From intake to billing, patient information is protected. Make sure all of your patient data is HIPAA compliant by following these tips.
In 2019, the health information of almost 35 million American people was compromised through their medical provider’s systems.
These violations end up costing those medical practices a lot of money each year. It’s important to keep your practice HIPAA compliant but sometimes that seems like an overwhelming task. There are so many aspects to handle, it’s hard to know where to start.
We’ve compiled a list of the top five tips to help you protect your practice as best as possible.
1. Stay Current on Industry Standards
The most important thing you can do to remain HIPPA compliant is to keep up with the changing industry standards.
The world of medicine is always changing and evolving. New technologies are being introduced all the time on both the treatment and management sides of the business. When this happens in your clinic you have to make sure everything is still secure.
Recently, many healthcare providers have expanded their services to include telemedicine.
As they’ve done this they’ve had to incorporate that treatment option into their security systems. They couldn’t start offering that service until they had a HIPAA-compliant telemedicine system.
Whatever the expansion may be for your clinic, it’s important to make sure it all fits under the HIPAA rules.
2. Consult with an Expert
To be HIPAA compliant takes a lot of vigilance and work to get everything covered. If you’re just beginning a medical practice it can be difficult to make sure you’re meeting all of the requirements.
This is where working with an expert can be very helpful. These professionals will be able to guide you through the setup process and explain any questions you may have.
Going through a consultation process will help to get you started off on the right foot, or show you what things could be done better if you’re already established. The outside focused perspective will be hugely beneficial.
Running a medical practice is a difficult job because there are so many things to take care of and remember, delegate the HIPAA compliance to an outside source to relive that stress.
3. Create Sound Procedures
A great way to protect your business from breaches and from compromised patient information is to put secure systems and procedures in place from the start.
As with most problems, a lot of HIPAA issues come from human error. Maybe an employee doesn’t log out correctly or they’re taking their work home. Whatever the case may be, they likely don’t have the structure they need to fully avoid problems.
Once you’ve created procedures within your clinic that will aid in keeping private information safe, it’s critical to spend the time and energy fully training your employees to follow those guidelines.
4. Grant Limited Access
Another great way to make sure you’re as HIPAA Compliant as possible is to limit who has access to the personal, private information in the first place.
Not every employee who works in your practice needs to have unlimited ability to get into patient charts and other systems. Instead, you should decide who really needs to have access and who doesn’t.
This just eliminates many vulnerabilities and opportunities for things to go wrong.
When you’re going through this process it will also give you the reminder to check security systems, making sure everything is protected. There shouldn’t be any free-floating patient information anywhere in your practice.
5. Take Preventative Steps
Even though it will take some time, money, and effort it’s so important to take preventative measures.
Handling a data breach can be a nightmare for a healthcare facility. It can mean financial ruin, possible loss of patients, or other major problems. There are several ways you can avoid all of those headaches and prevent data breaches.
Work Before Data Breaches
The time to set up HIPAA-compliant email or HIPAA-compliant file sharing isn’t after you’ve had a breach. It’s long before then, as early as you possibly can.
Prevention is the best way to guard against data breaches and patient information violations. If you’re successful in setting up secure systems, you won’t have to worry about if your practice is HIPAA compliant or not.
This also includes setting up cyber and physical security systems to ward off intruders.
Upgrade Technology Regularly
As technology improves, your systems need upgrades to keep up with the increasing benefits.
These upgrades can come in many different forms whether that be new software (updating to the most recent version or changing altogether) or getting new equipment that can handle stronger security measures.
Beyond security, it’s important to keep all of your software as up to date as possible to keep your entire business running smoothly.
Letting things go un-upgraded can make your whole system weak. Even if it was the best on the market at the time of purchase, it can easily be outdated in a few years because of changing technology.
Scout for Vulnerabilities
Unfortunately, there is no way to be 100% secure with no possibility of a data breach. But you can really limit those opportunities by regularly looking for vulnerabilities within your system.
Hackers are continually evolving and working to come up with new ways to get the information that they want.
They’re looking at systems like yours to see where they can get in, so it’s important to do regular check-ins to see where things can be improved or updated. It’s especially helpful when you can get some professional help on this as well.
Checking in with the HIPAA industry to see where others have had issues is a great way to shore up your security and eliminate weak spots.
Keep Your Business HIPAA Compliant
Being HIPAA compliant is an important aspect of running a successful medical practice. It allows you to be in business, build strong patient relationships, and prevents you from having to pay expensive fines and settlements.
Sometimes things out of our control happen and a breach will occur. But taking the time to make sure your practice is up to date on HIPAA standards will save you from many of those situations.
If you’re interested in getting advice and a solid plan in place, contact us today!