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Home > Document management and printing > Document imaging and scanning services > Document Scanning Aids Hipaa And Sox Compliance

Document Scanning Services Help Companies Adhere to HIPAA and SOX

Over the past two decades, government regulations have changed the ways in which American companies maintain information archives. In 1996, Congress enacted the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, otherwise known as HIPAA. HIPAA rules revolutionized procedures for handling and processing personal information within health care facilities, such as doctors offices and hospitals.

Later, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 redefined document retention policies at millions of businesses, especially within small to medium-sized companies that previously escaped significant government oversight. The dropping prices of document scanning services help companies maintain compliance with these two critical sets of regulations without busting budgets.

Document Imaging Brings Companies into Compliance

While HIPAA gives medical businesses specific guidance about how to handle patient records, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act introduced sweeping new requirements for American businesses. Depending on the size and nature of a business, companies may choose to develop complex document retention policies. Some companies even adopt universal recordkeeping systems that ensure all paper documents will archived along with digital communication, including e-mail, voicemail, and fax transmissions. Maintaining digital records is often easier than servicing a data warehouse, since hard drives can easily be replicated for off-site backup and stored in smaller, restricted access facilities.

Health care companies concerned about compliance with HIPAA regulations can contract with document scanning services that adhere to state and federal regulations through a variety of techniques:

  • Some document scanning services provide on-site teams, assuring that sensitive documents do not leave company property
  • Experienced document scanning companies can provide insured and bonded personnel, whose work carries an audit trail to protect against future accusations of records mismanagement
  • For companies that choose to maintain exclusively electronic health information records, specialized digital imaging services can facilitate guaranteed document destruction

Even companies outside the health care sector can benefit from the added security and attention to detail offered by medical document scanning services. This rigorous process can overwhelm inexperienced in-house staff, and simple mistakes can turn into prosecutable compliance issues.

Using Scanning Services to Revisit Company Archives

Because of significant concerns over long term document retention and preservation efforts, many companies have chosen to revisit past archiving projects. Some in-house archiving projects, many of which were started before the introduction of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, lack the metadata necessary to offer true auditing for e-discovery. By scanning documents again with todays technology or by appending additional information to already-scanned records, document scanning services can help company leaders guard against potential lawsuits or investigations. Effective document retention policies include:

  • Audit trails that show which company personnel or vendors accessed which documents at which times. These trails can prove or disclaim access in cases where customers or patients assert the unauthorized disclosure of personal information. Simply storing scanned documents on a consumer hard drive may not be sufficient to satisfy some e-discovery claims.
  • Document security features that prevent tampering, so companies can avoid suspicion of manipulating records during an investigation.
  • High quality digital imaging and encoding, especially when preserving paper documents not required to be held in a secure storage facility.

While the price of multifunction devices has dropped under $100, the expertise required to manage a large-scale digital imaging project is often worth the extra expense. Failing to implement an effective document retention program can cost companies time and money in the future.


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