According to a recent article published by the South Florida Business Journal, the most significant law for employers with regard to medical privacy is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), not the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Under the ADA, any employment-related documentation containing medical information must be maintained in separate, confidential files, completely independent from the general personnel files. This way those without a legitimate business need to see the medical information won’t be inadvertently shared.
Now you may ask yourself, what medical information falls under the ADA requirements? It is literally any information related to an employee’s medical condition. Some examples are:
- Pre-employment exam results
- Any information an employee discloses regarding medications or medical history
- Information obtained through a wellness program
- Medical information relating to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Occupational exposure records under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
Is there a big difference between electronically or traditionally managing these files?
If a company chooses to traditionally manage these files, let’s say in a filing cabinet or bankers boxes, the cabinet and boxes must be locked or kept in a locked room with appropriate limited access. Depending on the size of your company and where it’s located can be quite pricey. On Brickell Avenue in Miami rent can cost in excess of $53 per square foot. A typical office is somewhere around 186 sq. ft.
Now if you use the typical 42 in. lateral filing cabinet you can fit around 3- 4 in one room. If you do the math you are talking about spending $822 per month to simply store files when that same space can be used for an additional employee, social room to boost morale, or anything else that can help the bottom line.
Now what if you have multiple rooms used for this purpose? I know it may be nauseating to even think about.
Obviously the biggest perk of storing these files electronically is the fact that they would not take up actual physical space in the organization. Changing to a culture of electronic-only filing could reduce the office space allocated to filing storage from 14.5% to 5.9% — a 60% reduction. If reflected in overall office leasing and service costs, this would produce a savings of 8.6%.
Add to that the potential savings from eliminating lost productivity due to lost or misfiled documents. Adopting an efficient solution for storing, managing, and searching all available internal content could improve the productivity of professional staff by 30%. Additionally, when managing these files electronically you can easily see and change who has access to the files, for how long, and can even produce an audit trail in case the files ever end up where somewhere they shouldn’t.
If your company is currently storing employee medical files traditionally, and is looking to migrate to managing them electronically, HGi can help. Contact us for a complimentary evaluation.