- June 29, 2023
- Symphony Ragan, Content Specialist
During a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) audit, it is crucial that your paperwork and electronic signature practices comply with HIPAA and regulatory requirements. Many healthcare decision-makers find navigating this terrain challenging – but don’t worry, we’re here to help.
We’ve identified five key document pain points below that are common for those in healthcare to experience during an audit and how they can be improved or entirely avoided:
- Understanding Signing Legalities: Digital signatures are just as legal as wet ink signatures in the U.S. for most situations – but will CMS allow them during an audit? In short, yes – electronic signatures can be used to sign healthcare paperwork. But it’s important to remember that CMS and HIPAA laws have their own regulatory requirements; this is where familiarizing yourself with the specific industry laws and choosing a HIPAA-compliant electronic signature solution, like Foxit eSign, come in handy. This brings us to our next tip – selecting the right electronic signature solution.
- Choosing a Robust HIPAA-Compliant eSign Solution: It is important that you select a reliable and secure electronic signature solution, specifically one designed for the healthcare sector and that is HIPAA-compliant. Look for features such as advanced encryption, audit trails, and authentication methods to ensure the integrity and authenticity of signed documents. This will demonstrate your commitment to maintaining compliance during CMS audits.
- Getting Your Whole Team on Board: Establishing clear signature policies and procedures that govern the use of electronic signatures within your organization is important. Specify document types eligible for electronic signatures and establish guidelines for user authentication with your team. Tracking the establishment of these policies will additionally highlight your intentions and commitment to compliance during CMS audits. Additionally, if you select an eSigning solution, such as Foxit eSign, you can define and establish user permissions that will help guide everyone along the way.
- Clearly Demonstrating Audit Trails: With Medicare audits, it’s all about being able to clearly show a detailed record of each electronic signature transaction, including date, time, location, and user identification; this can be difficult to keep up with when you’re using traditional wet ink signatures because paperwork can easily become lost, misplaced, or in the wrong hands. When you digitize your documents into PDF form, you’ll find that ensuring that all your records show a clear audit trail quickly becomes easier. PDF editors, like Foxit PDF Editor, allow documents to easily be created, edited, signed, and then safely stored using your favorite cloud or local document storage – meaning when CMS arrives for your scheduled audit, you’ll be ready.
- Maintaining Strict Compliance with All Healthcare Documents: Hiring a compliance officer for your business can be a great investment. The role of a compliance officer can take a lot of the strain off you and your team because their key focus is maintaining training programs to educate your staff, keeping current with any law changes, and implementing compliance guidelines. Compliance officers will also typically be responsible for working with the auditor, ensuring a smooth and seamless process.
While the steps for HIPAA compliance and auditing preparation will vary from company to company, it can confidently be said that by implementing these five essential tips, the integrity of your audits will improve and remain more steadfast.
Bottom line – Stay proactive, stay compliant, and streamline your document workflows with the power of digital PDF documents and electronic signatures in the healthcare industry.