Do I Need To Worry About HIPAA?
If you’re in the healthcare industry, HIPAA is a Federal Regulation that could affect the livelihood of your health care based business. HIPAA regulation applies to Physicians, medical billing companies, health insurance companies, non-profit health care organizations, hospitals, dental practices and any other businesses that are involved in sharing or transmitting sensitive patient information.
What Is HIPAA?
HIPAA is an acronym for “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.” It was enacted in 1996 by former President Bill Clinton as a way to protect worker’s from losing health insurance coverage when they changed or lost their jobs. Title II of the HIPAA bill calls for a unified national standard for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers. The intention of HIPAA is to reform the healthcare industry by reducing costs, making administrative processes and burdens easier and securing patient’s privacy rights as it concerns their medical records.
As stated earlier, there are two parts in HIPAA that healthcare providers or business associates must abide by.
First, HIPAA Privacy, and secondly, HIPAA Security.
HIPAA Privacy protects the privacy of individuals’ PHI – or Protected Health Information. Protected Health Information includes any information that’s recorded in any form or medium - including speech - that’s created by or received by a health care provider, health plan, public health authority, employer, life insurer, school or university. This applies to the past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition of any individual, as well as the provision of health care to an individual, or the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to that patient.
HIPAA Security is related to the Information Technology that’s used to protect patient data in electronic form such as Computer Infrastructure, Email transmissions, hard storage such as DVD’s, CD’s and portable USB’s used to store or share patient data with other health care professionals. Ideally, this information shouldn’t be stored on physical hard drives that can be accessed by unauthorized personnel or on a laptop computer that could easily be lost or stolen. Data encryption is a must, since patient records that are intercepted by the wrong person could result in costly fines and penalties for your organization.
If you’re wondering whether you’re required to comply with regulations covered under HIPAA, chances are, you must. Recent changes mandated by HITECH legislation has made it so that business associates that weren’t previously required to abide by HIPAA guidelines are now subject to the same regulations that front line Covered entities must adhere to. (In some cases, HIPAA violations could be considered criminal in nature.) As well as possible fines and penalties for violations, business associates could be subject to HIPAA compliance audits that are scheduled to take place in the next year.
How Do I Implement HIPAA And HITECH Compliance?
HIPAA compliance is comprised of two components. The first is providing HIPAA training to employees that includes procedures and document handling and secondly, a HIPAA compliant information technology infrastructure complete with data encryption, laptop and mobile security and secured communications.
HIPAA compliance can be a confusing subject, but solutions for HIPAA compliance aren’t as difficult as you might think. If you’d like to learn more about HIPAA compliant Email and web security services, please visit HIPAA compliant services for a no-obligation free quote to bring your organization’s IT requirements up to speed.