Health Information Management

How to respond to audit findings

HIM-HIPAA Insider, February 6, 2012

Truth be told, the real work for healthcare organizations may come after a HIPAA compliance audit team walks out the door. That's when organizations-from hospitals to health plans to physician practices-will need to address any compliance issues uncovered by the audit team.

Here are some tips on how you can respond to audit findings:

  • Be responsive. The audit team will prepare a draft final report for review by the organization, which will have an opportunity to develop and implement a corrective action plan (CAP).
  • Pay attention in that exit interview. At the end of the on-site visit, the audit team will conduct an exit interview with your key leaders. The audit team should communicate its findings and review the compliance issues that it discovered during its visit.
  • Involve your legal counsel. You want legal counsel-whether it's internal or external-involved in the audit process.
  • Don't wait until the draft report to begin preparing your response. Organizations have only 10 days to provide their response to the draft report. It is a small window of opportunity.
  • Be reasonable. Your CAP will spell out what you are going to do, but also how long it will take you. Can you fix the problem in six months, a year, 18 months? Be sure to include that estimate in your CAP.

Editor's note: This was adapted from a February 2012 article in the HCPro, Inc. 12-page newsletter, Briefings on HIPAA.

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