How to save time when collecting electronic protected health information

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Chris Byers
Chris Byers

As a professional at an independent living, assisted living, memory care or continuing care retirement community, you know how important compliance with HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is when collecting sensitive healthcare information from residents or employees. You also know that collecting and managing electronic protected health information (ePHI) can be a major drain on your time when you have to continually update online records via paperwork, faxes or scanned documents.

One option to help with this problem is HIPAA-compliant forms. Digital record release forms, medical history forms, prescription requests and other HIPAA compliance forms can save you hours of manual data entry. Not only can you save time, but you also can maintain high security standards.

Ready to learn more? Here are three ways you can use HIPAA-compliant forms to save time when managing electronic medical records and other ePHI.

1) Store information in a single, secure location

It's easy to lose track of information when it is scattered across departments — or even your desk. You can save your community, parent company or human resources team a lot of time and effort by compiling all of that information in one place.

Online HIPAA compliance forms make this easy. When someone submits an online form, his or her information is sent to a secure, digital database for easy referral and storage. Instead of digging through records or waiting for data to be passed to your team, you immediately can access the information you need from the database.

Special precautions such as auditing, access controls and logging ensure that only the appropriate personnel, doctors and other stakeholders have access to sensitive information. To make matters even easier, most databases can be accessed anywhere via mobile, tablet or desktop devices.

2) Automatically create and update electronic medical records

Manual data entry is a huge time-sink, even before you consider all the inevitable human error. How many times have you had to manually create a new entry or correct an entry that was logged with incorrect information? Enough is enough. HIPAA-compliant forms can do all that work for you.

For example, say you want to create a new medical record for a resident. You easily can do so by setting up a HIPAA-compliant form that collects medical history data. Once the resident submits the form, you'll be able to access the information instantly instead of having to manually create the electronic medical record yourself. Streamlining this process alone could save you hours of time (and stress).

3) Accomplish tasks faster with streamlined processes

When you take away the stress of gathering and storing ePHI, it becomes much easier to focus on other tasks. You can do a lot more with your HIPAA-compliant forms than just collect information. For example, you can gather feedback from residents or employees, collect e-signatures on time-sensitive documents, process prescriptions and other requests, send confirmation emails or gather file uploads. All the tasks you normally would have to do in person, on paper or over the phone can be accomplished online with HIPAA-compliant forms.

Your responsibilities to your residents are more meaningful and important than the administrative duties that come along with your position. Try to maximize your organization's time and ability to care for residents by streamlining your administrative procedures. See whether using HIPAA-compliant online forms can save time and help you maintain strong security standards.

Chris Byers is the CEO of Formstack, an Indianapolis-based company offering an online form and data-collection platform. Before Formstack, Byers co-founded an international nonprofit that was built via remote relationships among partners in Europe, Africa and the United States.

McKnight's Senior Living welcomes marketplace columns on subjects of value to the industry. Please see our submission guidelines for more information.

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