Does HIPAA have more to offer than a long list of rules and regulations? If so, what? Marketing research has made it clear that the medical institutions that look at HIPAA as a guide to providing the best possible patient experience are the ones that will be the most successful both now and in the future. Getting to know how HIPAA makes it possible to create a patient experience that will engender long-term loyalty and that loyalty, in turn, will bring in new patients.
An in-depth look at the seven fundamental elements of HIPAA provides some fascinating insight into gaining patient trust. These elements include having clear, written rules governing policies, conduct and procedures, having someone in charge of ensuring that proper protocols are followed at all times, setting up effective, ongoing training programs for employees and responding promptly to offenses and then correcting them immediately. Naturally, successful medical practices put a priority on following these elements; however, the medical industry isn’t the only one that uses these guidelines. Starbucks, for instance, has written instructions in place that closely follow HIPAA’s general regulations. Other successful businesses across a wide range of industries also use the same guiding principles. These companies aren’t obligated to do so; however, they have found that following the basic compliance guidelines are in their best interest as adherence to these guidelines engenders customer loyalty.
Why are customers happy to work with companies that follow basic compliance rules? One reason is that customers know what to expect from the companies in question. They know they can count on the companies to deliver the promised goods and services. Furthermore, customers know that if a mistake is made, the company will rectify the issue in a fast, efficient manner. At the same time, the clear-cut rules and guidelines also benefit employees and management. They know what they are expected to do. They are given regular training to remain at the top of their chosen industry. There is also someone in charge to turn to when something goes wrong, and that person has the resources and tools needed to handle difficult customer service situations.
Loyalty and confidence are both in short supply among those who visit medical service providers. A recent survey found that 68% of all patients don’t believe that their healthcare providers adequately protect their medical records. What is more, 53% of patients think medical industry negligence is responsible for identity theft. HIPAA violations naturally play a significant role in giving patients the impression that they cannot trust medical organizations to protect their privacy. Unfortunately, many of these violations occur on social media outlets as medical service providers attempt to promote their services and respond to patient reviews or complaints. Alternatively, many medical facilities don’t pay attention to what the internet has to say about the facility and therefore frequently ignore patients reviews that could be quickly addressed within HIPAA’s privacy guidelines.
Data breaches are yet another common problem. These breaches tend to occur when medical facilities don’t use HIPAA IT services that offer full security, ongoing training, and other services to prevent cyber attacks. HIPAA guidelines make it clear that breaches involving a significant number of patient records must not only be reported to patients but also publicized via media outlets such as TV, newspapers, and magazines. The damage is almost impossible to undo as media outlets repeatedly discuss the data breach and the fallout from it for months on end. Patients, many of whom didn’t fully trust the medical facility in the first place, often leave in search of a new medical service provider.
However, a medical facility does not have to settle for minimal patient trust and loyalty. As was shown above, embracing HIPAA guidelines and following them to the letter not only enables a medical facility to avoid legal and PR problems but also engenders patient loyalty and trust. Loyal patients leave positive reviews online, boosting a medical facility’s standing on the internet. Recent estimates show that up to 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they would believe counsel from a friend, which means that positive reviews go a long way in establishing patient trust and driving loyalty. At the same time, a medical facility that follows HIPAA guidelines can even use negative reviews to showcase the practice in the best possible light by replying to these reviews in a general yet professional manner. Patients that view these reviews will see that private information is not revealed online while taking note of the fact that the healthcare provider is concerned about the welfare of those in its care.
HIPAA compliance is multi-faceted; however, it should never be looked at as a “necessary evil.” It can instead be the driving force that propels a medical facility for success. Following HIPAA guidelines as closely as possible will enable a medical facility to provide the best possible service to all its patients at all times. That is why many medical facilities work with Reliable IT Healthcare. The company not only offers HIPAA IT Support but also ongoing consulting, management and training services to enable any medical facility to optimize its services and reach is HIPAA-related goals.