As a physician, you are obliged to keep all information regarding your patients safe. Disclosure of their medical history, personal, or financial information is illegal under the HIPAA act which is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability act.
Protected health information or PHI includes all paper-based or digital data information that could disclose the patient’s name, contact details, medical records, credit card number, and insurance information. As a health care practitioner, you have to exercise extreme caution while processing payments so that no outside party can have access to the PHI of any of your patients.
In the United States, most of the health care costs are processed by insurance agencies. Yet, some expenses are not covered under the health insurance scheme and are paid by the patient either in cash or by card. Payments by credit cards have higher chances of information leak if your financial processing system is not secured by HIPAA compliance.
Core Financial Processing merchants provide HIPAA-compliant credit card processing for surgeons to ensure that all the transactions made at their medical centers are safe and secure. In addition to the safety, their processing system is also convenient, affordable, and flexible both for the patient and the medical surgeon. If you are looking to improve the cash flow in your medical practice, tying up with such reliable merchant solutions could be a game-changer for your finances.
Ways to link HIPPA compliance with credit card payments
To minimize the risk of information leak, you must first know the stakeholders that are involved in the processing of payments made by credit cards:
- The cardholder or the patient.
- Card issuer which could be a bank or a credit union.
- Health care or medical service provider.
- Networks that are used to process financial transactions.
It is the responsibility of the health care provider to choose network processors that are:
- Either compliant with the Data Security Standards of the Payment Card Industry (PCI DSS), or
- Have signed a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) against the breach of PHI.
In addition, a medical practitioner must follow these steps to comply with the HIPAA policies laid down to ensure secured financial transactions:
- Never disclose the patient’s medical record while processing bills, only state the payment amount that needs to be processed.
- Ensure that your email processing is secured and do not send payment receipts by text, phone, or non-secure emails.
- Use end-to-end or point-to-point encryption to communicate with the patient or their insurance provider.
- Ensure that the credit card information is not getting stored electronically.
- Using EMV chip technology rather than magnetic card readers can reduce the incidents of breach by as much as 76%.
- Do not use common smartphone apps such as PayPal or Facebook Money Transfer for receiving payments as they are not HIPAA compliant.
- Make data security your highest priority even if it means delayed payment in some circumstances.
Always ensure that the merchant system you are using does not store or process PHI through the merchant account number. Violating HIPAA terms could entail many legal consequences. This is why implementing the HIPAA based payment processing system as described above is extremely necessary for a successful medical practice.