Updated on May 13, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
The medical marijuana industry is booming, which means exciting growth potential for dispensaries throughout the country and a larger client base. To keep up with these rapid developments, dispensaries should take advantage of the convenience and security of the full-time Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system provided by MarijuanaDoctors.com.
Now more than ever, you and your customers need the peace of mind that a secure EMR provides. Like any controlled substance, medical marijuana requires a way to verify a patient’s status and make certain those who receive medical marijuana products are correctly identified. Using an EMR through MarijuanaDoctors.com provides a secure system of identifying patients.
As the medical marijuana industry continues to mature, the federal government has become increasingly more involved, enforcing stringent regulations on medical marijuana dispensaries. Even if you run a cash-only business, having a high-quality EMR in place will help you avoid potential problems down the road.
Protect Your Customers’ Protected Health Information With MarijuanaDoctors.com
Because of its mixed reputation, medical marijuana dispensaries must be diligent about keeping within the confines of federal law. To do this, you must rely heavily on an EMR that meets the government’s high standards. These systems contain protected health information or PHI, including:
Patient contact information, such as addresses and phone numbers
Medical record numbers
Driver’s license numbers
And other personal information used for verification
Patients trust dispensaries with this private information, and you must take care of their PHI to the best of your ability. Those who use medical marijuana have the same privacy rights as patients at other healthcare organizations. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) ensures this information remains protected.
The Importance of HIPAA-Compliant Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Medical marijuana dispensaries fall under the auspices of HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was put in place to protect sensitive patient data. When patients trust dispensaries with their private information during a customer transaction, you must ensure security measures are followed rigorously to safeguard this data.
HIPAA came into law in 1996. It defines all the policies and guidelines for maintaining the privacy of your customers’ PHI. HIPAA also establishes penalties for businesses that breach the security rules. HIPAA is the national standards for processing and monitoring all electronic healthcare transactions.
The HIPAA compliance rules for medicinal marijuana dispensaries are strikingly similar to those applied to any other medical service. In fact, under HIPAA, the treatment of medical cannabis is almost exactly the same as other prescription drugs or treatments. Dispensaries use computerized systems to process and verify PHI, which can pose certain risks, including security breaches.
HIPAA compliance is essential for any medical marijuana dispensary. From the way you store PHI data to how your employees handle this information, your business must abide by these regulations or else be subject to fines and even legal action if a security breach occurs.
For that reason, it’s important that your software services and Electronic Medical Record system are HIPAA-compliant.
Advantages of Using MarijuanaDoctors.com as Your Dispensary’s EMR
The bottom line is that your medical marijuana dispensary must ensure all health data obtained from your patients is secure, especially the information that is accessed electronically. To do this, you must have an EMR that complies with the privacy rules laid out by HIPAA. By partnering with MarijuanaDoctors.com, we provide you with software services to help you manage your business while also keeping your patients’ PHI completely secure.
Our data protection solutions recognize and protect patient info in all its forms, including miscellaneous data, emails, documents and other information stored electronically. We also provide you with the means of sharing this data securely to ensure the best possible patient care.
By using our EMR system, you’ll be able to:
Create and manage patient profiles
Keep track of your patient’s medical records electronically, including forms, consents and other pertinent documents
Keep track of patient appointments and automate reminders
Provide your staff with individualized logins and multiple levels of permissions
Manage multiple locations individually, including detailed statistics of each dispensary
When you choose to utilize our EMR software services, we provide you with a Business Associate Agreement, which verifies we are HIPAA-compliant.
Potential Issues of Not Being HIPAA-Compliant
Because the medical marijuana industry is in its early stages of development, dispensaries especially need to stay on top of keeping patient information secure and complying with all HIPAA regulations. Both you and your employees should keep in mind that breaches of privacy occur all too easily. Even large corporations such as HealthEquity have experienced compromised patient health information. Email services such as Gmail and Yahoo or messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook are not encrypted and can be easily hacked by malicious third parties.
The law requires medical marijuana dispensaries to keep all PHI confidential. From the moment a patient presents their medical marijuana ID or fills out a form at your dispensary, their health information is covered under HIPAA federal law. It cannot be released to anyone unless the patient has given written consent or a court subpoenas the data.
Working with MarijuanaDoctors.com to manage your EMR systems helps minimize the risk of breaches. The Department of Health & Human Services monitors HIPAA compliance. Audits regularly occur based on protocols enforced by the Office for Civil Rights, which means investigations into businesses violating security and privacy rules is a distinct risk unless HIPAA compliance is faithfully attended to.
Violating HIPAA security regulations is a serious crime that can include hefty fines and sanctions for the violator. Even information released accidentally violates HIPAA rules and will most likely result in a fine. These can range from $100 to $50,000 per violation. The maximum penalty is a whopping $1.5 million per year for each HIPAA violation.
These hefty sanctions make it all the more critical for MMJ dispensaries, employees and all of your associates to familiarize yourself fully with the HIPAA compliance requirements. By working with MarijuanaDoctors.com as your full-time EMR, our HIPAA-compliant system provides peace of mind as you keep track of your patient information.
In recent years, the emergence of HIPAA-related civil lawsuits has posed a significant liability risk to dispensaries. Medical marijuana is bound to incur even stronger regulations, making the adoption of more stringent HIPAA standards essential for your dispensary.
Find Out More About Using MarijuanaDoctors.com as Your EMR
The cannabis industry continues to thrive. That’s why it’s essential to ensure you don’t become complacent in areas that should have your full attention, like security and safety. There’s no time like the present to implement HIPAA-compliant security measures into your business practices to ensure the safety of the patients who frequent your dispensary.