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HIPAA-Compliant Payment Processing

When you think of personal health information (PHI), you probably assume it’s just your personal data, lab results, and medical records. Well, HIPAA covers more than that. For example, it also protects the financial information used to pay for healthcare services. So, you can use HIPAA-compliant payment processing features with your online payment forms.

When working with patients in the US, your organization must adhere to HIPAA regulations and ensure data security and protection for all types of information. You must consider the security of your patients’ information to operate a healthcare practice successfully. 

Let’s find out what HIPAA requires for payment processing and how you can upgrade to keep your payment methods secure. 

What Type of Data Does HIPAA Protect?

HIPAA covers 18 types of identifiers, including financial information like account numbers, health plan beneficiary numbers, and social security numbers, as PHI. Healthcare companies are authorized to store patients’ data to facilitate payment processing and accounting.

HIPAA requires organizations to protect financial information with the same level of security as any other data. Effective HIPAA-compliant payment processing improves payment speed, elevates the quality of your practice, and allows you to make new investments. Of course, it improves customer satisfaction.

Failing to protect all personal health information, including financial criteria, can result in legal trouble. That includes expensive fines and a bad reputation for your healthcare company or practice. 

How Do You Protect Financial Data with HIPAA?

Unfortunately, HIPAA does not provide specific guidelines on safeguarding financial data. You can use other industry standards as a north compass in this sense. 

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is an industry standard approved by credit card companies. It controls how companies can process credit card payments. Companies must comply with these standards to get closer to being HIPAA compliant

Ways to Keep Your Payment Systems HIPAA Compliant

Technology keeps evolving, and that includes finding new and safer ways to make payments for consumers. However, it’s up to you to use these new technologies and absorb them into your payment processing procedures. They can optimize how consumers pay and your internal processes at the same time. 

Here are some methods to secure your payment systems:

  • Focus on collecting financial data securely. Ensure that your forms are HIPAA-compliant when you collect billing and payment processing data. The forms must adhere to strict guidelines for the protection and privacy of sensitive patient information, including but not limited to:
    • medical history
    • treatment plans
    • insurance details. 
  • Keep stored data secure and encrypted. Ensuring that any stored financial data is secure and encrypted is important. It helps protect the data from unauthorized access, maintain confidentiality, and prevent potential data breaches. The same goes for physical data; you must keep it under lock and key at all times. 
  • Make sure that your hardware is equipped with the latest security features. Credit card readers have specific built-in security software. However, when using a mobile device payment method, you must ensure that your device has up-to-date security features. 
  • Turn off the SMS receipt feature. Some credit card processors send receipts to customers via SMS. Unfortunately, these channels are not secured or encrypted, so you can’t send receipts that include personal health information. Use a secure email or paper receipts instead. 
  • Know your business associates. With HIPAA compliance, you are required to sign business associate agreements with specific organizations you do business with. These documents lay out what you can and cannot do with the personal health information you collect via online forms. Your agreements with financial institutions that act as payment processors don’t fall under the business associate umbrella. So you don’t need to sign business agreements with them. But if your contract includes other types of financial services (like invoices or reports), you must sign business associate agreements with them to be compliant. 
  • Follow PCI DSS requirements. Certain measures, such as encrypting data transactions, setting up firewalls, and using antivirus software, are important to ensure data security. Another security feature to adhere to is restricting access to cardholder data and monitoring network resources. 

Follow these HIPAA-compliant payment processing steps to prevent hackers from stealing your patient’s data or causing a data breach. They also help your business stay safe from legal and financial problems that HIPAA violations can create. 

Final Thoughts

Don’t expose PHI to phishing attacks, data breaches, and hackers. Use basic security measures to carry out your day-to-day financial transactions easily from anywhere in the world without worrying about theft. 

123FormBuilder can help you become HIPAA-compliant with payment collection services. We have HIPAA-friendly forms and HIPAA compliance available. Give us a try; it’s free!

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