3 Moves Towards HIPAA Compliance
HIPAA, also known as The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was enacted in 1996 for the purpose of restructuring the health care industry. The means laid out to accomplish this task were to streamline administrative procedures at the same time as increasing the security and privacy of patient information. HIPAA has been a far-reaching act because it affects not only health care professionals who are employed in hospitals, clinics and dental practices, but HIPAA is also an implementation challenge for providers in other fields who also have access to personal health information. This includes such organizations and individuals as call center agents, medical equipment providers and even insurance staff.
For a long period of time enforcement of HIPAA has been relatively lenient. So far, few penalties have actually been imposed on companies that do not meet HIPAA security and privacy and security standards when handling their patient’s data. This reality is changing and in recent months it’s becoming clear that have been much tougher audits and bigger fines imposed on non-compliant firms. In February, HHS levied a $4.3 million fine on Cignet Health of Prince George’s County, Maryland. Luckily, the path to HIPAA compliance can be traversed by those who follow three quick ways to create the proper environment.
3 Steps to Move Towards HIPAA Compliance
- Assignment of a HIPAA Compliance Officer. It’s generally recommended that a staff member completes a HIPAA compliance training course. Once they’ve done that, they can be designated as responsible for maintaining and enforcing HIPAA requirements.
- Endeavor to train staff members so that they understand the HIPAA provisions and policies and the impact they’ll have on your organization. Even after your initial education, conducting ongoing staff training on HIPAA requirements will be required for all employees. This training will need to be customized according to the access level the staff member has to patient information and data.
- Take measures that patient data is safeguarded. This is an extremely important step and involves ensuring that only authorised personnel are allowed access to patient information and records. Any network of standalone computer systems that already contain sensitive data should be strictly controlled for physicaly access and they must have up-to-date antivirus software that can also detect malware. All of your organization’s electronic data must also backed up on a schedule.
Following these simple steps help ensure that your organization can meet HIPAA requirements. The key element is to appoint a key employee to be the HIPAA compliance officer. That person will then need to complete appropriate training in order to make sure they proper mechanisms are in place to ensure patient data integrity. This will require a technical as well as a cultural solution. If you haven’t made a move to ensure HIPAA compliance, and you’re required to, the time to start is long overdue. With fines totaling in the millions, getting started today is a must.
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