Small Office Tips
By Don M. Cross, D.C.
No matter how small your office is, we no longer get excluded from regulations as we are accustomed. We have to meet the same HIPAA and HITECH requirements that the large practices or multi-doctor clinics have. In my practice, we have an office manager, a C.A., and my associate doctor. I’m not on site very often, so these three people have been able to launch the compliance program and bring our operations into compliance with the new regulations. So I know you can too.
Of course with this small number, the staff has to wear more than one hat. My associate is also the Safety Manager, while my office manager is the Privacy Officer. We set aside a couple of hours each week during non-treatment times for reading the new manuals.
Doing the reading in steps makes it much easier for everyone. Starting to use the new procedures was less of a chore than expected. As something came up that required the new procedures, we switched at that time. Once you’ve read the new manuals, it is easy to recognize when a new procedure is required and one of the action steps in the launch program requires compiling a list of new procedures. So it has been a gradual transition which hasn’t overwhelmed our Office Manager/Privacy Officer.
We transitioned into the new office forms in the same manner. We first started with the new patient paper work. There are new Patient Information Forms with the manuals, but our current demographic form has the same info, so we didn’t have to switch. You may not have to either, if your current form includes all of the same information. The one which we immediately changed was the new Receipt of Privacy Practices form, right “the HIPAA form” we’ve been having our patients sign for the last 1o years. You will need to switch to the new one as well. I’m sure you have heard “there’s an app for that,” well now we joke “there’s a form for that.” One of the most obvious changes for our small office is the number of new forms. It has begun to pay off though. When the office is busy with patients, we don’t “forget” or miss following up on some referral, because “there’s a form for that” and a log to place them into. So we’ve become more organized, not a bad thing.
Our training is very informal, the Office Manager will read the new procedure and we spend time discussing how we will get the procedures accomplished. After the first compliance staff meeting, the complaining has decreased as the staff has begun to value the organization of the new procedures. So the best tip I can give you is to go slowly and trust your people. Together you can get it done!
Here's Your Step-by-Step Solution: The ObamaCare Compliance Manuals are designed to allow a very small office to become compliant with just a few staff.