If you are a business owner who deals with sensitive health information, you need to be HIPAA compliant. This can be a daunting task, but it is not impossible.
In this blog post, we will provide 6 useful tips that will help you get started on the path to compliance. Stay safe and protect your patients by following these tips!
Understand The Basics Of HIPAA Compliance
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, is a set of rules that govern how protected health information is used and disclosed (PHI). HIPAA compliance is mandatory for all covered entities, including healthcare providers, health plans, and clearinghouses.
HIPAA compliance is important because it helps to ensure the privacy and security of patient health information. Protected health information is any information that can be used to identify an individual, and this includes everything from a person’s name and address to their medical records and treatment history.
By adhering to the HIPAA regulations, covered entities can help to ensure that this sensitive information is kept confidential and only used for authorized purposes. This, in turn, helps to protect the patients’ privacy and safeguard their health information.
Understand The HIPAA Privacy Rules
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the Privacy Rule to implement the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The Privacy Rule establishes national rules for the protection of certain types of health data. The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces the Privacy Rule for HIPAA-covered entities, which are health plans, health care clearinghouses, and certain health care providers.
The Privacy Rule applies to all forms of protected health information (PHI), whether electronic, written, or oral, PHI is any information about a person’s past, present, or future physical or mental health condition that can be used to identify an individual. This includes, but is not limited to, information such as an individual’s name, address, birth date, Social Security number, medical records, and health insurance information.
Under the Privacy Rule, covered entities must take steps to protect the confidentiality of PHI. They must also provide individuals with certain rights with respect to their PHI. For example, individuals have the right to access their PHI, request amendments to their PHI, and receive copies of this information in an electronic format.
Understand HIPAA Security Rules
To secure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI, the Security Rule includes administrative, physical, and technical protections. HIPAA regulation covers entities under its regulations and anyone covered must implement these safeguards to ensure HIPAA compliance. Let’s look at each of them in more detail:
Administrative Safeguards are the policies and procedures put in place to protect ePHI and manage the risks to its security.
Physical Safeguards are physical measures taken to protect electronic equipment and facilities housing ePHI from unauthorized access, tampering, or theft.
Technical Safeguards are technology-based solutions used to protect ePHI from unauthorized access or disclosure. Technical safeguards can be further divided into three categories:
- Access Control: This safeguard is designed to limit access to ePHI to only those individuals who need it for their job duties. Access control measures include things like user IDs and passwords, as well as physical access controls like keycards and locks.
- Audit Controls: This safeguard is designed to track and monitor activity surrounding ePHI. Audit controls can include things like logging systems that track who accessed what data and when, as well as encryption that renders data unreadable if it falls into the wrong hands.
- Integrity Controls: This safeguard is designed to protect ePHI from unauthorized modification or destruction. Integrity controls can include things like data backup and disaster recovery plans, as well as security measures to prevent viruses and malware from infecting systems.
By understanding and implementing these safeguards, covered entities can ensure HIPAA compliance and protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI.
Read About The Breach Notification Rule
The Breach Notification Rule requires covered entities to provide notification following a breach of unsecured protected health information. A covered entity must provide notification to each individual whose unsecured protected health information has been breached.
The notification must include, at a minimum, a description of the incident, the types of information involved in the breach, and steps individuals can take to protect themselves from potential harm.
The covered entity must also provide notification to the Secretary of HHS. In certain circumstances, a covered entity may be required to provide delayed notification if law enforcement determines that notification would impede a criminal investigation.
If you are a covered entity and have experienced a breach of unsecured protected health information, it is important to take immediate action to mitigate the breach and comply with the Breach Notification Rule.
Read Up On The HIPAA Enforcement Rule
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued the HIPAA Enforcement Rule, which sets forth the fines and penalties that may be imposed on covered entities and their business associates for noncompliance with HIPAA Rules. The Enforcement Rule applies to all HIPAA-covered entities, including healthcare providers, health plans, and clearinghouses.
The Enforcement Rule provides for civil monetary penalties of up to $50,000 per violation, with a maximum of $25 million per year for each covered entity. In addition, the Secretary of HHS may impose criminal penalties of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to ten years for knowing violations of HIPAA Rules.
The HIPAA Enforcement Rule also requires covered entities to report certain violations of the HIPAA Rules to the Secretary of HHS. Covered entities that fail to comply with the requirements of the Enforcement Rule may be subject to civil or criminal penalties.
The Department of Health and Human Services has issued guidance on how it will enforce the new HIPAA rules. The guidance includes information on the types of violations that will be subject to enforcement action, the process for investigating complaints, and the penalties that may be imposed for noncompliance.
Why Stay Compliant
There are many reasons why staying compliant with HIPAA is important. First and foremost, it’s the law. Healthcare organizations that fail to comply with HIPAA can be subject to heavy fines. Additionally, HIPAA compliance helps protect patients’ health information and ensures that it is used appropriately.
There are a few key things that healthcare organizations need to do in order to stay compliant with HIPAA. First, they need to have a comprehensive security plan in place. This plan should include physical, administrative, and technical safeguards to protect patient data. Additionally, healthcare organizations need to have policies and procedures in place to ensure that employees are trained on HIPAA compliance and understand their roles and responsibilities.
There are many reasons to stay compliant with HIPAA, including avoiding heavy fines, protecting patient data, and ensuring that employees are trained on HIPAA compliance. Healthcare organizations need to have a comprehensive security plan in place to protect patient data and ensure compliance with HIPAA. By following these tips, healthcare organizations can ensure compliance with HIPAA and avoid penalties.