There are plenty of reasons to keep medical records in a safe and secure location. Failing to do this can result in serious problems, legal action, and even jail time of up to 10 years. We recommend that you buy HIPAA-compliant locking bags to keep medical records secure.
Safekeeping of medical records are considered to be HIPAA (Health Information Portability and Accountability Act) compliant if they’re kept in a safe and secure location that’s sufficiently protected from unauthorized access. This typically means that the medical records aren’t only protected by a lock, but they’re also stored in a location that’s not easily accessible to the public.
The best way to ensure your medical records are HIPAA-compliant is to store them in a lockable, fireproof, waterproof, and burglar-resistant bag, safe, or other container that’s kept in a secure location. This will ensure that the records are protected and can’t be accessed by anyone who doesn’t have the proper credentials or authority.
What is HIPAA?
The HIPAA Privacy Rule was established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 1996. It was created to protect the privacy of patient medical records and other health information that’s collected, created, or received by a covered entity. The HIPAA Privacy Rule has been updated in various ways over the years. The latest update was in 2013, and it’s called HIPAA Omnibus Rule.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule applies to all health information that’s created, received, or used by covered entities. It also applies to any health information that’s transmitted by electronic means.
The rule also applies to any business associates of covered entities. Business associates are organizations that provide services to covered entities on a regular basis, and those services may include:
- Processing transactions
- Providing billing or claims services
- Providing technical support or services
The HIPAA Privacy Rule applies even if the business associate is not a covered entity. This means that if a covered entity uses a business associate to perform any of the functions listed above, the business associate must comply with the Privacy Rule as well. This also means that if the business associate is a covered entity, it must comply with both the Privacy Rule and the HIPAA Security Rule.
Best Storage Options for Securing Medical Records
There are plenty of options for storing medical records. You can store them in a lockable filing cabinet, fireproof or waterproof document bag, or even a safe. You can also store them in the cloud if they’re electronic records and your cloud solution meets HIPAA standards.
If you run a healthcare organization and need reliable medical record storage that’s compliant with HIPAA, here are some options that you should consider.
Locking Bags/HIPAA Compliant Locking Bags
These types of bags are often used by armored transport services that move large amounts of money between banks, retailers, and other types of businesses. They’re designed to protect highly sensitive and valuable cargo, so they work well for sensitive documents (such as medical records) in addition to money.
A lockable safe can provide you with extra protection against things like theft, unauthorized access, and even natural disasters and other environmental factors. A big downside to a safe, however, is that it might very well be somewhat large, heavy, and probably can’t store that many documents unless you get a really big one. This can limit how you store and transport your medical records.
Lockable Filing Cabinet
This method is convenient because lockable filing cabinets are so common in most office settings. If your organization has sensitive medical records that need to be locked up immediately, this may be your best option. You’ll still need locking bags to move around documents, however.
Electronically storing sensitive documents still comes with a lot of risks. But cloud security is big and still growing business. For security purposes, sensitive documents are best kept offline. But it’s also become the norm for organizations to store all kinds of sensitive documents digitally, which often requires some sort of secure cloud service. After all, digital documents allow for easier access to records when they are needed. Compare that to having to sift through tons of musty filing cabinets.
Fire-Resistant Document Bags
Fireproof document bags are probably the most secure means of storing sensitive documents. There are all kinds of fireproof and fire-resistant document bags on the market that work perfectly for storing medical documents.
How you store your medical records is a big deal. If you store them in a way that’s not compliant with HIPAA standards, you could face some serious legal consequences and even lose your business credentials.