4 Things You Can Do to Become HIPAA Compliant
HIPAA is a set of federal rules that all healthcare organizations must follow in order to protect patient personal health information (PHI). It’s a complex system, but it can be achieved with a combination of internal processes and the right technology. Here are four things you can do to become hipaa compliant:
Identify what type of organization is required to be HIPAA compliant
The first step in becoming HIPAA compliant is to determine whether your business is a covered entity or business associate. This will depend on what type of PHI you hold and who accesses it. A covered entity is a healthcare provider or clearinghouse that furnishes, bills, or is paid for medical services in a manner that results in the transmission of ePHI.
A business associate is a non-healthcare company that receives ePHI from or provides services to a covered entity. Examples of business associates include accountants, lawyers, and IT personnel.
Know what types of ePHI you have stored and what kinds of people have access to it
All healthcare organizations must maintain an up-to-date inventory of ePHI they hold. This can include the names, dates of birth, addresses, Social Security numbers, and other identifying information.
Implement policies and procedures for ePHI storage, use, and access. These should include a strong password policy, restrictions on how ePHI is accessed or used, and audit reports.
Ensure that your policies are well-documented and distributed to everyone in your organization. This will help to prevent any confusion as to what is and isn’t allowed.
Conduct a risk assessment to identify potential gaps in your security measures and put in place a comprehensive risk mitigation plan. This will include training your staff in ePHI access protocols and educating them about cyber-intrusion threats.
Create a corrective action plan for violations that occur, including the steps you need to take to get back into compliance. This will also help to prevent future issues from occurring.
Prepare for a minor breach and a meaningful breach
A minor breach is one that affects fewer than 500 individuals within a single jurisdiction. The Breach Notification Rule mandates certain actions to be taken in this scenario, including reporting breaches to the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights and ensuring affected individuals are notified immediately.
Keep in mind that HIPAA regulations are continuously evolving, and you will need to continue to monitor the rules for any changes. It’s important to stay up-to-date on HIPAA standards so that you can maintain the proper level of protection for your ePHI.
The most important thing to remember is that a breach can result in costly fines and penalties, so it’s crucial to ensure your organization is prepared to handle such an event. The consequences for a violation can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars in fines, to tens of millions of dollars in damage claims.
If you don’t have the resources to keep up with HIPAA requirements, it’s a good idea to partner with a firm that can help you navigate this complicated system. These firms can assist with developing, implementing, and maintaining the policies, systems, and safeguards necessary to ensure your organization is compliant. They can also provide ongoing support and assistance if any issues arise in the future.