If you’re a healthcare professional, then you know that HIPAA compliance is essential. But even if you’re not, it’s important to understand the basics of HIPAA compliance so that you can protect your data. Here are 11 things you should know about HIPAA compliance.
1. What is HIPAA and why is it important?
HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Enacted by Congress in 1996, HIPAA establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other health information, including requirements for healthcare providers, health plans, pharmacies, and others to better protect the confidentiality of individually identifiable health information. The goal is to ensure that patients trust their healthcare providers with their sensitive personal information so that they will receive quality care—without having to worry about their private data being shared or used against them.
2. What information does HIPAA protect?
HIPAA protects all health information of a healthcare professional held in electronic form, as well as some protected health information that is held in paper form. This type of information includes a patient’s medical history, treatment plans and outcomes, insurance claims, Social Security numbers, and even lab results.
3. Are there exceptions to HIPAA?
HIPAA’s protection of healthcare information does not apply to all situations. HIPAA only applies when the information is held by a “covered entity.” A covered entity can be a doctor, hospital, or any other provider that handles health care claims. In addition, these entities may share protected data with others as long as they sign what is known as a Business Associate Agreement (BAA).
4. What other laws protect health information?
HIPAA is not the only law protecting healthcare information. The Privacy Rule, which protects healthcare information under HIPPA, works in tandem with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which also contains rules protecting health information. In addition, states have passed laws about the privacy of healthcare information. For example, California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act makes it illegal for anyone to disclose personal medical information except when the law says they can or when a patient authorizes it.
5. Is there an easy way to remember HIPAA compliance?
Yes! HIPAA’s protection is split up into Administrative Simplification Rules and Privacy Rule . You can keep these straight by remembering that all HIPAA acronyms include “PA” for “Privacy.” The rest concerns IT security measures taken to protect electronic records (the Administrative Simplification Rules). That’s why you can remember “HIPAA has two R’s: Privacy and Security!”
6. Who does HIPAA apply to?
if you’re a US-based healthcare organization, then HIPAA applies to you. This doesn’t just include hospitals; it also includes doctors’ offices, nursing homes, pharmacies, dental practices and more. Even billing departments are accountable to HIPAA regulations because they could contain ePHI [electronic PHI].
HIPAA also applies to any outside organizations that work on behalf of covered entities (healthcare providers). For example, if you outsource your billing department to an external agency then they will need to be HIPAA compliant too.
7. What are the consequences of violating HIPAA regulations?
Those who are found to violate HIPAA regulations can face civil penalties, referred to as sanctions. So far, the largest penalty has been more than $4.3 million. The Office of Civil Rights also investigates all reports where there’s a potential breach of PHI.
8. What are the basic requirements of HIPAA compliance?
The main requirement under HIPAA is that health care providers store patient records in a secure electronic system that keeps them private and makes them accessible only to authorized individuals. Other requirements are that health care providers train their employees in security measures, conduct security risk assessment regularly, review policies at least annually for relevance, offer patients the opportunity to request restrictions on certain uses of their data, and more.
9. Why should I worry about being HIPAA compliant?
Because you have patients’ sensitive information stored electronically, you work with ePHI (electronic protected health information). HIPAA requires all medical professionals who work with ePHI to comply with HIPAA security rules. If you fail to do so, you can face severe consequences for noncompliance, including fines.
10. What are the next steps I should take to be HIPAA compliant?
The exact details of what needs to be done to be HIPAA compliant will vary from one organization to another; the requirements depend on many factors (including size and type of practice). However, most practices would greatly benefit from taking these three steps:
Obtain a Risk Analysis – A risk analysis is an evaluation that looks at your current network and identifies risks and weaknesses that could potentially lead to cyberattack or breach of patient data; this often involves hiring a third party to conduct an assessment of your network.
Implement Security Solutions – Once risks are identified, you can implement security solutions that will mitigate them; these include the following: encryption, strong authentication, audit logging and data loss prevention.
Train Your Employees – The last step in being HIPAA compliant is to train all staff members about how to use any new security solutions you have implemented as well as appropriate practices for protecting patient information.
11. What do I need to know about HIPAA regulations?
The best thing you can do is make sure that all who work with PHI know exactly what they’re allowed to handle and what they’re not. Make sure everyone keeps track of any ePHI [electronic PHI] stored electronically or on paper; if it ever leaves the building (ePHI storage must remain within your organization), then it needs to be encrypted or password protected.
HIPAA compliance is essential for protecting your data. By understanding the basics of HIPAA compliance, you can ensure that your data is protected and that you are in compliance with the law. If you have any questions about HIPAA compliance, please contact us. Medical ITG are here to help you protect your data and stay compliant with the law. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]