Hospice – Homecare – Preventing Medical Identity Theft

How to Prevent Homecare and Hospice Medical Identity Theft

As more and more baby boomers reach their golden years, more and more of them need the services of homecare and hospice agencies. This rapid influx is good for the industry, but agencies need to be as vigilant as ever in their hiring practices of caregivers.

Why? Because medical identity theft is on the rise, and homecare and hospice agencies are easy targets. You need to take immediate action to safeguard your agency, reputation, and clients from the growing threat of medical identity theft.

Medical identity theft is an insidious crime in which an identity thief uses someone else’s identity to gain access to medical services, treatment, or equipment. Since elderly patients are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of medical identity theft, your agency must take extra precautions. This includes stringent hiring protocols and foolproof IT policies and procedures.

Most agencies consult with experts to ensure their entire operation is protected from medical identity theft. Through a comprehensive review of the organization, medical identity theft experts ensure that homecare and hospice agencies:
• Perform thorough background checks on all employees: Employees are the first line of defense to prevent medical identity theft, so it’s critical that homecare and hospice agencies put employees through a rigorous screening process. A medical identity theft expert assists with criminal background checks, speaking with references, and setting up a system for maintaining extensive employee records.
• Create medical identity theft policies and procedures: Professional agencies need to have a strict set of policies and procedures in place to safeguard protected health information (PHI) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
• Ensure patient records are secure: Agencies should also have a secure IT network that only allows authorized users to access sensitive patient information. A medical identity thief can run rampant and ruin lives with the push of a button unless safeguards are built into the system. Complex passwords should be implemented only for those employees who need access to patient records.
• Make sure both the doctors and patients are “real”: Many medical identity thieves prey on the system by actually impersonating doctors and patients for monetary gain. This includes pretending to be a doctor to prescribe medication for the thief and/or his cohorts, as well as using another person’s insurance card to obtain medical services. Do your homework to ensure that physicians have professional references and admitting privileges to medical facilities.

As a homecare or hospice agency, you can significantly reduce your vulnerability to medical identity theft by working with a medical ID theft expert. Visit www.TheIdentityAdvocate.com or call 310.831.4400 to schedule your comprehensive medical identify theft review. And, don’t forget to ask how you can safeguard your agency with an eye-opening “Lunch and Learn” for your employees.

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