Accounting Automation & Beyond

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From Complexity to Compliance: Safeguarding Against HIPAA Hassles with AP Automation


There’s a bit of a paradox in healthcare: As important as it is to protect sensitive patient information on healthcare records, it’s equally important to keep that information readily accessible to the parties who need it.  

Access to personal health information (PHI) helps patients make the most informed decisions for themselves. However, if it’s too readily accessible, it can fall into the hands of bad actors who might exploit it for the wrong reasons.  

That’s why the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted, to set standards and define strict regulations that protect patient data from being shared or distributed without their consent.

One component of this is the HIPAA Security Rule: a rule designed to outline security practices that not only patient-facing organizations but also their back offices and business partners must follow to ensure full patient record safety. 

These protocols can be challenging and demanding to meet, especially in the finance department.  

Noncompliance in any industry can have severe legal and financial consequences, and in today's economic landscape, that's something no organization can afford. That's why it's essential for facilities bound to HIPAA regulations to be extremely selective when choosing software to house and process their PHI–and not all solutions are created equally. 

A HIPPA compliant business must, for instance, utilize an AP automation solution that is well-equipped to keep data safe. AP software that undergoes the same audits and is held to the same standards as your business allows you to maintain security compliance while you prioritize other critical aspects of your operations.  

Here, we’ll discuss the HIPAA Security Rule: what it is, its three main components, and how AP automation addresses each to help ensure your next HIPAA audit goes smoothly. 

What is the HIPAA Security Rule? 

The HIPAA Security Rule is a set of national standards created to protect electronic personal health information (ePHI) that is created, received, used, or maintained by healthcare providers and associated businesses.  

The Security Rule requires covered entities and business associates to implement three levels of consideration for both the confidentiality and availability of health records:

  1. Administrative, which requires the establishment of procedures and practices to keep PHI safe, such as enacting an organization-wide privacy policy and appointing a HIPAA privacy officer.  
  2. Physical, which requires tangible safeguards to protect PHI, like where and how your servers and filing cabinets are held.  
  3. Technicalwhich requires electronic security provisions like access permissions, audit controls, and individual authentication factors.

Organizations and associates that are required to maintain HIPAA compliance must consider compliance at every level of the business–it doesn’t stop at the clinic. 

Patient-facing facilities must confer with outside organizations, from insurance companies to outsourced medical billing centers. With so much sensitive data changing hands, these tenants of security protect patient data from being compromised at every level. 

How Does AP Automation Address the HIPAA Security Rule? 

Among the levels of security that a business must assess and manage, finance is one of the most challenging. With specific rules in place for financial transactions, including electronic invoicing and fund transfers, HIPAA compliant organizations must ensure that their accounting software can meet the rigid standards set in place. 

AP automation software that is subjected to its own annual HIPAA audits is able to offer healthcare organizations and adjacent business partners peace of mind knowing that their financial data is secure and compliant. 

HIPAA-compliant AP solutions address the three outlined components of the Security Rule in the following ways: 

  1. Administrative – AP automation simplifies the preparation and navigation of audit season for HIPAA privacy officers by centralizing the storage of ePHI (electronic protected health information). This consolidation allows teams to provide auditors with access as needed, eliminating the frustrations associated with manual paper record sorting and storage. 
  2. Physical The first line of defense in improving physical record security in the financial back office is eliminating paper. With AP automation, invoices, insurance claims, and other files containing patient data can digitally indexed using advanced capture methods and OCR scanning technology. This ensures that data is not only appropriately collected but also automatically indexed in a way that makes information easy to access and manage.
  3. Technical – By safeguarding ePHI behind password–protected software, AP software adds upfront technical security to your data storage. Best-in-class solutions will also allow administrators to configure role-based permissions, ensuring that only parties authorized to view data can do so. Lastly, an AP solution will keep a record of all document access with automatically recorded activity logs.

When each component of the HIPAA security rule is addressed by your AP automation software, finance teams gain peace of mind knowing that their data is securely housed and readily available upon request for patients and auditors. 


In Conclusion

In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, investing in software that safeguards profits is crucial for businesses, especially in the healthcare industry. With legal fines and business losses threatening organizations who fail to maintain HIPAA compliance, AP automation is a clear win for protecting your bottom line and offering added peace of mind for finance staff. 

Want to learn more about how DocuPhase can help your organization pass its next HIPAA audit? Book a demo with an automation expert today! 



A leader in Enterprise Automation software, DocuPhase delivers document management, workflow automation, and capture tools designed to help your enterprise stay organized and meet evolving technology and business needs.

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