Patient privacy is dependent on HIPAA compliance and secure adoption of electronic health records, hence data security has become extremely important in the healthcare industry (EHR). The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 included the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which highlighted the federal government’s commitment to encourage the widespread use of EHR. Healthcare organizations that did not upgrade their facilities to store medical records electronically by 2015 were subject to sanctions. Patient confidentiality is essential, and the last thing anyone in the healthcare business wants is a data breach, a compromise of patient information, or a penalty for failing to comply.
What is HIPAA compliance, and why is it important?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a United States of America federal statute. It was created primarily to:
- Make health insurance coverage more portable and consistent. When an individual accepts a job with a new employer, portability ensures that their insurance coverage is preserved.
- Eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in health-care insurance and delivery.
- Implementing the Privacy Rule, Security Rule, and Breach Notification Rule are all part of this.
- Encourage the usage of medical savings accounts by establishing a benchmark for the amount that can be saved in a pre-tax savings account per individual.
- Increase access to and coverage for long-term care services. Individuals with pre-existing conditions are covered as well.
- Make employer tax deductions and other tax revenue elements more clear.
What impact does COVID have on HIPAA?
The COVID-19 epidemic is transforming healthcare, as well as HIPAA compliance. As a result, taking COVID-19 into consideration in the cybersecurity, physical security, and compliance areas of your organization that may be affected is a key item on your HIPAA compliance checklist.
Remote work and telemedicine are the most important considerations for most healthcare practitioners and covered businesses. PHI about patients is being handled in more places, including people’s homes and on personal devices in many circumstances. As a result, the HHS CSC agreed to temporarily suspend HIPAA-related fines and penalties.
However, because the transition may or may not be permanent, further safeguards regarding PHI handling in the work-from-home, telehealth-centric period are required to assure long-term compliance. You’ll want to clearly identify and govern device ownership so that everyone knows who is in charge of which forms of PHI.
You should also look through your current procedures and policies to see where PHI protection might be improved. For example, to prevent PHI from being accessed via a lost or stolen device, multi-factor authentication and biometrics should be used for device logins. It’s also important to improve staff education and training surrounding protecting PHI, with a focus on work-from-home best practices.
Privacy and security rules under HIPAA
With its Privacy and Security Rules, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) establishes the standard for protecting sensitive patient data. In order to maintain HIPAA compliance, any organization that works with protected health information (PHI) must have physical, network, and process security measures in place and follow them.
With the HIPAA Privacy Rule, also known as the Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) established nationwide standards for protecting particular health information.
Similarly, the Security Rule is designed to safeguard specific health information that is stored or sent electronically. As a result, the Security Rule puts the Privacy Rule’s safeguards into practice by laying out the technological and non-technical measures that covered companies must use to protect individuals’ personal health information. The Security Rule requires HIPAA-covered businesses to apply the following measures for ePHI, according to the HHS’ HIPAA website:
The Privacy and Security Rules are enforced by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through voluntary compliance efforts and civil money penalties.
Data protection and HIPAA safeguards
Furthermore, the HHS requires that organizations have physical and technical safeguards in place when hosting sensitive patient data, including limited facility access with access controls in place, policies governing use and access to workstations, electronic media, and any attempts to transfer, remove, dispose of, or re-use electronic media or e-PHI, and policies governing use and access to workstations, electronic media, and any attempts at transferring, removing, disposing, and re-using electronic media or e-PHI. Only authorized workers have access to e-PHI, which typically necessitates the use of unique user IDs, emergency access procedures, automatic log-off, encryption, and audit reports or tracking records of all activities on hardware and software.
Beyond the minimum criteria for HIPAA compliance, data protection strategies must be in place to secure PHI/e-PHI. These data protection strategies must enable healthcare organizations to maintain the trust of healthcare professionals and patients by ensuring the security and availability of PHI; comply with HIPAA and HITECH regulations for access, audit, and integrity controls, including data transmission and device security; and maintain greater visibility and control of sensitive data across the organization. In order to provide quality care, healthcare organizations and providers need access to patient data. However, complying with regulations and requirements for protecting patient health information necessitates a combination of strong security strategies, appropriate security solutions, and sufficient IT resources to implement them. Access control, data loss prevention, encryption, secure file sharing tools, and network security solutions such as firewalls and antivirus software are all common security solutions in the healthcare industry. Data loss prevention solutions are frequently used in healthcare companies to monitor, categorize, and safeguard ePHI due to their capacity to discover, classify, and protect sensitive information.
Healthcare organizations and providers may share data securely both inside and outside the business, manage privileged users, and comply with monitoring and reporting standards with the right data protection strategies and technologies in place.
HIPAA was intended to ensure that personal health information (PHI) about patients and customers remains private. HIPAA’s requirements are intended to assist your business, firm, or healthcare institution in taking all necessary efforts to protect healthcare data. While HIPAA compliance may appear daunting at first, following a step-by-step method will help you get there quickly.
Finally, you should work with an expert HIPAA compliance company to ensure that all of the elements on your HIPAA checklist are appropriately checked off, from understanding HIPAA to implementation and maintenance.
ResolveData’s Kogni solution is a high-adapt security solution that allows for growth while staying under set risk tolerances. Kogni’s intelligent security fencing prevents breaches and isolates threats, ensuring that all sorts of sensitive data are protected. Speak with one of our specialists now to learn more about how healthcare data security and protection can aid with HIPAA compliance.
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