Five Things to Look for When Choosing a Records Custodian

Maybe you are planning to close your practice, or you are in the contingency planning stages to shift your practice to its new phase. You realize that business and patient records are difficult to maintain, store, and distribute by yourself. You also realize there are retention laws that can penalize heavily if the records are not stored for the appropriate length of time. This is where a records custodian or records management company comes in. But how do you know you are choosing the right records custodian for your needs?

 

1. Will the records custodian do the work for you? Closing a practice is a difficult and unfamiliar transition. There are many facets that must be considered and in some cases, a records custodian may ask the closing practice or physician to do the work themselves. For example, quantifying records is the first step to records storage management, and how to do this can be found here. However, not only are most physicians unfamiliar with this process, but most do not have the time to perform these tasks themselves. We tailor our approach to your needs and budget.  With Cariend, we offer a white glove service which means we do the heavy lifting for you, so you don’t have to. We will quantify your records, support the boxing and shipment of physical records, and support the scanning of documents for digital records storage. We will interface with your patients to obtain records to support them, and you, through this transition. Our standard process is unique, honed through years of experience walking clients through this process. We call this “The Cariend Continuum”.

 

2. Will the records custodian maintain all formats of medical and business records? When closing a practice, there will be medical and business records that must be held for specific retention periods (also depending on the state you live in – find out more here). Many records management companies offer custodianship for medical records only requiring you to contract with a different vendor for your human resources or business records.  At Cariend, we provide records custodianship for both medical and business records. We also will handle all formats of storage including paper and digital. Many records custodians will only accept electronic medical records which have already been exported to PDF.  At Cariend, we accept native formats from various EMR vendors and will help you navigate this transition each step of the way. We aim to provide services to eliminate disruptions in the transferal of records, so you can focus on the other important factors of closing your practice.

 

3. How fluent is the records custodian on HIPAA compliance and other laws? As with all things, records custodians are not created equal. While many records management companies can store records, they may not be fluent in HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance and other laws which you will remain liable for. For example, information blocking is the act of inhibiting or preventing the exchange of electronic health information (EHI) to patients. This law pertains to all healthcare providers meaning the records company, or business associates, as well as the physicians, clinics, or hospitals that contract them. Another example is the newly proposed HIPAA change which reduces the time for patients to receive personal health information (PHI) from 30 days to just 15 days. Litigations against providers who are non-compliant have led to high-risk penalties, with settlements as high as millions of dollars. The mission at Cariend is to truly see you through this transition by providing patient care, cost certainty, and guaranteed compliance.

 

4. Does the records custodian charge patients to obtain records? A HIPAA compliant records custodian knows to only charge a maximum of $6.50 to obtain patient records. At Cariend, we do not charge patients to obtain records. Our model circulates around continuity of care with cost certainty and compliance. By not charging patients for their records, we eliminate any additional burdens to patients and ensure records are delivered in a timely fashion. We want your legacy to be focused on patients and ensuring they receive proper care. If you are interested to learn more about these laws, please visit this blog here.

 

5. Will they support you through the transition of closing your practice? The last question to really ask yourself when choosing a records custodian is – will they support me through this transition? Closing a practice will happen only once for most physicians, so it is imperative to find the right records custodian that suits your needs. Cariend has an experienced team that can truly support clients navigate through the nuances associated with closing. This includes patient notifications, release of patient information, working with IT (information technology) or EMR (Electronic Medical Records) vendors, and secure destruction of records following completed retention periods. To find out more about patient notifications, please visit our detailed blog here. Cariend also has a helpful resource checklist when closing a healthcare facility, which can be found here.

 

As always, at Cariend, we have our clients’ best interests in mind. In addition, we’re here to serve your needs in the event of a transition of your practice or medical facility.  When choosing a records custodian, be sure their policies and processes uphold continuity of care for your patients, ease the transition for you, and comply with all HIPAA statutory requirements so that your legacy is preserved.   If you have further questions, contact Cariend today.

 

 

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