Tag Archives: security

December 22, 2016

QuickBooks Online & HIPAA: What I’ve Learned (so far)

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Lately, I’ve noticed an uptick in clients from the health and wellness industry wanting to move to the cloud.  QuickBooks Online is such a GREAT fit for this industry, but there are some things you should know.

Per Intuit’s support community:

“Currently, QuickBooks Online (QBO) meets industry standards for online security, but is not compliant with the HIPAA standards for privacy. If you are a health care professional using QBO, it is not recommended that you enter in ‘individually identifiable health information.’…We don’t have any further information on this subject, and we’re not equipped to advise you. For more information on the subject, as well as to seek legal advisement regarding this issue, go to: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/.”1

…and that’s all they have to say ’bout that.

So, where does this leave medical offices that need to comply with HIPAA but want to leverage available technology?  My recommendation is always to keep your protected health information secured within your HIPAA-compliant medical billing software.  QBO can do invoicing, but it isn’t designed for medical billing.  Handling insurance invoices, cash payouts, deductibles, and co-pays are best left to your existing software.  Seek out other clinics within your industry and ask them what they use.  What do they like about it?  What would they change about it?  What’s the most cost-effective for you?

That being said, there is nothing preventing you from SUMMARIZING your revenue in QuickBooks Online by using sales summary receipts or invoices to record your revenue by service, insurance company, or event patient type.  As long as the information being entered is not “protected health information” you are in the clear.  The definition according to the US Department of Health & Human Services is

“…information, including demographic data that relates to:

  • the individuals past, present or future physical or mental health condition,
  • the provision of health care to the individual,
  • the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual,

and that identifies the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe it can be used to identify the individual.  Individually identifiable health information includes many common identifiers (e.g., name, address, birth date, Social Security Number).”2

So, though you may not be able to look up the precise amount of John Doe’s care to date in QuickBooks Online, you can still see how your clinic is performing by comparing month to month, year over year, etc.  You can check your gross margin by comparing your revenue received from a certain treatment vs. the expense associated with performing the treatment.  Tracking how much business is coming in from insurance companies vs. how much comes in from cash-paying patients can help make decisions about marketing and growth strategies.  All of these metrics (and many more) are possible while using QuickBooks Online in conjunction with medical billing software.

As much as accountants like me would like to see our software become HIPAA-compliant and be the end-all be-all for all industries, in some cases (such as this one), it’s best left to the experts.  Any accountant or bookkeeper that is hired to take on the task of managing your books should be willing, at a minimum, to sign a “Business Associate Agreement/Contract” (a sample can be found here: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/covered-entities/sample-business-associate-agreement-provisions/index.html) in order to access any of your software that may contain protected health information.

Partnering with an accounting professional who specializes in accounting for the healthcare industry is a sound investment in the prosperity of your business and will likely be your best bet in ensuring your clinic and staff remain HIPAA-compliant.  Dynamic Bookkeeping loves working with medical professionals and would be happy to assist!   Click here to schedule a quick phone call to see if we may be a good fit!



September 29, 2016

Why Should I Move to QuickBooks Online?

in BLOG, Uncategorized 1 comment

Recently, a client and I were having a discussion about the merits of migrating his books from QuickBooks desktop to QuickBooks Online.  A common concern arose: “Why would I pay a monthly subscription fee when I’ve got the desktop version right here and it works fine?”  It occurred to me in that moment that those of us in the accounting industry who leverage technology don’t always do a great job of “selling” the benefits of cloud accounting to our clients – we take it as a given that they will join us without question.  So, below I bring up the most common questions/concerns I’ve heard and the responses I provide.

 I don’t want to pay for a monthly subscription, I can use desktop as long as I want.  This is partially true – you can use desktop as long as you’d like.  However, Intuit officially stops supporting their desktop versions as soon as they hit 3 years old.  This means that some of the features you may have come to rely on will no longer work, or may be buggy.  Further, as Microsoft continues to update Windows, you may find yourself with a version of QuickBooks that is no longer compatible with your operating system.

Conversely, QuickBooks Online is ALWAYS up to date.  Intuit rolls out features and bug fixes all the time to ensure your QBO experience is smooth and on the cutting edge.  The cost of the subscription when partnered with a QuickBooks ProAdvisor or accountant that offers wholesale pricing is essentially the same or even less expensive than purchasing the new desktop software each year.

Having my financial information in the cloud isn’t secure.   I must respectfully disagree.  Your information is already in the cloud, whether you access it or not.  Unless you’re operating your business off the grid and in cash, you’re in the cloud.  QuickBooks Online uses bank-level encryption and has built-in redundancies to ensure security and essentially no service interruptions.

I love being tied down to my desk in order to access my accounting software.  Okay, so this isn’t really a “common” argument I hear.  But it is worth noting that QuickBooks Online allows your business to be mobile.  You can create invoices and track time in the field, take payments from your smartphone or tablet, sit by the pool while you classify transactions and access customer data from anywhere you have an internet connection.  QBO allows multiple users AND free accountant access.

Gone are the days of saving a back up to a disk and bringing it into the CPA to have taxes done; now you send an invite to your accountant and voila! Access is granted.  Your tax professional can make adjustments right there in the file without saving another back up that you will then need to restore into your books.  Let’s hope you hadn’t been working in your company file while these adjustments were being made….once the back up is restored, all that hard work is gone.  No bueno, indeed.

Some businesses tried to use virtual servers like RightNetworks to “host” their QuickBooks desktop file online in order to have access from anywhere.  Not only is this FAR more expensive than the cost of a QBO subscription, but the process of getting on these remote servers and ensuring more than one user wasn’t working in them at the same time was a nightmare.  QBO allows multiple users to be in the file at the same time and has built-in warnings if something is being edited by two or more users simultaneously.

But how do you get my transactions if you don’t come into my office to review my receipts and statements?  Did you know that QuickBooks Online connects directly to your business banking and credit card accounts to pull your banking data in nightly?  All that is needed is a quick glance to ensure the transaction is classified properly.  Best of all, once you classify a transaction a certain way, QBO will “remember” so the next time the same vendor comes through it can be auto-classified.  Since all transactions have come through the bank, your account is essentially reconciled once these charges and deposits are added to your books!

Dynamic Bookkeeping has several years’ experience migrating QuickBooks desktop to QuickBooks Online.  Book a quick phone call with us to get started!