Think you're not doing telehealth? Think again. Although there's no one-size-fits-all definition that cuts across state and/or discipline lines, most agree that telehealth basically involves any electronic method you use to communicate with or about your clients. This can include common things like phones, email and electronic file storage, in addition to video sessions, which is what we typically think of with the term telehealth.
I sometimes hear therapists mention specific software programs they’re using in their practices for tasks like notes, calendar/schedulers, online file storage, billing, video sessions or email and then add something like, “They’re HIPAA compliant. They just don’t – you know – have Business Associate Agreements.”
There are no HIPAA compliant products or services, because by definition, only HIPAA covered entities (e.g., you) and business associates (e.g., PSYBooks) can be compliant. In other words, it’s not a product or service that’s compliant, it’s how you, as a covered entity, or we, as a business associate, write and implement our policies and procedures to utilize those products.
In addition to being able to store files for each client, you can also upload and store your own digital records in an area set aside just for you. It’s important to note that files are maintained separately. Client files are stored in their charts – separate from all other clients and also separate from your personal files. This is one of the ways PSYBooks adheres to HIPAA/HITECH guidelines.
Each of your charts in PSYBooks has a Files tab where you can upload files specifically to that client’s chart. For example, initially you might want to upload scanned copies of their intake forms, insurance cards and/or driver’s license. Later on, you may want to upload copies of releases and consents, EOBs, reports or testing results. If you want, you can also keep copies of routine things you generate such as statements, insurance claims or receipts. Should your client request a PHI report, you can also upload that to their chart so you’ll have a record of what you gave them. There are several advantage to storing these kinds of documents in PSYBooks:
User Accounts can be established for anyone you need to grant access to some or all of your PSYBooks records. For example, you might want to create User Accounts for billing personnel, scheduling personnel, supervisees or a colleague who is covering for you. You can allow the user to access the records of all of your clients or just certain ones.
The Activity Log is designed to meet HIPAA/HITECH specifications for tracking PHI. PSYBooks logs almost everything that takes place within the app and displays it for you in the Activity Log. The filter section of the Activity Log report looks like this:
Before I started using practice management systems, being required to produce a client’s medical record was a bit scary for two reasons:
- First, I typically only received those requests when something important was going on, i.e., a legal proceeding of some sort, a disability or worker’s comp situation, or maybe something having to do with insurance. They were the kinds of things where I felt that a lot might be at stake for my client (and/or for me) so I wanted to make sure I “did it right”.
- Second, although I had my own system for organizing client files, the reality is that my records were scattered everywhere. I kept files on current clients in one filing cabinet – unless a certain file got too big, in which case I moved older portions of it to another filing cabinet, unless there was also large artwork in the file, in which case it had to go in the lateral filing cabinet. When a client terminated, files got moved to a storage area in my basement at home. If the client later returned and their file had been especially large, part of it would be brought back to my office, but older parts remained in my basement at home. Then, of course, some documents were on my computer – a smattering of various Word docs and Excel sheets I had pieced together for special notes I had written on clients, letters I had written on their behalf, and various attempts at coming up with THE perfect method for determining how much a client owed me when insurance was involved. I had also tried efiling for awhile at various insurance company’s websites, so some of my records were on various sites on the Internet, too. Somehow, when I was asked to produce a medical record, even though I knew I had everything I needed, finding it all and pulling it all together into some type of meaningful report was a daunting task.