Want to Trump Practice ID Thieves? Heed This Expert Advice

Posted on 14 Dec, 2015 |comments_icon 3|By Chris Boucher

Rx pads, unprotected computers are theft hotspots.

We all know the problems that can arise when a patient’s medical identity is stolen. Unfortunately for medical offices, these same identity thieves are trying to nab your practice’s information as well.

Take some advice from CMS’s course “Safeguarding Your Medical Identity,” which showed practices how to stay a step ahead of identity thieves.

Definition: “Medical identity theft is the inappropriate [use] or misuse of a patient’s or physician’s unique medical identifying information to obtain or bill public or private payers for fraudulent medical goods or services,” said Shantanu Agrawal, MD, a medical director with CMS, during the presentation.

See also: Prep for OCR Scrutiny As HIPAA Continues 2015 Reviews

To bulwark your medical identity, and that of your practice, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Keep up with prescription pads. “Anyone can walk away with them if they are left in the open,” Agrawal noted. You should also use tamper-resistant prescription pads, which Medicaid has required since 2008. These must include a watermark or thermal ink, which show attempts to alter prescriptions. These methods are not foolproof, however, so lock up prescription pads when they are not in use.
  2. Activate computer log-ons. “Disabling log-ons is a dangerous practice, and sometimes people do it to make life a little easier and access quicker for employees,” Agrawal said. However, these steps are essential to keeping the information on the computer safe. Each staff member should have a unique log-on code, and if an employee leaves the practice, remove his log-on access immediately so he can’t get into the system.
  3. Avoid sharing when possible. Even doctors doing things correctly are still at risk for medical identity theft. One big risk factor is when doctors have given their identifying numbers to high numbers of other entities, such as giving your tax identification numbers (TINs) and national provider identifiers (NPIs) to various clinics, hospitals, doctors and mid-level providers.


Chris Boucher

Chris Boucher has nearly 10 years of experience writing various newsletters and other products for The Coding Institute. His blog will cover several areas of coding and compliance, including CPT® coding, modifiers, HIPAA compliance and ICD-10 coding.

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