues, such as transportation, food, and dealing with inquiries from friends and even the media. Because Central Florida has a high percentage of people who have come from other parts of the country, it’s likely that many of your practice’s employees do not have local family members to turn to in a crisis and they turn to coworkers for support that would otherwise be provided by families.
  • Take care of your other employees. Give them a chance to talk about what has happened and provide grief counseling if necessary to help them cope. Particularly if it was an on-the-job incident, remember that the people who were not injured may suffer what what’s known as survivor guilt.
  • Keep your patients and suppliers informed. As with co-workers, a bond that goes beyond “strictly business” usually develops between your staff members and the patients and suppliers they have cared for and worked with over time. Those patients and suppliers will likely want to express their concern for the affected employee, and they also need to know how the tragedy will affect your practice, particularly in terms of rescheduling appointments.
  • Help smooth the victim’s return to work. People don’t always know how to treat someone who has suffered a tragedy, so take steps to help the person ease back into the workplace. Consider an off-site meeting with colleagues in a casual, candid atmosphere, if possible, before the affected person resumes their duties.
  • Expect performance variations. You may see noticeable changes—either positive or negative—in the affected employee’s performance for a long time. Also, there may be a variety of tasks that person has to deal with in the aftermath, such as insurance claims and other legal issues. Be as patient and helpful as possible, keeping in mind that you also have a practice to run. If appropriate, encourage the employee to seek counseling or other necessary assistance.

Of course, the entire team at Consultants Health Care Services is here to help in any way we can.

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Give Your Medical Practice an Annual Checkup

Stethoscope iconFor a healthy operation, your medical practice needs an annual checkup. Take the time once a year to step away from the day-to-day activities and look at what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong – and what you need to do about it.

The multi-step process of conducting an annual checkup involves studying your history, forecasting for the future, communicating with suppliers, patients and other professional associates, then organizing all of the elements of the exercise into a productive and useful format.

An effective annual review needs to be as thorough as possible. Take a look at these specific areas:

  • Mission statement. Is your mission statement still valid? If not, revise it. And if you don’t have one, create it.
  • Business plan. Compare what you planned to do with your actual results, and analyze why things worked the way they did – or didn’t. Go through each section, updating as necessary to make the plan an accurate reflection of the practice with a clear forecast for the coming years.
  • Employee compensation and benefit packages. How do your pay scales and bonus plans compare with other medical practices in your area? Benefits play a major role in creating job satisfaction and employee loyalty; how satisfied are your workers with what you are offering? Could your benefit resources be realigned for improved employee relations?
  • Insurance. Review all your policies with a line-by-line coverage and cost analysis. Let your agent know about any changes in your operation that could require changes in insurance, and ask about new insurance products that may be beneficial for you.
  • Security. Be sure all your data, especially confidential patient records, is secure from hackers and crashes. Consider physical safety: is exterior lighting adequate? Are locks sturdy? Are measures in place to protect late-night and solitary workers? Who has keys? Security experts recommend changing locks, alarm codes, and other security passwords at least once a year.
  • Professional relationships. Be sure the people you rely on for advice and support—your attorney, accountant, financial planner, medical transcription service, other consultants, etc.—have the knowledge and skills appropriate for your needs.
  • Financial relationships. Review the details of your banking agreements, commercial loans, and leases. Renegotiate these contracts if you can get a better deal.

RX iconOther areas to examine include legislative and regulatory changes, patient satisfaction, vendor terms and relationships, maintenance and service contracts, office furnishings and equipment, computer systems, freight, and telecommunications systems.

Need assistance with your annual practice check-up? Call the team at Consultants Health Care Services, Inc. to schedule a consultation.

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