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Guidelines and Practices Explained: What Medical Transcriptionists Use to Protect Privacy

SyberScribe AUTHOR: SyberScribe, October 14th, 2020

When it comes to an individual’s medical information, one cannot overestimate the importance of privacy. In fact, privacy is paramount. In a medical world where technology is enhancing operations, privacy concerns are now more significant than ever.

With the increase in electronic medical records, more people are becoming concerned about privacy. However, files, whether they’re paper or electronic, are protected by stringent privacy laws. 

Privacy is a concern individuals and organisations take seriously. That is why SyberSribe employs a diligent quality assurance process and adheres to privacy laws. This way, we can ensure patients can receive quality care while protecting their privacy. 

What organisations oversee medical privacy?

In medicine, privacy is so important that many organisations around the world deal exclusively with privacy and integrity in healthcare documentation. While there are different organisations, each aims to keep professionals accountable. They are educating and providing them with the tools to protect privacy while also ensuring data accuracy. 

The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity 

Established in 1978, the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI) sets standards of practice and education for medical transcriptionists. The association focuses on educating medical professionals in terms of what medical transcriptionists do and how their work affects the quality of healthcare. 

The AHDI also sets and upholds standards of practice in the field of healthcare documentation. This ensures the highest level of quality, privacy, and security when it comes to health information. By setting standards of conduct and ethical principles, the AHDI helps to safeguard patient privacy.

The American Health Information Management Association 

Known as the premier association of health information management, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) holds an ethical obligation to safeguard the privacy and security of health information. The AHIMA educates health professionals to improve their management of personal health information. 

How do privacy laws impact medical transcriptionists?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the American healthcare system. This act saw a national adoption of standards for handling electronic healthcare transactions. 

Recognising that advances in electronic technology had the potential to erode the privacy of health information, in 2002, the final Privacy Rule set national standards for the protection of individually identifiable health information. 

Australia’s privacy laws

Australia has some of the world’s most stringent privacy and confidentiality laws for patients. Passed in 1988, the Privacy Act is an equivalent to America’s Privacy Rule. It gives further layers of protection to safeguard patient data and other materials

The act is binding on every health service in Australia. Anyone owning or operating a healthcare business in Australia must adhere to the rules and regulations set out by the act. Legally enforceable, it covers patient health and private information.

How do medical transcription providers create a quality assurance process that aligns with codes of conduct?

In conjunction with each other, key organisations such as the AHIMA and AHDI have produced a cycle for quality assurance that medical transcription providers can follow and implement in their practices. 

This cycle consists of four key steps:

  1. Plan: Establish principles or objectives of quality assurance such as verifiability and consistency, identify factors that could affect quality assurance, and develop a plan.
  2. Do: Implement the plan. 
  3. Check: Measure the objectives to see how the organisation is meeting expectations. Allow for adjustment and analysis by checking the plan. 
  4. Act: Put into place any changes deemed necessary by the check phase.

Using this four-part cycle, medical transcription providers create a quality assurance process that aligns with the code of conduct and privacy laws. The cycle also enables continuous improvement by educating providers and professionals.

How do medical transcriptionists use these to protect privacy?

SyberScribe’s quality guidelines encompass two parts. Firstly, there are guidelines on how to operate on a day-to-day basis. Secondly, there are guidelines on how to strive for improvement. The guidelines ensure quality assurance in the present day and the future.

The SyberScribe quality management system delivers transcribed documents to the client at an accuracy level of 99% or higher. Four guidelines ensure they achieve privacy objectives:

  1. Transcribe reports accurately to reflect the true meaning of the author.
  2. Adhere to specifications and formatting guidelines.
  3. Guard patient confidentiality at all times.
  4. Complete and submit reports in a timely manner. 

Quality assurance is paramount when it comes to protecting patient privacy. Accuracy prevents a misdiagnosis while also ensuring information is handled correctly, categorised, and stored

An effective quality assurance program is not complete without up-to-date reference materials. Medical transcriptionists need materials such as the new edition of the Book of Style & Standards for Clinical Documentation to keep abreast of new standards and practices

Outsourcing medical transcription for accuracy and privacy

Outsourcing medical transcription jobs to medical transcription providers adds a layer of accuracy and privacy. As privacy laws also bind transcription providers, there isn’t an added risk involved in terms of privacy. With providers such as SyberScribe, patients can trust our operations include a high level of accuracy. 

SyberScribe uses the latest technology to manage voice and data distribution. Dictations and transcribed documents traveling through network lines are secured by the latest encryption and security processes to safeguard a patient’s privacy further. 

In the internet age, privacy is more important than ever. In response to growing privacy concerns, medical transcription associations and services have worked to ensure accuracy and privacy are paramount concerns. For fast-turnaround medical transcriptions provided with quality assurance measures in mind, enquire with SyberScribe today.