HIPAA compliance is a matter of documenting varieties of files, making protocols and policies for patient data access and reducing cost for the healthcare system. It often produces many questions like what’s the application of it, who does it apply to, and which covered entities and business associates should be included in this compliance, etc. HIPAA or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act 1996 was passed with the core intention to control the security measurement of patient data and prevent fraud- though, the legislation took several years to finalize.
Through HIPAA compliant rules, healthcare organizations will implement privacy, security, and integrity into their business to protect health information.
Understanding the PHI
Protected Health Information or PHI is an important element of HIPAA. PHI is created to establish legal use and disclosure of patient health information. It’s the combination of patients’ identifying information- like name, address and health-related data collected from the healthcare facility. Patients’ medical records, conversations with the provider and billing/insurance information are also classified under PHI.
In short, PHI contains both patients’ identifiable information and health information.
You might also like to read: How Do You Become HIPAA Compliant?
It provides a framework for data safeguard
The key reasons for which HIPAA compliance exists are: ensuring privacy and confidentiality while reducing data frauds and improving patient data system. It also strengthens data security.
HIPAA can provide a framework for safeguarding access to the data and configure access priority for each individual. Any organization dealing with PHI must follow physical, network, and process protocols in places to be HIPAA compliant. Understanding these protocols is necessary and without proper training, you just can’t do that.
It ensures patients’ right to get a copy of the data
HIPAA wants to ensure that the patient will have access to a full copy of his/her health data. This is a matter of civil rights; so HIPAA rules want individual data to be protected by anyone who can create, store, transmit or use that information.
It can save millions of dollars for healthcare providers
Following HIPAA laws can save millions of dollars every year for healthcare providers. HIPAA laws work to reduce any risk for hospitals, patients and other entities by ruling specific tasks and responsibilities for every entity. Obeying these rules can extinguish any risk for every entity, thus saves a large amount of money. It is a must for hospitals to learn these rules for saving costs and avoiding harassment.
It helps to be conscious of violations
HIPAA violations can occur at any time. When there’s a data breach by which patient health information might be compromised, it’s a direct violation of the compliance rule. However, not every data breach should be considered a HIPAA violation. If a data breach happens by the breakdown of a HIPAA compliance program, only then it would be a HIPAA violation.
The area and complexity of this legislation are vast, thus hospital staff and other entities will need to take a step by step training to get a full view of it.
How can a HIPAA violation happen?
An easy example would be losing portable data of patent for not taking precautions. A doctor can take his/her work laptop home, which may contain unencrypted patient data. In this case, if the doctor loses the laptop with those data, and if the hospital didn’t have a policy of not taking that laptop at home – then it will be a direct violation of HIPAA by the hospital.
Some common HIPAA violations include:
- stolen smartphones, laptops or any USB devices carrying unencrypted medical data
- Business associated breach
- Any cyber-attack, like malware incident and ransomware attack on the medical database
- Office break-in due to poor security system
- Social media posts which may include individual medical data
- Breach from electronic health record or EHR
- Providing PHI to the wrong patient
- Discussion of PHI outside of the office
What are the requirements for HIPAA compliance?
A baseline for HIPAA compliance includes:
- Self-Audits to keep a consistent data access record
- Making policies and procedures and providing employee training to understand the policies
- Documentation of related information
- Incident management for handling emergencies
Train your staff on HIPAA compliance in the easiest way
HIPAA Ready will be working with healthcare providers to streamline the HIPAA compliance management process. It’s a robust application that will maintain a digital checklist of tasks, meetings and training information.
Your staff will get a clear understanding of HIPAA compliance once they go through training and management processes with HIPAA Ready. With this, any authorized personnel from the hospital can search for HIPAA policies, set up training schedules, track updates, and create checklists most easily.
HIPAA Ready can schedule training, provide assignments to trainees and send them notifications for any relevant task. This is the most convenient way to make your healthcare organization HIPAA compliant.