When it comes to healthcare organizations, HIPAA compliance is mandatory. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA is designed to keep the patient’s medical records protected and safe. Healthcare organizations should focus on being HIPAA compliant, especially during this time of the pandemic.
The HIPAA rules cover various aspects, and organizations find it daunting to abide by the policies. So, to make the process tad easier for you, we have compiled a HIPAA compliance checklist. But first, let’s find out what it means to be HIPAA compliant.
Understanding HIPAA Compliance
HIPAA compliance means a series of tasks and processes a healthcare organization has to follow to abide by the HIPAA regulations.
If an organization is violating HIPAA guidelines, individuals can report it to the Office for Civil Rights. This might cause the organization to pay a penalty. The penalty amount depends on the intention and the seriousness of the incident. However, it ranges from $100-$50,000 for every breach of rules.
However, disclosing medical details intentionally is a criminal offense and can lead to imprisonment.
What is the Purpose of HIPAA Compliance Rules?
HIPAA Regulations and Rules ensure the protection of patient data. The organization has to abide by the Security Rule, Privacy Rule, and Breach Notification Rule.
Now, let’s move on to the checklist.
HIPAA Compliance Checklist 2021
To achieve HIPAA compliance, here’s what you have to do.
1. Get to Know the HIPAA Privacy Rule
The HIPAA Privacy Rule tells you how and when authorized personnel can get access to PHI. These individuals include healthcare professionals, administrative personnel, and others within the healthcare ecosystem.
According to the HIPAA Data Security and Privacy Rule, healthcare organizations need to protect PHI privacy. It also includes access and usage restrictions of the information. With the Privacy Rule in place, patients have certain rights over the PHI. It enables them to request changes or make a copy of the records.
2. Get to Know the HIPAA Security Rule
HIPAA Data Security Standards define the organization’s cyber and data security for the EHR. The HIPAA data security rule comprises three security measures that healthcare organizations need to maintain.
- Physical Protection: Security personnel in places where the sensitive data is kept. It also includes the security of the work station.
- Administrative Protection: Training employees on how to keep data safe and performing internal audits on risk management.
- Technical Protection: It includes measures taken to ensure transmission security. Technical safety measures include the use of encryption protocols for the network and data present on the network.
You might not come across any specific privacy or security practices on HIPAA. So, it is on the organization and its administration to decide the most effective measure.
3. Protecting Patient Data
Next on the checklist is patient data protection. For this, an organization needs to adopt the right to privacy and security measures.
According to HIPAA, PHI is the individually identifiable health record that is stored and exchanged between individuals or organizations. It can be verbal communications or recorded on paper. As per the HIPAA Data Security and Privacy Rule, PHI contains information on the patient’s past, present, and future along with the details about the healthcare offered to the patient and the payment details.
The details mainly include but is not limited to,
- Contact details: Address, phone number, and email address
- Dates: Birth and Treatment Schedule
- Medical Record Numbers
- Social Security Numbers
- Digital Images and Photographs
- Voice Recordings
All these details come under the protection of the HIPAA Data Security and Privacy Rule.
4. Get to Know the HIPAA Data Breach Rule
It is crucial for a healthcare organization to know how to deal with a data breach event. This is what is governed by the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule.
The common data breach issues that can arise in a healthcare organization are-
- Theft of IT equipment
Usually, violations arise due to negligence. But often, the organization’s partial compliance to HIPAA Data Security Standard rules can also be the reason behind the data breach.
To prevent data breaches, organizations require a robust cybersecurity program. But it also requires proper staff training and adapting strong internal security measures.
There are different types of data breaches. So, which breaches are your company at the risk of? Well, it actually depends on the nature of the organization and the relationship it shares with the patients and their health records. Hence, it is crucial that your organization works with a HIPAA compliance industry to learn about the measures you can take.
As per the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule, the healthcare organization must notify the patients that their health records might have been compromised or stolen. But when or how you should notify the patients will depend on the nature of the breach.
A smaller breach is one that affects less than 500 individuals within one jurisdiction. As per the HIPAA rules, some action needs to be taken in such a case. The organization has to collect data on data breaches that have occurred throughout the year and report them within 60 days of the breach. But if a breach affects more than 500 people at once, it is called a meaningful breach. These breaches have to be reported within 60 days to the Human Services Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Health. Also, it has to be reported to the local law enforcement agencies.
5. Stay Up-to-Date with the Changes in HIPAA Regulations
Changes are bound to take place when it comes to HIPAA Regulations. After complying with HIPAA regulations, it is important to keep track of the changes taking place. It is crucial that you stay updated about the new additions to HIPAA.
Loads of changes are to be made in 2021 itself. Hence, you need to be prepared already. Sure, your healthcare organization might be HIPAA compliant at present, but it is important that you monitor the updates and make changes, accordingly.
Effects of HIPAA Violations?
If there is a violation of HIPAA regulations, healthcare organizations, and providers should report the breach of data security.
In case the breach extends to more than 500 individuals, here’s what the provider has to do.
- Contact HHS Secretary
- Notify the local media
But in case less than 500 people are affected, the HHS Secretary has to be reported within 60 days.
Often business associates and covered entities fail to comply with HIPAA rules and regulations. These are usually discovered through investigations or random audits.
How can ResolveData Help Your Healthcare Organization with HIPAA Compliance?
HIPAA compliance is crucial for organizations dealing with PHI, and we can help you with it. Our experts know that the healthcare industry is most vulnerable to data breaches. With more data, the risk of data breaches increases. So, how to protect data and comply with HIPAA?
ResolveData uses high-quality security solutions to protect your data. It discovers and identifies data and assesses who has access to it. Hence, protecting data becomes much easier. The company uses strong software to check the current status of the data by scanning through enterprise data sources. We help the healthcare providers to fulfill the requirement of HIPAA compliance by tracking and monitoring PHI.