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Health information exchange is an essential part of running a healthcare practice. U.S. laws require healthcare providers to release medical records to authorized individuals. These laws also penalize delays and unsafe methods of exchange. Should your healthcare facility hire new staff to handle protected health information or adopt medical records exchange software?

The costs of employee turnover

Imagine what would happen if the person who handles the release of information for your healthcare facility quit today. New requests wouldn’t stop coming in, and the deadline wouldn’t change for existing ones. Essential staff would need to move away from key tasks to help request and release electronic health records (EHR).

The healthcare industry is already a high-stress environment that experiences high turnover rates. The Work Institute’s 2020 Retention Report suggests that turnover costs are equal to approximately 30% of an individual’s salary. With medical record clerk salaries averaging between $35,000 to $40,000, it’s likely that each instance of turnover will cost over $10,000.

The hiring process today moves fast, and it is incredibly competitive. A potential new medical hire can submit the perfect resume to your healthcare facility on a Monday, and be hired by a competitor before you even get a chance to call. If you do manage to get an interview scheduled, there’s a good chance that they will accept a position with the highest bidder.

Each day that existing staff spends handling additional responsibilities pushes them a bit closer to a breaking point. As such, any major hiring delay could cost a healthcare facility even more employees, each one further raising the cost of hiring.

The staffing shortage limits your options

Since March 2020, patients in need of urgent care have overwhelmed hospitals and other healthcare practices. Many doctors, nurses, and support staff have felt additional stress in an already stressful environment. 

Unfortunately, with the highly contagious nature of COVID, they had to bring this stress home to their families. The industry lost a lot of workers due to burnout, refusal to vaccinate, the desire to protect loved ones, and other personal reasons.

Many of the individuals who quit or lost their jobs during the pandemic won’t return to work until COVID is eradicated. A labor poll by the United States Chamber of Commerce found that under half of the polled unemployed Americans are “strongly active” in their job hunt. 

Even more terrifying for healthcare facilities, about one-third of those polled said they would like to switch industries. There’s now a much higher chance a hiring manager will select individuals with little to no medical background out of necessity. 

Another driving force that could sway people to return is higher wages and large sign-on bonuses. As such, the labor shortage will likely cause healthcare facilities to pay more money for less experienced workers. 

Furthermore, the poll shows employee retention to be another factor. It found that 13% of workers left their job at the start of the pandemic, found another job, and left that one too. Of these individuals, 57% held their last job for less than 3 months.

For an industry with such intensive regulatory burdens, retraining new staff for HIPAA compliance every 3 months can be devastating. 

Training for HIPAA compliance is a burden

HIPAA is an incredibly complex set of regulations. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wrote the rules to be flexible. This helps healthcare facilities of all sizes operate in compliance despite differences in budgetary and technological capabilities. 

To accommodate the simultaneously stringent and flexible requirements to the best of their ability, each facility is required to perform a risk assessment. Through this, they can determine what the training process should look like. 

While large facilities generally have greater requirements than small ones, there is a lot of overlap. HIPAA doesn’t set out separate guidelines for covered entities of various size categories. Instead, it uses broad language with baseline requirements for all covered entities outlined. 

This broad language is apparent in the training guidelines for HIPAA, which states that employees of covered entities must take “necessary and appropriate” training. The covered entity can use their risk assessment to determine what is necessary based on their interaction with protected health information. 

When hiring an individual who will be directly handling medical records for day-to-day duties, they will need more intensive training. Additionally, staff must undergo training “periodically,” but failure to do so often enough could result in increased culpability – and fines – following a breach.

Most covered entities and their staff take at least one hour of training annually to remain compliant. Each instance of training for each employee costs the healthcare practice more money. 

For new hires, however, the training costs can be much higher if they’re unfamiliar with the rules of HIPAA. It’s not just one training session they’ll need, it’s months of monitoring protocols and correcting errors. If HHS determines that a breach was caused by negligence or poor training, the costs will be steep.

Save time and money with ChartRequest

ChartRequest helps healthcare staff easily navigate the otherwise complicated exchange of PHI. Our HIPAA-compliant release of information and care coordination software can help healthcare providers handle medical records exchange regardless of the size of their facility. 

A self-service subscription allows healthcare staff to release requested medical records using our streamlined platform. ChartRequest makes the release of information simple, which helps new employees hit the ground running. 

Our full-service subscription was designed for large and multi-location healthcare practices. This type of account enjoys all the features of a self-service account and more. Upon signup, full-service users outsource the entire ROI process to our experts.

The average medical records disclosure, including the calls fielded for status updates, can add up to about two hours. Thanks to the transparency ChartRequest provides, our users experience fewer phone calls. Requestors can check for status updates 24/7, and the provider chat feature allows them to connect digitally with any further questions. 

Additionally, we make HIPAA compliance a breeze with our double QA process, automatically generated audit log, and data management measures. Multiple users can create accounts for each healthcare practice, and the account admin can set permissions. It’s easy to make sure employees using ChartRequest can only access essential functions and information. 

Hiring new staff is not essential for handling health information exchange, and ChartRequest has a solution for healthcare practices regardless of the decision they make. Before hiring any new staff, explore our options and find out which plan works best for you.

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