Applications found in HIPAA compliant accounting software will provide compliance to ensure you can provide accurate and timely medical billing. This includes end-to-end claim tracking, checks and balances, patient scheduling, insurance billing, and ICD-10 compliance.
HIPAA compliant accounting systems are mostly used by small to mid-sized medical practices, clinics, and allied health professionals. These systems may be marketed as generic accounting systems that are HIPPA compliant, medical practice management solutions, or medical billing software. To decide which one will work best for your organization, you’ll need to decide which additional features beyond core accounting are important to you.
HIPAA compliant accounting software provides audit trail capabilities for protected health information (PHI), sets user permissions, and includes a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) from a vendor which guarantees compliance with HIPAA standards. To maintain HIPAA compliance in an accounting system, it needs to adhere to HIPAA rules for handling PHI and withstand a 3rd party audit for adherence to HHS’s OCR audit protocol.
HIPAA compliant accounting software can be a medical accounting software (either on-premise or cloud-based) that was created for the healthcare industry and can handle any liabilities involved in managing protected health information. It can also be a generic accounting solution that has been successfully implemented into medical environments and has vendor-backing that reassures the ability to handle PHI in a compliant manner.
Accounting features found in HIPAA compliant accounting software are typical with those found in standard accounting systems, such as accounts payable (AP) for buying medical supplies, accounts receivable (AR) for medical billing (billing both insurance and patients), and a general ledger to evaluate the company’s income and expenses in real-time.
Some of the top benefits of HIPAA compliant accounting software include:
Health regulations and standards are constantly changing. On top of that, new accounting challenges may appear within your organization that leaves you curious about how you can stay compliant while still providing the financial management your practice deserves.
You’ll want to have a strong relationship with your HIPAA compliant accounting software vendor. Anytime a new software functionality is developed or an update occurs to your accounting system, you know you’ll have a dependable person you can rely on to explain how it affects your compliance concerns.
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was signed into law back in 2009 after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In the health industry, the Recovery Act, or ARRA, works as a stimulus package to invest in infrastructure. Its purpose is to promote the use of technology, which led to many health organizations looking to improve their current EHR systems.
The goal of HITECH is to promote meaningful use, which in part established some rules and regulations:
In terms of HIPAA compliant accounting software, HITECH sets forth punishment that organizations can face for wilful neglect when it comes to handling sensitive medical information. Many organizations look to make sure they are HIPAA compliant to avoid having to deal with any imposition of penalties as laid out from the HITECH Act.
In the medical community, there is much debate as to whether you should pursue a HIPAA compliant accounting software, or go with a medical practice management software that includes medical billing as a primary feature. Some software professionals argue that any confidential patient information relevant to HIPAA should not be stored in accounting software, and even go as far as to suggest using specialized software developed specifically for medical billing.
Without a dedicated accounting system tied into your medical practice management tool, standard accounting workflows may be difficult to accomplish at your organization. Health offices need to bill both insurance agencies and the patient, or even collect co-pays with cash in hand. All of your patient information can be stored in practice management solution, but how do we easily transfer their billing info into the accounting program? This situation can lead to many cases of duplicate entry which can be a loss of time for your organization.
Many software programs can be used in a compliant manner. By definition, any software that avoids HIPAA violations is technically HIPAA compliant. There is no governing body that will officially stamp a software as being HIPAA compliant. Whether the software is marketed as HIPAA compliant accounting software or as medical billing software, you can rest easy knowing they are providing you with the same functionality.
You’ll want to make sure your accounting software provider is a covered entity, which means they are handling your ePHI in a compliant manner. This means any invoice you are sending out to your patients or the insurance companies will not be in any sort of violation.
While QuickBooks Online does provide adequate online security on par with accounting industry standards, it is not compliant with HIPAA standards for privacy.
Many smaller medical practices may find comfort in the familiarity, ease-of-use, and inexpensive price of QuickBooks. When it comes to patient billing and refunds, it’s natural to want to use your core accounting program of QuickBooks. However, patient names, addresses, and medical record numbers are PHI and should not be used within QuickBooks.
While QBO can do invoicing, it was not designed to handle medical billing. Things like insurance invoices, cash payouts, deductibles, and co-pays are best used by your HIPAA compliant accounting software or medical billing solution.
If you are creating an invoice for a customer that includes their name, address, and account number with a non-HIPAA compliant cloud-based solution, that can be considered to be violating HIPAA regulations via federal law. There are workarounds that can prevent you from facing HIPAA violations, which include:
While you may not be able to look up patient records and check their personal care history in QuickBooks Online, you can still monitor the ongoing financial performance of your clinic on a month-to-month or year-to-year basis. You can break down revenue that is brought in from insurance companies, cash-paying patients, and monitor expenses that were specifically for performing treatments.
The bottom line is while it is possible to use QuickBooks Online in your medical practice, patient health information must be de-identified and protected.
No matter what size your healthcare organization may be, you’ll want to make sure you have the right set of functionalities to meet your most pressing needs.