For practices that are closing and doctors who’re retiring, a medical practice will need to elect a custodian of medical records to manage all healthcare information requests going forward. It is the medical practice’s obligation to have a medical records storage company or new medical group properly store and handle all future requests for medical records. Otherwise, there is the potential for a lawsuit. Custodians who agree to retain records can be either a person or a company.
At Desert River Solutions, we pride ourselves on delivering the best customer service we possibly can to both physicians and patients. Our goal is to help physicians and medical practices efficiently and easily meet their legal requirements for document retention – even when they’re ready to move on to other opportunities.
Follow these steps to ensure you are meeting all legal and privacy-related obligations while closing your practice efficiently and professionally.
Checklist for Closing Your Medical Practice in 2022
Medical Facility Staff
- Organize a meeting of all staff and inform them that you will be closing your medical practice. This should be done 60-90 days before the date of closure.
- Offer your staff the opportunity to receive bonuses by continuing to work until the closure date.
- If any staff members choose to decline the bonus offer and leave before the closure date, be prepared to hire temporary workers to fulfill their duties until then.
- Review state laws to determine how long your medical records must be stored after your practice closes.
- Arrange for safe extraction and storage of physical and electronic medical records with a Medical Records Custodian, such as Desert River Solutions.
- Discuss patient privacy with prospective Medical Records Custodians, and ensure that they have storage solutions that are secure and HIPAA-compliant.
- When choosing a Medical Records Custodian, select a company that makes it easy for patients to request records online. It’s best if the Medical Records Custodian creates a custom landing page for your patients on their website so patients know they’re in the right place.
- Notify patients that they will need to request records from your Medical Records Custodian after your practice has closed. Send out a notice via traditional mail, phone, and email, and add the information to your website so that it is visible to patients. If there is a cost involved with the medical records request, be sure to include that information.
- Notify your state medical board of the new location of your medical records.
- Create a closure notice with the date of the closure and your reason for closing your practice, and send it to all patients via traditional mail, phone, and email.
- Add information about the closure on your website, somewhere that is highly visible to patients.
- Once they have been notified, add a dated copy of the closure notification in each patient’s records.
- Post signage around your office to alert visitors of the practice closing and the date of closure.
- Do not accept any new patients once you have announced the closing date of your practice.
- Restrict non-emergency appointments whenever possible.
- Refer patients that require continuous follow-up or care to other providers.
Professional Associations & Agencies
- Notify your state medical board, licensing board, credential organizations, and any other professional associations or membership organizations of your closure.
Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
- Contact the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), inform them of the closure, and notify them about whether you will continue or surrender your DEA registration.
Health Insurance Companies
- Contact all contracted payers and notify them of the practice closure.
- Provide contracted payers with a forwarding address or other contact information to send payments that are not resolved before your practice has closed.
Hospitals & Ancillary Services
- Reach out to any hospitals that you have partnerships with, and inform them of the closure.
- Contact all ancillary service facilities that you refer your patients to, such as specialists or labs.
- Notify medical professionals outside of your practice that you work with or refer patients to of your closure.
- Contact all suppliers & vendors, including medical equipment suppliers, office supply vendors, collection agencies, laundry and housekeeping services, waste and hazardous material disposal services, newspaper or magazine publishers, and so on. Notify them of your closure, close your account with them, and request a final invoice.
- Contact your utility services providers, such as your Internet, energy, and water provider, and inform them of the last day you will need their services. Provide a forwarding address for any bills sent after the closure.
- Review and process your accounts receivable as much as possible, and collect money owed to you.
- Consider how you will handle accounts that need to be reconciled after your practice has closed. You may need to employ a collection agency or retain a staff member to handle these accounts.
- Review your insurance policy and the policies of your staff, i.e., health, life, liability, disability, etc. and either update the information or cancel the policies where applicable.
- You may also need to obtain tail coverage extended liability insurance, which provides coverage in the event that claims are reported after liability policies have expired.
Clinic Documents and Equipment
- Review state laws to determine how confidential personnel information should be stored, and contact the appropriate facilities to make document transfer and storage arrangements.
- Organize the disposal or storage of sensitive documents, such as financial records, educational pamphlets and brochures, etc.
- Make arrangements to sell or lease your medical equipment to another practice or hospital.
- Review and follow federal guidelines for disposing of prescription drugs and other medications.
- If you have unused samples, contact drug representatives to determine what to do with them.
- Destroy leftover prescription pads.
Points of Contact
- Prepare a voicemail message for calls that come in after the practice has closed.
- Consider using an answering service to temporarily field calls once the practice has closed.
- Contact the United States Postal Service and follow the steps to leave a forwarding address.
Why Choose Desert River Solutions For Electronic Medical Record Custodian
If you’re closing your practice, choosing Desert River Solutions to close your medical practice means you’ll be worry-free that your records are being migrated efficiently, stored securely, and promptly provided to patients requesting their health records. Contact us today to learn more about medical records custodian services.
Information in this article is provided as a guideline for closing your practice only and should not be considered legal or financial advice. To ensure that your practice is compliant with all laws, contact a lawyer and accountant to review the legal requirements for closing relevant to your practice.