If you are in the healthcare industry, records are a fundamental part of your business. Documenting a patient's medical history is vital, and you may have information dating back decades. Building a records retention policy can feel overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Here are a few tips on how to develop effective medical record retention policies.
First, start with understanding the regulations for your industry, which vary by state. These regulations define how long you need to retain patient records. For example, the rules define if there are different requirements for minor and adult patients, the requirements for a medical doctor versus a hospital, and how long to retain documents after a patient's death. Use resources such as HealthIT.gov to learn about your state's specific requirements.
Next, you should set a standard to define which files are considered active vs. inactive. The active files will be those you regularly use, such as with patients who make routine visits. For those patients who have not sought treatment in several years, you may label their files as inactive. These files will require less frequent access. The American Health Information Management Association has recommendations to help you make this determination.
Once you have determined which files you need to access frequently, develop an organization system to keep these active files handy. An alphabetical organization system of file cabinets for these active files is simple to implement. But your inactive files will require more work. Consider if you want to scan and index these files or store them offsite. Investigate the assistance of a documentation management firm like R4 Services that can consult with you and determine the most efficient solution for your needs.
Once an inactive file has passed its requirements for access, you don't need to continue to hang onto it. Instead, develop a plan to review your inactive files routinely, and flag those that no longer need to be retained. Determine a method for destroying electronic and paper files to ensure the private information is secure and you adhere to HIPAA standards.
Lastly, properly training your staff on retention procedures is essential to your policy’s success. Ensure that your retention policy is adequately covered in your employee handbook and whenever you onboard new employees. Additionally, consider running periodic training sessions to keep your staff updated on best practices and make them aware of any changes to your retention policy.
Developing a comprehensive records retention policy isn’t just about keeping you and your staff better organized; it’s also necessary to stay compliant with the law. At R4 Services, we’ll work with your healthcare organization to help you meet compliance requirements and optimize your records management process. Contact us today to get started.
It seems as though every week, we hear about new security breaches. Whether it be an email server, a restaurant, or a larger institution, no one is safe from hackers until it’s too late. No matter the industry or the number of employees within the firm, increasing security is necessary for all businesses. Whether you are planning for future protection or are implementing a plan because of a breach, security and efficiency go hand-in-hand when protecting your business. Below are three ways to create an information security plan and ensure that your business runs efficiently.
1. Use Strong Passwords
The first step in protecting your information is creating strong passwords that are changed often and unique to each platform. Having the same password for every device and login makes you susceptible to hackers because they can access any account they choose once they have your password.
Don't share your passwords with anyone or leave notes around the office with passwords written on them. Doing so only makes it easier for your passwords to fall into the wrong hands. Instead, consider investing in password management software for both business and personal use. Password managers will securely store your passwords and help you create unique and strong passwords that you won’t have to worry about remembering yourself.
2. Protect Sensitive Data with Vault Storage
All businesses have paper. No matter how environmentally friendly organizations try to become, some documents must always be accessible. Storing documents either onsite or offsite should be secure, and only those authorized should have access to them. Protecting classified information, whether it is having a filing cabinet or a document cage, will protect your business and ensure documents are up-to-date and in order.
R4 Service’s document management and vault storage offerings can help protect your business’s critical data and sensitive information. Our state-of-the-art storage facilities have centrally monitored security and surveillance systems to give you peace of mind knowing your important documents, computers, hard drives, and other data are in safe hands.
3. Destroy Old Documents
One of the simplest ways to protect from a breach is to destroy any documents that are not needed. Having an onsite shred location guarantees information will not fall into the wrong hands and is an easy way to implement a recycling program in your office!
If you have large shredding jobs or just need some additional assistance, R4’s shredding services can help. Our shred trucks service the greater Chicagoland area and are equipped to handle any job, big or small, right from your parking lot. Our facility also offers shredding and hard drive destruction services so you can quickly and safely dispose of old sensitive data.
R4 Serivces Is Here to Help Improve Your Business’s Security
Every company should take steps to strengthen its information security. By taking the necessary steps to avoid security breaches, you will decrease the risk of identity theft and hacks and improve your workplace's efficiency.
Ready to strengthen your business’s security? Contact R4 Services today.
“One day I may need this.” We have all had that thought cross our minds as we sift through bank statements, letters, and other important documentation deciding what should stay and what should go. But what is worth saving and what is better off in the shredder? The answer largely depends on the type of document and the amount of time that’s passed since the document was issued. Check out our tips for work and home to keep you organized and safe from identity theft.
Shredding Documents at Home
Tax audits and receipts, home sale, purchase, lease, or improvement documentation should be shredded after 6-7 years. Pay stubs, bank statements, medical bills, and records can be shredded after one year. Everything else, go ahead and shred. To keep your identity safe and secure, shred anything with your name, phone number, address on it, social security number, or banking information on it.
Shredding Documents at Work
It’s important for the safety of your business and your employees that you shred employee application forms, ID badges, and records when they leave the business, financial information, branded, damaged or faulty goods, as well as supplier records or information. Some paperwork is best kept for a few years before shredding such as budgets and purchase orders. Use your best judgment.
What Documents Should You Save?
Any physical copies of anything related to state or federal matters, including certifications, licenses, or deeds should be saved indefinitely. These are important forms of identification that are typically only valid in their original form and can be a lengthy process to replace.
Keeping any proof of warranty for the duration you own the warranted product is essential to ensure you receive proper service if the product breaks or malfunctions. A good rule of thumb is to keep anything that would be a hassle to replace causing you to sit on the phone with customer service for hours or go to a government office.
The same rules apply to work documents as personal documents. If the document is going to be hard to replace, keep it in a safe spot. There are a few extra documents you want to keep an eye out for like union agreements, procedure records, training manuals, bylaws, insurance records, accident reports, claims, legal and important correspondence, copyrights and trademarks, articles or incorporation, and actuarial reports.
Contact R4 for Additional Document Management and Shredding Services!
If you need any additional help with document management or shredding your old documents, contact us today! We can store your company’s important documents and provide you access to them whenever you need via the internet. We can also deliver your documents directly to your office or send them via fax, scan, and email. If you have documents you want to permanently dispose of, our convenient shred trucks serve the greater Chicagoland area and will drive right to your business.
We all know what it feels like to not have access to the information you need when you need it. When you need certain documents at a specific time, you should have instant access to them. If your business still relies primarily on physical documents, you likely won’t have access to all your documents whenever you need them. That’s why it’s important to invest in a cloud document management system that provides complete records management quickly and efficiently via the web. Let’s take a closer look at what a cloud document management system is and how it can help your business.
What is a Cloud Document Management System?
A cloud document management (CDM) system is a web-based service that stores and manages all your important documents and information. To put it simply, CDM allows you to store files and company documents and access them at any time from anywhere in the world.
Having that kind of accessibility is a significant benefit to any business, but let’s look at four other specific ways CDM can help your business.
Cloud Document Management Saves Your Business Money
If your business is still heavily reliant on physical documentation and storage, you’re likely incurring several regular expenses that could be greatly reduced by switching to CDM. On-premise storage like cabinets and desks can be costly and take up a lot of space in your office. Additionally, printers, copiers, and fax machines can be significant investments, especially when considering the cost of inks, toners, and paper needed to operate each device.
By using a CDM system, your business can substantially cut back on such costs. Things like filing cabinets, printers, and copy machines can all have pricey upfront costs that need to be paid in full regardless of how much they’re being used in addition to the cost of regular maintenance and supply needs. With a CDM system, you’ll be charged a flat monthly or annual rate that you can easily upscale or downscale as your company’s needs change.
Cloud Document Management Makes Collaboration Easier
As already mentioned, CDM allows you to access your files and documents at any time from anywhere. Moreover, everyone in your organization will also have access to company documents as well. This is particularly important as more people have started working remotely. A CDM system ensures that every employee has access to the documents they need whether they work in the office or work remotely.
A CDM system also makes collaborating on projects much easier than using physical documents. A CDM allows team members to simultaneously work on projects together regardless of where they are. This is especially useful if your team is working on a proposal or a report that requires insights from multiple team members or if you ever need to make revisions to a coworker’s project.
Cloud Document Management is Secure
We all know the saying “accidents happen” and businesses are prone to any number of accidents happening in the workplace. Important documents can get lost or damaged with no way to recover them. Office spaces are susceptible to damage from natural disasters and fires and water damage can ruin any on-site documents. This can be especially devastating if your business doesn’t have a disaster recovery plan in place.
By storing your documents in the cloud, you can rest easy knowing that your important information is protected and immune from any natural disasters. Cloud storage offers multiple layers of security and comes with backup and recovery options to give you extra peace of mind.
Cloud Document Management Reduces Clutter
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of CDM is that it doesn’t take up any space in your office. Anyone that’s worked in an office before knows how quickly files and documents can start piling up around them. With CDM, cluttered workspaces can be a thing of the past as all of your documents are stored in the cloud and can be easily accessed within seconds.
Looking to cut down on clutter at your office? Check out our document shredding services! We can send a shred truck to your business to help you get rid of outdated documents and free up space in your office.
Cloud Document Management with R4 Services
No matter what industry you’re in, CDM can help you in all the ways discussed and more. R4 Service’s web access software can enhance the management of your organization's records stored offsite. For a complete demonstration, contact an R4 representative today!
As tax season ramps up, your business will have an additional task to manage. Along with taxes come many challenges, but successful filing is crucial to your business’ success and compliance. To assist with handling the many complexities of tax season, many businesses turn to a document management service to assist with tax preparation.
A document management service might be initially used to assist your accounting department, but you’ll quickly see how its benefits are felt throughout your organization. Here, we’ll explore the top three reasons why a document management service is an absolute must for your business this tax season.
What is Document Control?
Document control is the practice of protecting your business’ documents and data, and maintaining standard operating procedures for filing, storing, accessing, distributing, and destroying them.
Document control is extremely similar to practices such as a document retention policy or document management services. Overall, document control standards and systems can save your business time and money while improving security and accessibility.
Let’s start with how document control can improve your business’ storage procedures.
Efficiency in Organization and Storage
As a document management system is implemented in your business, one of the most noticeable benefits that you’ll see each day is the improved organization and storage of documents. With all documents, financial statements, and audits being scanned into a document management system, it makes their retrieval exponentially easier, and much less time-consuming.
This means less time is wasted sifting through documents and files, and more time and attention can be devoted to accurately preparing your taxes.
A Document Management System Improves Security
In addition, scanning your relevant tax and company documents into a document management system allows for simplified access. Now you can easily control which employees have access to sensitive financial documents, and they’re always available, meaning remote accounting teams can function seamlessly during tax preparation.
While accessibility is easily improved through a document management system, your documents become much more safe and secure too. A document management system makes it easier to limit access and grant permissions than it is with physical documents.
Digital storage provides physical protection as well. Having tax forms and financial statements digitally preserved means you can count on them being there, even if your business’ physical location is damaged in a flood, fire, or other disaster.
Document Control Saves Your Business Money
Employing a document management service or beginning a document retention policy can save your business money. We’re talking lots of money too: the average data breach cost over $4 million in 2021.
There’s a lot at stake. Fortunately, document control processes like a document management service or a document retention policy can protect you against breaches, and losses in other areas too.
Finally, document controls provide peace of mind. Having confidence your financial and tax documents are accounted for and protected mitigates stress and keeps your business running smoothly.
R4 Services Can Help Your Business with Document Control
Efficiency and consistent organization are critical to the success of any accounting department. This tax season, take control of your documents by using a document management service. The ability to constantly retrieve and store files without being bogged down allows your accounting team and business to run at an efficient pace.
R4 Services is dedicated to handling all your business’ document management needs. We offer vault, scanning, indexing, document management, and destruction services that can help your business get through this tax season with ease.
To learn more about how R4 Services can help your business become more efficient, contact us today.
A new year means resolutions for you—and your business. Just as you might be resolving to eat better, exercise more, and save more money, you might be making similar goals for the health of your business too: saving time and money, enhancing your profitability, and improving your compliance.
But where do you start with goals like these? Well, document retention is actually a smart, simple place to begin. Document retention and destruction can improve your company’s efficiency, profitability, and regulatory compliance. Ready to learn how?
What is Document Retention?
Basically, document retention, or a document retention policy, is a standard operating procedure that helps your business process, retrieve, secure, and destroy the documents that help your business run.
A document retention policy can help your business achieve many beneficial goals:
Document destruction is an important part of a document retention policy
An important part of document retention actually has nothing to do with retaining documents at all. Document destruction is crucial to your document retention policies success, and in mitigating the legal risks your business could face.
So, to begin the year on the right foot, start by purging any documents that no longer serve a purpose and your business is no longer required to keep. As you purge old documents, make sure to pay attention to the following:
R4 Services Can Help Protect Your Business
Document destruction is an important part of any business’ document retention policy; it protects you from needless litigation, liability, keeps you in compliance with your industry’s regulations, and makes your business more efficient and profitable.
Lost or stolen data costs businesses over $48 billion each year. Don’t contribute to that number. With R4 Services document shredding services, we can help you destroy outdated, sensitive materials, on your site or remotely.
Don’t wait. Protect your business today. To learn more about how R4 Services can benefit your business, contact us today.
What is a Document Retention Policy?
A document retention policy is a series of standard operating procedures that guide your business' handling, storage, and destruction of documents. So, how does a document retention policy (DRP) help your business? Well there are three main ways it helps your business, which range from operational benefits to legal safety.
A document retention policy provides your business with increased profitability and efficiency, safeguards for litigation, and helps your business maintain regulatory compliance. Let's take a close look at how a document retention policy provides each of these benefits.
A Document Retention Policy Can Increase Profitability and Efficiency
The procedures developed in your DRP will reduce the time spent handling and storing each document. Additionally, it will reduce document bloat within your organization. A document retention policy will help you determine and monitor who should have access to which documents and help you find the right documents quickly.
A Document Retention Policy Provides Legal Safeguards to Your Business
If a customer owes your business money or a contractor has failed to fulfill their obligations to you, having the proper documentation will give your business legal recourse and the means to prove it.
Similarly, if you are involved with legal proceedings with another business, you could be held liable if you're unable to produce the necessary documents due to destruction or misplacement.
A document retention policy will provide your business with procedures for how to store and destroy documents in a way that supports your business legally. A DRP can help you know when to suspend document destruction in case important files are shredded.
A DRP Helps Your Business Maintain Regulatory Compliance
Depending on your industry, you may be required to keep certain documents for a set period of time. For example, many businesses in the health field, such as hospitals, may be required to store or destroy documents in accordance with EPA regulations or HIPAA guidelines. Financial companies will want to keep their tax documents safely preserved for at least six years for auditing purposes.
Overall, a document retention policy will help your business identify the documents that need to be retained to maintain compliance for your industry. A well-planned and executed DRP can take the guesswork out of locating files and protect your business from legal and regulatory vulnerabilities.
How to Create a Document Retention Schedule for Your Business
Clearly, having a document retention policy in place provides an array of benefits to your business. But how do you make one? Well, to execute a successful document retention policy for your business, there are five key steps you should follow: selecting a document manager, identifying pertinent documents, determining which should be stored, creating a file organization system, and implementing a document destruction plan. Let's take a closer look at each of them.
Select a Document Manager
The first step is to select a person within your business to serve as the administrator of the document retention policy. This should be the person who will become the most familiar with your document retention policy. They should have the authority to implement it, teach other employees to follow it, and provide answers in any situation the policy doesn't cover.
Crucially, this person should be able to stop the destruction of documents when necessary, and quickly retrieve critical business documents.
What Kinds of Documents or Records do you Have or Use?
Next, it's important that your business take a close look at what kinds of files and documents they need to store. Each business will have documents they need to keep track of, such as employee records, tax documents, various receipts, and much more.
On top of that, each industry will have specific documents that need storage, protection, or destruction. We won't belabor the countless types of records this could be, from financial institutions' accounting records to law firms' deposition transcripts, but the important part is identifying the key kinds of documents and records your business needs to store.
Which Documents are you Required to Keep?
When you've identified the documents that your retention policy should be focused on, it's time to determine which documents you need to store or destroy. You'll want to know how long you need to keep a document for liability and compliance reasons, as well as to know when it will become nothing more than a burden on your file organization system.
This is also a good time to think about how your business stores and organizes files. You'll want to consider the following: