HIPAA Compliance Redux

Today I picked up a couple of prescriptions from the pharmacy. Again it hit me how no one seems to really be paying attention to the privacy rules-oh if you ask them they show you all of the systems they have in place to meet those compliance standards, but those are quite simply just systems and systems do not fill the bill.As I was waiting in line and my time came I was handed a sign in form acknowledging my prescriptions. The previous customer information was still on the form but that is not the issue, after all I was right there when they picked up their prescription so their anonymity was already gone. I mean, after all, how do you pick up a prescription and not have everyone know it unless they issue everyone a paper sack to wear over their head the entire time they are in the store.The thing that got me was not what was asked but how it was asked. I have so often instructed my clients to not ask in this manner. The clerk asked is your address still 123 Main Street and is your date of birth January 1st? Anybody could have answered yes and she would not have known the difference. Once that person had the prescriptions, now they not only have an address and a date of birth but they now have the name from the bottles!Always ask, what is your current address? Make the patient give you the information. What is your date of birth? Again, make the patient give you the information. Don’t help them out, they know the answers, so do not help them out, make them answer. Do the same with insurance and other information. Say, your co-pay is $30 is that cash or check. Ask the patient for the information. Do not volunteer any information. The one that controls this encounter controls the visit and that should be you and your staff. Make this practice mandatory and you will see how quickly it becomes a habit and your practice will be getting the updated information on each and every visit and you will be getting paid. Your medical billing will run much more efficiently and you will collect more revenues. Each and every patient visit, ask the questions and make the patient answer the questions. No answers, no service.