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PHI: What It Is and Why It Matters

We’re no strangers to the importance of compliance and what it means to your small business. We’ve mentioned PHI and the important role it plays in the shredding personal health information. For those in the know, a discussion of PHI may seem inconsequential, but for those who are unaware, what exactly is PHI, and why does it matter?

PHI: Three letters to never forget

As you may have just figured out, PHI stands for Personal Health Information, and those three letters are something your business should never forget. Doing so could mean large fines, loss of business, and even legal trouble for your business, so it’s critical to remember exactly what PHI encompasses.

PHI refers broadly to any information which “[r]elates to the past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition of an individual; the provision of health care to an individual; or the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to an individual” (University of Miami)

And more specifically to any document or record related to a patient’s treatment, including:

  • Lab and insurance reports
  • Billing and coding information
  • Appointment times
  • Notes and phone messages
  • Anything that could divulge anything about a patient’s relationship with the practitioner

Why PHI matters

Now you know what PHI is, it’s important to know why it matters. Keeping PHI secure by outsourcing your document shredding services is important because it:

  • Saves you money

Outsourcing the shredding services of your PHI is a great way to save money. By letting another company do your document shredding for you (which is often cheaper than doing it yourself) save you time, money, and the stress that comes along with keeping everything secure.

  • Keeps you in compliance

Working with companies like DataShield, which can securely shred all your documents, also helps you maintain compliance. We’ll provide written certification that your PHI was securely disposed of, which helps with HIPAA audits and saves you headaches down the road.

  • Insulates you from fines

Regulators say that “training employees on proper PHI disposal and giving them simple written instructions insulates health care organizations from fines.” Once you outsource your PHI disposal, you’re well on the path to preventing fines and making sure that no data destruction or security slip-ups are made.

Protecting your PHI

If you’ve gotten this far, it should be clear to you just how important PHI is. And if you’re a business that deals with this kind of information on a daily basis, it’s important to protect yourself, both for your sake and the sake of your customers.

DataShield, which securely destroys documents, is here to make sure any and all of the PHI your business handles stays safe. By outsourcing your document destruction, you’ll get all the benefits described above (cost savings, compliance, and fine insulation) in addition to the peace of mind that comes along with knowing your documents are being securely handled by a trusted local company.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how DataShield can help your company maintain compliance and properly dispose of PHI, contact us today.

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