Hipaa is a serious topic that needs to be fully understood by medical professionals. We share the answer to a common question, “what is hippa?”
What is HIPAA?
Many new healthcare companies and employees find themselves asking this question. They usually ask it more than once because HIPAA can be somewhat complex. This is because it covers and regulates a wide range of healthcare behaviors and security measures.
HIPAA or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is a standard that regulates the lawful use and disclosure of protected health information. Created in 1996, HIPAA has changed and evolved over the years as technology advanced.
All healthcare covered entities must remain compliant with HIPAA to protect their patients, their organization, and the integrity of protected health information. This is especially poignant in the Digital Age where security breaches and hackers are becoming commonplace.
Protected health information contains a variety of data sources. It contains a patient’s diagnoses, social security number, and even their financial information. This makes protecting this information extremely important as it could significantly put them at risk for identity theft, financial loss, and emotional turmoil.
So, how can your organization be HIPAA compliant? Read on to find out.
What is HIPAA Compliance? Discovering How You Can Become HIPAA Compliant
The responsibility of HIPAA compliance relies on the covered entity, its dealings with its business associates, and its employees. HIPAA violations are serious in nature and could result in hefty fines, termination, or even imprisonment in extreme cases. In turn, a HIPAA violation could significantly impact your healthcare business and career.
HIPAA compliance means that your organization follows all the required measures to protect your patients’ information. It covers a broad range of compliance measures to ensure the protection of your patients’ information. In many cases, HIPAA standards are intentionally vague to allow for flexibility in enforcing its regulations and requirements.
This means that you’ll need to have multiple policies, trainings, and documentation measures in place to remain HIPAA compliant.
Explore the following ways to become HIPAA compliant to discover what is HIPAA compliance.
HIPAA Security Rule
The HIPAA Security Rule requires a covered entity to take proper security measures when dealing with and handling ePHI (electronic protected health information). It covers the security of storage and access to electronic PHI. This means that a healthcare entity must have policies and procedures in place that securely store, manage, and monitor access to ePHI.
There are three parts to the Security rule. These are technical safeguards, physical safeguards, and administrative safeguards.
A main concern of the security rule is preventing data breaches. Specifically, in the form of ePHI since it can be more easily accessed by outside sources if security measures aren’t in place. To be compliant, your organization must conduct self-audits and security risk assessments on a yearly or regular basis.
Once a self-audit is conducted, your organization must then enact a remediation plan that amends any potential security risks or gaps. Remediation plans must be fully documented and provide dates of when these gaps and risks will be amended.
Another important aspect of the security rule is to ensure that all communications and data are encrypted. There must also be policies in place that restrict access to ePHI as well as staff trainings and risk management policies.
HIPAA Privacy Rule
The HIPAA Privacy Rule is applicable to covered entities and Business Associates. Business Associates are organizations that the covered entity does business with such as an IT company, a consultant, or billing companies. Once a signed Business Associate agreement is in place, the Business Associate must also comply with HIPAA.
The Privacy Rule dictates how protected health information can be used and disclosed. It also grants rights to patients to request their medical records and request corrections as needed.
The Privacy Rule also states that every patient needs to be informed of an organization’s HIPAA compliance and privacy procedures. This document known as the Notice of Privacy Practices needs to be reviewed and signed before the patient receives treatment. Notice of Privacy Practices also needs to be visible and available in paper format to all patients.
To remain compliant, make sure to train your employees, receive and store privacy disclosure agreements, and properly safeguard all PHI.
HIPAA Breach Notification Rule
The HIPAA Breach Notification Rule outlines a set of standards and procedures that need to occur in the event of a breach. There are two types of data breaches, minor and meaningful.
A minor breach affects less than 500 individuals and a meaningful breach affects more than 500 individuals. Both minor and meaningful breaches need to be reported to the Office of Civil Rights within 60 days of the discovery of the breach.
Patients also need to be notified in the event of a minor breach within 60 days. In the event of a meaningful breach, patients must be notified upon discovery of the breach. It is also required that local law enforcement be alerted as well as local news agencies.
HIPAA Omnibus Rule
The Omnibus Rule is an additional provision to HIPAA that targets dealings with Business Associates. To remain compliant with this rule, a covered entity needs to update their Notice of Privacy Practices to include this rule, update business associate agreements, and train staff. They must also ensure that they sign business associate agreements with each new business associate.
This rule specifically prevents the use of PHI for marketing purposes. It also allows patients the right to opt out of fundraising correspondence when signing the Notice of Privacy Practices.
What is HIPAA Compliance? How is It Enforced?
The answer to what is HIPAA compliance is complex. To ensure you fully understand HIPAA compliance it’s essential that you research and understand each regulation and standard fully. You must also follow these regulations and remain compliant to them.
If HIPAA compliance is not maintained, then the HIPAA Enforcement Rule will come into place. The HIPAA Enforcement Rule outlines how all HIPAA violations will be dealt with and the subsequent fines and penalties.
Need assistance with Electronic Medical Records management? Check out our consulting services to learn more.