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What Can Physicians Charge for Medical Records?

What Can Physicians Charge for Medical Records?

The State of Alabama Board of Medical Examiners amended its rules that govern the fees physicians may charge to provide patients with copies of their medical records.2 The rules are set forth in Section 540-X-9-.10(2) of the Alabama Administrative Code, and the new rules became effective April 13, 2018.

Here are the key dos and don’ts physicians should take into account to determine how much (and whether) they should charge patients for copies of their records.

Don’t charge anything other than a “reasonable, cost-based fee” for necessary supplies, labor and postage.

As in the past, the new rules permit a physician to recover a reasonable, cost-based fee to comply with a patient’s request for copies of his medical records, subject to the prohibitions, requirements and recommendations below. Federal law and applicable U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) guidance specify that a reasonable, cost-based fee may include (i) certain costs for the labor required to copy the medical record (subject to certain limitations, as noted below); (ii) the physician’s costs reasonably incurred for supplies (e.g., costs for paper, toner and the like for paper copies, or for CDs, USB drives, or similar electronic media, if requested); and (iii) the physician’s costs reasonably incurred for postage, if the patient requests mail delivery to him or his designee. Only charge postage if the patient specifically requests mail delivery (and agrees to be responsible for the cost).

Don’t charge a “search” fee or other labor costs not specifically authorized by law.

Physicians may recover only certain, limited costs for labor required to copy a patient’s record. The fee may not include the physician’s costs, if any, to verify or document the patient’s request, costs to search for or retrieve the record, or costs to access, store and maintain electronic or paper records, or similar infrastructure costs. Among other things, this means that “search fees,” authorized by state law, are prohibited following the issuance of the new ALBME rules.3

In determining a reasonable, cost-based fee, labor generally may be calculated using either of two methods: (a) the physician’s actual labor cost to respond to the patient’s request; or (b) the average cost to respond to a similar request, based on a schedule.

Don’t charge more than the statutory limits, no matter what.

In contrast to prior rules, the new rules include additional nuance pertaining to the permissible charge for copying electronic medical records.

If the patient requests a paper copy of his medical record, whether the record is maintained in electronic or paper form, or an electronic copy of his paper record, the physician may charge a reasonable, cost-based fee, calculated using the factors listed above. The fee may be a per-page fee, so long as it is a reasonable, cost-based fee.4 As in the past, the new rules limit the amount a physician may charge for copies to $1.00 per page for the first 25 pages and $.50 per page for additional pages, plus the actual cost of mailing the record.5

However, if the patient requests an electronic copy of his electronic record, (i) the physician may not charge a per-page fee (regardless of amount); and (ii) the physician may either charge (a) a reasonable, cost-based fee, as determined above (subject to the prohibition on per-page fees) or (b) a flat fee of $6.50.

Don’t charge patients for copies if they can’t afford it.

Significantly, recent changes in federal and Alabama laws (i.e., HIPAA and the new ALBME rules) prohibit a physician from charging any fee to make copies of the medical record of a patient who is not able to pay.6 Unfortunately, there is no specific guidance to help physicians determine whether a patient is able to pay a reasonable, cost-based fee. The new rules indicate that, in making this determination, physicians “should give primary consideration to the ethical and professional duties owed to other physicians and to their patients.”

Don’t charge for access via an online patient portal.

Likewise, physicians may not charge a fee to a patient to access his electronic health record. Specifically, HIPAA precludes physicians and other covered entities from charging a fee to the patient to access his record using the View, Download and Transmit functionality of a certified electronic health record (“CEHRT”).

Notify the patient about any charges in advance.

Laws also prohibit a physician from charging a fee for copies unless the physician notifies the patient about the fee in advance (i.e., when the patient makes the request). The physician must also provide the patient with a breakdown of the fee, upon request. In fact, HHS recommends the physician make its normal charges for copies available to the public on its website or by other means.

Discussion

The new ALBME rules include some limitations not before instituted in previous rules. It is important to note the limitations discussed in this article only apply to a request made by the patient.7 So, for example, if a patient needs to provide copies of his medical record to an attorney, a physician may be permitted to charge a different (read: greater) fee if the attorney makes the request (by subpoena, for example), as opposed to the patient requesting the physician transfer the records to the attorney.

The new rules also include provisions intended to bring the Alabama rules into compliance with applicable provisions of the federal HIPAA rules.8 While the new rules provide needed clarity as to certain matters, questions remain. Likewise, HIPAA imposes certain additional limitations on permissible charges that must be taken into account, even though they are not mentioned in the ALBME rules.

In any event, the fact is, as in most legal and regulatory matters, the answer to the seemingly simple question, “What can I charge to make a copy of the patient’s record?” is it depends on a number of factors. In addition, federal and State of Alabama authorities have made it clear they intend to target physicians who charge excessive fees in future enforcement actions. Consequently, it is vital physicians have a proper understanding of the issues addressed above and promptly take appropriate action to comply.

Nothing in this article should be considered legal advice. In the event you need legal advice in respect to the matters above, or other matters, please contact appropriate legal counsel.

Article contributed by D. Brent Wills, Esq., and Mazie Bryant1 of Gilpin Givhan, PC. Gilpin Givhan, PC, is an official partner with the Medical Association.

References
1 Ms. Bryant is a Juris Doctor candidate at the University of Alabama School of Law.

2 See Ala. Admin. Code § 540-x-9-.10(2).

3 Note Section 12-21-6.1 of the Alabama Code still permits a $5.00 “search fee” to be charged. HIPAA explicitly pre-empts Alabama law on this issue. It is not clear whether or when the Alabama Legislature will update the statute.

4 Although HIPAA does not specify a per-page fee that constitutes a reasonable, cost-based fee, there is no indication that the (maximum) per-page fees specified in the new ALBME rules would not pass muster.

5 See Ala. Admin. Code § 540-x-9-.10(2).

6 Ala. Admin. Code 540-X-9.10(2).

7 Note HIPAA treats a request by the patient’s personal representative (as defined in the Privacy Rule) as a request made by the patient.

8 “HIPAA” means, in this context, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, together the privacy, security and breach notification rules promulgated thereunder, as set forth at 42 CFR Part 160 and Part 164, as modified by the Health Information and Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (“HITECH”).

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Do You Record Patient Phone Calls? Here’s What You Need to Know.

Do You Record Patient Phone Calls? Here’s What You Need to Know.

A physician practice recently inquired about implementing a policy pursuant to which the practice would begin recording phone calls to and from patients and referring providers. The practice of recording phone calls is not uncommon. For example, every time you call a customer service number you are informed that the call “may be recorded for quality purposes.” However, there are some legal issues to consider before implementing a policy pursuant to which you record phone calls with patients.

First, from a HIPAA perspective, any entity you contract with to record the calls with patients and to store the recordings will need to sign a Business Associate Agreement, in which such entity agrees to protect the patient information it receives. Failing to obtain a Business Associate Agreement in this instance would be a violation of HIPAA.

Second, there is the question of whether you need to inform the patient the call is being recorded. Alabama is considered a “one-party consent” state, meaning you only need the consent of one party in order to record a call — and that one party can be the party making the recording. Thus, as long as the physician practice is aware of the recording, a patient located in Alabama does not have to be informed the call is being recorded. However, things get more tricky when you are making and/or receiving calls from patients located outside of Alabama.

Other states (including the neighboring state of Florida) are “two-party consent” states, meaning you need the consent of both parties in order to make the recording. If a call is made from a physician practice in Alabama, a “one-party consent” state, to a patient located in Florida, a “two-party consent” state, the general legal consensus is that the physician practice must comply with the more stringent “two-party consent” requirements. Thus, under this scenario, a disclosure would need to be made to the patient located in Florida that the call is being recorded.

Finally, the issue of malpractice liability should be considered. While a phone recording can be helpful in the event of a negative outcome (to prove what information was provided to the patient), it, just like any other documentation, can also be harmful (to prove what information was not provided to the patient). Thus, physician practices considering recording more than routine scheduling calls need to give some thought as to whether such recordings will be helpful or harmful if an issue were to arise. Practices may also want to reach out to their malpractice carriers to see if they have any opinion or policy regarding recording phone calls with patients.

Kelli Fleming is a partner with Burr & Forman LLP practicing in the firm’s Health Care Industry Group. Burr & Forman LLP is a partner with the Medical Association.

Posted in: HIPAA

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STUDY: Independent Practice Declines Due Partially to EHRs

STUDY: Independent Practice Declines Due Partially to EHRs

A new study conducted by the Trump Administration suggests electronic health records are currently failing at reducing the cost of billing for medical facilities, especially for independent practices.

“Small physicians’ groups and solo providers could not afford to purchase and maintain electronic medical records and comply with government reporting requirements,” the White House report stated. “As a result, hospital mergers are booming, leading to horizontal integration, and large hospitals are buying up physicians’ practices and outpatient service providers to form large, vertically integrated health care networks.”

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that billing costs consumed significant chunks of revenue even at a large academic center with a fully implemented EHR system. They represented about 14.5 percent of costs of primary care visits and 13.4 percent of costs for ambulatory surgical procedures. “These findings suggest that significant investments in certified health information technology have not reduced high billing costs in the United States,” the authors state in the report.

Independent physicians have also commented on the burdens of the EHR system. Three out of four physicians believe electronic health records (EHRs) increase practice costs, outweighing any efficiency savings, and seven out of 10 think EHRs reduce their productivity, according to a Deloitte’s recent 2016 Survey of U.S. Physicians.

The results of the survey also indicate physician satisfaction with EHRs varies by practice characteristics. About 70 percent of employed physicians are more likely to think that EHRs support the exchange of clinical information and help improve clinical outcomes compared to 50 percent of independent physicians. The results also revealed 72 percent of independent physicians are more likely to think that EHRs reduce productivity compared to 57 percent of employed physicians. Additionally, 80 percent of independent physicians think that EHRs increase practice costs, compared to 63 percent of employed physicians.

The federal government has financial interests in making it easier for physicians to cope with EHR requirements, according to President Trump’s 2018 Economic Report. As part of its 2018 economic report, released Feb. 21, the White House drew a direct connection between physicians’ struggles to purchase and operate EHR systems and the increase in consolidation among hospitals.

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CMS Updates Open Payments Data

CMS Updates Open Payments Data

On January 17, CMS updated the Open Payments dataset to reflect changes to the data that took place since the last publication on June 30, 2017. CMS updates the Open Payments data at least once annually to include updates from disputes and other data corrections made since the initial publication of the data.

The refreshed Open Payments Data Set includes:

  • Record Updates: Changes to non-disputed records that were made on or before Nov. 15, 2017, are published.
  • Disputed Records: Dispute resolutions completed on or before Dec. 31, 2017, are displayed with the updated information. Records with active disputes that remained unresolved as of Dec. 31, 2017, are displayed as disputed.
  • Record Deletions: Records deleted before Dec. 31, 2017, were removed from the Open Payments database. Records deleted after Dec. 31, 2017, remained in the database but will be removed during the next data publication in June 2018.

For More Information:

Improved Open Payments Data Website

The Open Payments Data website is enhanced to increase user accessibility, improve user experience, and provide a more robust search tool. Enhancements include:

  • Overall site redesign: The home page is reformatted with a new look and layout, featuring an updated search bar that allows users to search by physician name, teaching hospital, and reporting entity. The new layout is designed to better organize existing site content and highlight new content.
  • Fully mobile responsive site: Allows users to view the site in full on smartphones and tablets.
  • Redesigned Facts About Open Payments webpage: Includes upgraded table format displays.

Map Search Feature: Allows users to view search results via a new map feature. Users may also search by address and limit search results based on distance/radius of the specified location.

Posted in: CMS

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Physicians Spend More Than Half of Work Day on Electronic Health Records

Physicians Spend More Than Half of Work Day on Electronic Health Records

Primary-care physicians spend more than half of their workday on electronic health records during and after clinic hours, a University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and American Medical Association study has found. The study, published online in the Annals of Family Medicine, shows physicians spent 5.9 hours of an 11.4 hour work day on electronic health records.

“While physician burnout happens for a number of reasons, spending a good deal of the work day and beyond on electronic health records is one of the things that leads to burnout,” said Dr. Brian Arndt, associate professor of family medicine and community health.

Arndt said 142 family-medicine physicians in the UW Health system were part of the study and all EHR interactions were tracked over a three-year period from 2013 to 2016 for both direct patient care and non-face-to-face activities.

He found that clinicians spent 4.5 hours during clinic each day on electronic health records. Another 1.4 hours before or after clinic were used for electronic health records documentation for a total of 5.9 hours each day.

That means that primary-care physicians spent nearly two hours on electronic health records per hour of direct patient care.

“When you factor in the non-electronic health records duties, it adds up to a workday of 11.4 hours, representing a significant intrusion on physicians’ personal and family lives,” said Arndt.

Order entry, billing and coding, and system security accounted for nearly half of the total electronic health records time (2.6 hours). Clerical duties like medication refills, interpretation of lab and imaging results, letters to patients, responding by e-mail to questions about medications and incoming and outgoing phone calls accounted for another 1.4 hours of every work day.

“It is imperative to find ways to reduce documentation burden on physicians,” said Arndt. “There are a couple of things to consider. Having clinical staff enter verbal or handwritten notes (based on a standardized checklist) could save time and allow physicians to focus more on the patient. In addition, documentation support by staff and additional training in documentation optimization should be available for interested physicians.”

Arndt said the electronic health records event logs used in the study can identify areas of electronic health records-related work that could be delegated to reduce workload, improve professional satisfaction and reduce burnout.

UW Health Chief Medical Information Officer and Senior Vice President Dr. Shannon Dean said the health system leadership supports and appreciates the work of Dr. Arndt and his colleagues in identifying areas of concern and supports reducing any undue burdens on physicians by proactively looking for ways to make the electronic health records system more efficient and distributing appropriate work amongst the clinical care team. Electronic health records systems do offer major benefits to patient care, so preserving their value is also a key goal.

Dean said initiatives include the recent deployment of single sign-on technology that addresses the time spent simply logging in and out of the system and the rollout of advanced voice-recognition software to allow providers to “dictate” directly into the system rather than type.

“UW Health acknowledges that the electronic health records and increased documentation requirements are contributing factors to physician burnout and has invested significant resources in education, optimization and support teams to ensure providers have ‘at the elbow’ support for doing their work,” said Dean. “Our support teams are currently meeting one-on-one with every provider to review their use of the electronic health records and provide them with tips and tricks to improve efficiency.”

Posted in: Management

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Before You Lock the Door and Turn Out the Lights . . .

Before You Lock the Door and Turn Out the Lights . . .

Necessary Steps When Closing a Physician Practice

The Gilberto Sanchez Story [1]

Shortly after a group of DEA agents and other law enforcement personnel sporting tactical gear arrived in the parking lot with search and arrest warrants on a Tuesday early in August, Dr. Gilberto Sanchez was hauled away from his medical practice in the 4100 block of Atlanta Highway in Montgomery, Ala. Dr. Sanchez had been indicted for operating a medical clinic that dispensed controlled substances inappropriately, unlawfully, and for non-medical reasons. Since his arrest, Sanchez has pled not guilty and been released on bond.

The unfortunate saga of Dr. Sanchez highlights a difficult issue for both physicians and patients — who takes care of a physician’s patients when his or her practice closes shop, whether voluntarily or otherwise? Montgomery news sources reported on a patient of Dr. Sanchez who encountered this exact struggle. After Sanchez was arrested, the patient and his wife (also a patient of Sanchez) began the arduous search for another physician. They also encountered trouble getting their medical records from Sanchez’s office, reporting that they received no answers beyond a voicemail box too full to receive additional messages.

Dr. Sanchez’s story is unique in many regards, but it highlights the need for an effective transition plan upon the closing of a physician practice. Doctors sell practices, retire, die, seek the protection of the United States bankruptcy laws, and generally quit practicing medicine all the time. Whether you’re packing up to hit the links or being packed up and hauled to jail like Dr. Sanchez (let’s hope it’s not the latter), here are a few things to think about in order to wind up your practice’s affairs in accordance with applicable legal and ethical considerations.

A Few Things Before You Leave

A number of factors come into play when you decide to close your practice. Below we consider legal and ethical requirements regarding continuity of patient care and access to records from the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners (“BME”) and the American Medical Association (“AMA”), notification requirements for various government and third-party payors, and miscellaneous corporate formalities that must be undertaken when dissolving a business.

Board of Medical Examiners Requirements and AMA Ethical Considerations

Perhaps the most important part of closing down your practice (maybe for you, but certainly for your patients) is making sure that your patients have adequate notice and opportunity to find a new doctor, as well as access to their medical records. These notice and access considerations are addressed on the state level by the BME in accordance with ethical opinions issued by the AMA.

Consider the following items when closing your practice. Take note of whether each is a suggested best practice or a mandatory requirement.[2]

  1. Notify the BME. You need to advise the BME of any change in your status (closing practice, retiring, etc.) and of your new address, if applicable, and you are required to notify the Medical Licensure Commission within 15 days of a change in your address.[3] You may also submit a request for the removal and disposal of unused medications, especially controlled substances.
  2. Notify Your Patients. To ensure continuity of care for your patients, they have to receive a reasonable notification that your practice is closing and an opportunity to arrange for the transfer of their medical records.[4] The BME recommends that (i) each active patient of the practice receive a direct mail notification of the practice’s closing at their last known address and that (ii) the practice issue a public advertisement (e.g. in the local newspaper) about the closing of the practice to notify the public more generally. All notices (public or direct notice to active patients) should indicate the expected date the practice will close, and the direct notice to active patients should specifically identify instructions for how patients can access or transfer their medical records, and, if the medical practice is being assumed by another physician or practice, the name, address, and telephone number of that physician or practice.[5]
  3. Notify the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”). Notify the DEA of the closing of your practice. This notification can be especially important as you plan for the appropriate disposition of unused medications, including controlled substances.
  4. Post a Written Notice at the Practice. After you actually close your practice, you should consider posting a written notice of its closing on the door or other visible areas of the office/building where your practice is located. The notice should contain instructions for patients to transfer or obtain copies of their medical records, as well as the current location of such records. These instructions must be made available to leasing agents, new tenants, or new owners of the building where the practice is located.
  5. Records Management. As mentioned briefly in the description of notices above, you have to maintain and provide access to patient medical records for a period of time after you close your practice. The BME generally recommends maintaining such records for a period of 10 years after your practice closes. However, some types of medical records (e.g., pediatric records and immunization records) may have different retention requirements, and records associated with anticipated litigation should be kept until the litigation is resolved, even if such resolution does not occur until after the regular record retention period. In addition, BME regulations and AMA ethics opinions require that you make records available to a patient’s succeeding physician, to third parties as requested by your patients or their authorized representatives, and as otherwise required by law.[6]

These record maintenance practices serve multiple purposes: (i) you can satisfy your ethical obligation to provide access to medical records for your patients so they can obtain copies or transfer copies of their medical records to their new physician; and (ii) you fulfill applicable recordkeeping requirements for government and other third party payors in the event of an audit.

  1. Provide Access to Patient Records.  Your patients have a right to access their medical records, or at least a copy of them. This right extends to any person who has a properly executed authorization from the patient to access such records.[7] According to state law and regulations, when providing copies of patient records, you may charge up to $1.00 per page for the first 25 pages, up to $.50 for each page after that, and up to $5.00 as a search fee.[8] The costs of mailing the medical records to the requestor or their designee may also be included in the copying charges. However, state regulations (and in some cases HIPAA) require physicians to consider the needs of their patients and waive the fees where appropriate.[9]

Notify Government and Third Party Payors

There are several parties in addition to your patients who want to know if you close your practice. Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers will want to know when you close your practice in order to terminate your provider agreement. There are likely requirements in your provider agreement with each payor regarding what you should do when closing your practice. However, generally you need to take the following steps for each payor below:

  1. Medicare. File a form 855B within 30 days of a change of ownership or practice location and within 90 days of other changes in enrollment, as required by 42 CFR § 424.516.
  2. Medicaid. There are no general requirements for closing a physician practice in the Medicaid Administrative Code or the Medicaid Provider Billing Manual. However, providers should notify HPE/DXC (Medicaid’s fiscal agent) on the provider disenrollment form.[10]
  3. Private Insurers. Frequently, insurance payors require notices prior to termination. For private insurers, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, check your provider agreement for the applicable notice requirements, if any.

The “Business” Side of Things

As if the steps listed above were not enough, you still have to think about what you want to do with the business entity from which you operated your practice. Unless you sold your practice, your name is probably still in a partnership, limited liability company, or professional corporation somewhere. To fully dissolve the business entity that formed your practice, you have to file articles of dissolution (or their comparable form for other types of business entities).[11] Be sure to file a copy of the articles of dissolution (or their comparable form) with the BME within 30 days of the effective date of dissolution.[12] In addition, you may be required to file notices with applicable federal and state taxing authorities, local governmental entities, and other agencies, as well as known creditors.

In addition to the above, there are several other nuances that must be explored when dissolving your practice. These nuances can be different based on the type of entity you chose to form your practice and may very well be different between two practices formed of the same type of entity. Consult counsel to look at the relevant provisions in the applicable statutes and the governing documents for your practice.

Lights Out, Lock the Door

As you can see, closing a physician practice is not as simple as turning off the lights and locking the door when you leave. There are a number of legal, ethical, and practical considerations you have to be aware of as you close or transition away from your practice. It may seem like a daunting task at first, but it has to be done in order to provide continuity of care for your patients and to provide for the orderly winding down of your practice’s affairs. To accomplish these objectives, be sure to plan ahead, consult counsel in the planning and implementation process, and don’t leave any stone unturned. It could be the one that trips you up unexpectedly.

For additional inquiries regarding this article or the steps to close a medical practice, please contact Christopher Richard or Gregg Everett at:

Christopher Richard, Esquire
Gilpin Givhan, PC
P.O. Drawer 4540 (36103-4540)
2660 EastChase Lane, Suite 300
Montgomery, Alabama  36117
Telephone: (334) 244-1111
Direct Dial: (334) 409-2233
Fax: (334) 244-1969
E-mail: crichard@GilpinGivhan.com

 

Gregg B. Everett, Esquire
Gilpin Givhan, PC
Lakeview Center, Suite 300
2660 EastChase Lane
Montgomery, Alabama  36117
Telephone: (334) 244-1111
Direct Dial: (334) 409-2228
Fax: (334) 244-1969
E-mail: geverett@GilpinGivhan.com

Article contributed by Christopher Richard, an attorney at Gilpin Givhan. Gilpin Givan is a Bronze Partner with the Medical Association.

 

REFERENCES

[1] Jennifer Horton, Alleged AL pill mill doc’s patients lined walls, sat on floor, U.S. attorney says, WSFA12 News (August 1, 2017), http://www.wsfa.com/story/36021670/alleged-al-pill-mill-docs-patients-lined-walls-sat-on-floor-us-attorney-says; Samantha Day, Patient of alleged Montgomery pill mill doctor speaks out, WSFA12 News (August 4, 2017), http://www.wsfa.com/story/36066718/patient-of-alleged-pill-mill-doctor-speaks-out.

[2] These action items come from a publication by the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners, available on the BME website. Recommended Procedure in Closing/Discontinuing a Medical Practice, Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners, available at http://www.albme.org/closeprac.html (last visited September 5, 2017).

[3] Ala. Code § 32-24-338 (1975).

[4] Ala. Admin. Code r. 540-X-9-.10(3). See also AMA Code of Medical Ethics, Opinion 1.1.3: Patient Rights (stating the patient’s right to continuity of care, as well as sufficient notice and reasonable assistance in making alternative arrangements for care prior to a physician discontinuing care); AMA Code of Medical Ethics, Opinion 1.1.5: Terminating a Patient-Physician Relationship (requiring physicians to notify the patient or an authorized decision maker sufficiently in advance to permit the patient to secure another physician and to facilitate transfer of care where appropriate).

[5] Ala. Admin. Code r. 540-X-9-.10(3); AMA Code of Medical Ethics, Opinion 3.3.1: Management of Medical Records.

[6] Id. With regard to disclosure as required by law, check the record management requirements in your provider agreements with Medicare, Medicaid, and private third party payors, as applicable, to confirm the minimum length of time you should preserve records and make them available for inspection. However, in most cases, the 10 years recommended by the BME should suffice.

[7] See Ala. Admin. Code r. 540-X-9-.10(2); Ala. Admin. Code r. 545-X-4-.06 (including in the definition of “unprofessional conduct” any refusal to comply, within a reasonable time, with a request from another physician for medical records or information when such request is accompanied by a properly executed authorization from the patient).

[8] Ala. Code § 12-21-6.1 (1975); Ala. Admin. Code r. 540-X-9-.10(2).

[9] Ala. Admin. Code r. 540-X-9-.10(2); AMA Code of Medical Ethics, Opinion 3.3.1: Management of Medical Records(d)-(e).

[10] http://medicaid.alabama.gov/content/9.0_Resources/9.4_Forms_Library/9.4.16_Provider_Enrollment_Forms.aspx. The form contains additional instructions regarding the disenrollment process.

[11] As a practical matter, your business will be “dissolved” once the articles of dissolution are approved, but the entity will continue to exist for a period of time for purposes of winding down its affairs by paying off creditors and distributing remaining assets to the owners, among other things.

[12] Ala. Admin. Code r. 540-X-9-.01(5).

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The Importance of Accurate Timekeeping

The Importance of Accurate Timekeeping

Accurate and up-to-date record keeping is one of the most crucial elements of a successful business – no matter what size. Chief among these types of record keeping is timekeeping – keeping track of the hours the members of your team bills to the company, as well as time off for vacations and sick leave.

Why is accurate timekeeping so critical? Here’s a look at some of the problems that can arise if it isn’t accurate:

  • Wasted time. If you don’t have a precise record of how much time your workforce is really investing, then there’s no way to judge your return on investment and resulting company profitability. You also prevent yourself from being able to identify processes that are inefficient (for example, accurate timekeeping can help you determine if there’s a particular task that takes your employees a long time to complete on a regular basis, and therefore could benefit from automation, additional training, and so on).
  • Wasted money. Small business owners especially need to spend their money wisely. Even if your timekeeping records are only off by a small amount, the resulting loss in profitability can really mount over time – and you may end up spending even more money trying to correct mistakes.
  • Tax compliance issues. As we’ve discussed before, tax compliance is not a nice-to-have. It’s a necessity. Accurate timekeeping ensures accurate tax filing for each of your employees.
  • Employee (and employer) quality of life. Your employees want to be compensated appropriately for the time they spend on the job. And you want to make sure that you’re protected against time theft, human errors, and other potentially big problems. By ensuring that both issues are being addressed efficiently and professionally, you make everyone’s work-life a lot more enjoyable.

*Editor’s Note: Apex Payroll is a partner with the Medical Association. To receive up to 20% off your payroll fees, and to discover other Apex Payroll services, click here.

Posted in: MVP

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