PHI: What it is and Why it Matters

PHI stands for Personal Health Information. Three letters to keep top of mind if your business handles documents that contain this type of information.  Keeping personal health information protected is essential. Not doing so can result in compromising your client’s privacy not to mention fines, loss of business credibility and potential lawsuits.

The Department of Health & Human Services´ Office for Civil Rights has defined PHI as “any Personal Identifying Information that – individually or combined – could potentially identify a specific individual, their past, present or future healthcare, or the method of payment”. And more specifically to any document or record related to a patient’s treatment, including (but not limited to):

  • Lab and insurance reports
  • Geographic data
  • Health plan beneficiary numbers
  • Full face photos and comparable images
  • Billing and coding information
  • Appointment times
  • Notes and phone messages
  • Anything that could divulge anything about a patient’s relationship with the practitioner

Now that you know what PHI is, let’s break down why you should consider outsourcing your shredding to make your life easier and limit your exposure.

 

Saves You Money

It is a common misconception that outsourcing shredding is more expensive than doing it yourself. This belief directs many businesses to shred in house. The reality is, once you factor in the pay of the person you have assigned the task, combined with taxes and any benefits they may earn, you’ve far exceeded the cost of hiring a professional shredding service. In fact, not only is it more expensive to shred your own documents, but it is not nearly as secure. No one understands the value of the information your business handles more than your own employees. Combined with the fact that the material destined for shredding is often unsecured and takes a back seat to many other tasks makes it markedly less secure than outsourcing. Data destruction is vital in protecting your identity and company.

 

Keeps you in compliance

Whether you choose a service that takes place when and where you need it, like Shred Vault, or hire a professional shredding vendor like DataShield, you’re making a definitive step toward protecting your PHI. Both Companies provide a Certification of Destruction that proves your documents were securely shredded; demonstrating your compliance with the law and providing you with the chain of custody you’ll need should you ever have an issue.

 

Insulates you from fines

One thing small businesses and major corporations have in common is their distaste for fines. When a company fails to comply with PHI regulations the fines can be crushing. Penalties can range from $100-$50,000 per record or patient. These fines are based on the level of negligence and can easily reach six figures depending on the type of violation. Additionally, criminal charges or jail time is sometimes on the table for the violator.

 

Protecting your PHI

If you’re a business that deals with this kind of information on a daily basis, it’s important to protect yourself and your customers. Violating HIPPA regulations is an unfortunate, but common error that by outsourcing shredding of confidential information can be prevented. Shred Vault, your go to solution for securely destroying documents, is committed to making sure all of the PHI your business handles stays safe. Outsourcing your shredding needs reduces the stress and potential exposure, so you can focus on your business. Shred Vault—compliance, security and peace of mind at a price you can afford.

Find out more about how Shred Vault can help you and your company maintain compliance today.

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