Monday, April 11, 2022

How to Implement HIPAA for Your Physical Therapy Practice

The web provides many ways for you to quickly communicate with and provide valuable services for your physical therapy clients. Unfortunately, it can also provide many opportunities for cyber criminals to access your clients’ sensitive information if you fail to take the proper precautions.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was signed into law to ensure that your clients’ health, financial, and identity data does not end up in the hands of a criminal. HIPAA provides a template for you to  safeguard your PT clients` information, no matter which file format you use.


The guidelines that eventually formed HIPAA were initiated to prevent data breaches within the medical industry. When medical professionals transition from one job to another, there is a need to keep their information secure and portable for purposes of  health insurance coverage. This framework for data protection evolved to serve the general public, and HIPAA was signed into law in 1996.

What does HIPAA do?

Whether you create patient files from scratch, share them in various forms—electronically, physically, or over the phone over internet—or simply store them, HIPPAcompliance for physical therapists and HIPPA compliance for chiropractic requires you to do so safely. You need to have safeguards in place for all your clients’ protected health information (PHI), which includes:

·       Email addresses

·       Social Security Numbers

·       Medical record numbers

·       Biometric identifiers such as fingerprints, voice prints, and retina scan images

What is Considered a HIPAA Violation?

Any time you handle client information without the proper tools in place to prevent a data breach, such as encryption, you are in violation of HIPAA laws. For example, you or one of your employees might engage with a client during a telehealth session using an app that lacks encryption.

The penalty for this kind of violation could be one year in prison and additional financial penalties for both you and your employee. To avoid this pitfall, only use telehealth apps that are known to be HIPAA compliant.

How to Keep Your PT Clinic HIPAA Compliant

To avoid operating on the fly, you should create your own standartsfor HIPPA compliance within your PT practice. Some professionals have signage with vivid graphics and catchy phrases that serve as visual cues and reminders for staff to always protect client data. You should also hold classes and refreshers regularly, to ensure that everyone understands your HIPAA protocols.

Electronic Files

If you create, store, or share your clients’ data across electronic platforms, you must ensure that those systems use the following:

·        Secure passwords

·       Data encryption

·       Antivirus and malware protection


One of the most pervasive problems in data protection is phishing scams. These entice unsuspecting people to open emails that appear to be from a trusted source, and then trick them into providing protected information. Educate yourself and your employees about this kind of activity so that everyone knows how to recognize suspicious emails and avoid scams.

Blogging and Social Media

Social media can be a lot of fun, allowing you to engage with your clients and potential clients in a less formal environment. However, even on these platforms, you should be mindful to comply with HIPAA.

Change your passwords often to reduce the likelihood of your accounts being hacked. If your accounts do become compromised, change your passwords immediately and notify everyone on your friends lists. It’s best to be transparent and fix the problem immediately. Your promptness in addressing the dangers will be yet another demonstration of your professionalism and your concern for your audience.

Telehealth Apps

When it’s time to choose a telehealth app, find one that has all the right safeguards in place to protect your clients’ data. You can look to the HHS website, where they have created a section that outlines the elements that should be included in a HIPAA compliant PT health app.

Cloud Storage

Any cloud service providers (CSPs) that you work with will also need to practice HIPAA compliance. Even if a third party handles your cloud storage for you, any information they deal with must be properly secured.

HIPAA Compliance for a Better PT Clinic Reputation

Any violation of your clients’ privacy is the opposite of the attentive service you provide as a PT professional. To maintain their trust and continue changing their lives for the better, seek the help of professionals. The data security professionals can help you maintain a HIPAA compliant website and establish a plan for marketing for physical therapists, to bring more new clients through your doors while securing the data of your loyal customers.

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