The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted by the 1996 United States Congress and signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton. Although HIPAA was initially implemented as far back as 1997, it didn’t hit its full stride until 2003. The main purpose of HIPAA was to establish a unified system for the handling of health care documents, which did not exist up until that point. HIPAA was specifically designed to reduce or prevent fraud in the health care system at the same time making delivering health care electronically an easy task. Through the creation of this system, which allowed for the electronic delivery of medical transactions, HIPAA introduced the ability to help streamline processes at all health care facilities.
With HIPAA compliance requirements on the rise, HIPAA compliance checklists have become an extremely common document in offices impacted by the regulation. HIPAA checklists need to include important basic guides to how the organization is maintaining Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliance. Specifically, this means contingency plans, access to information and records, emergency operations, and response to incidents, all should be included and spelled out in detail. Also included needs to be information about what software is being used, audit control, information on the hardware configuration, and transmission security. What many organizations do is appoint a dedicated team member to become the officer who controls these rules and makes sure compliance is strictly enforced.
5 Things Every HIPAA Checklist Needs
1. Extremely important to the success of your HIPAA compliance is a clear definition of duties. Your HIPAA compliance checklist needs to detail exactly which staff are allowed access to records, and how much access they have. Access level definition is important because it limits the handling of patient data and information severely. Much fraud has occurred over the years because access controls to patient information has not been tightly implemented.
2. You also need to defined a clear set of procedures for dealing with HIPAA. Your HIPAA checklist needs to establish policies for those inevitable times when you have to modify access to patient information and records.
3. Your checklist needs to outline a procedure for responding to privacy or security incidents. You need to report and document any incident related to patient privacy and data security. Keep track of the outcomes so that you can consistently improve your handling of these sensitive matters.
4. A backup and recovery plan for your data has to be included in your HIPAA checklist. You also have to plan for disaster recovery and business continuity. Not only does this plan need to be implemented, but it has to be thoroughly tested to make sure it works. You also need to determine if your current hardware or software needs to be upgraded and what other designs to your system you can make.
5. Extremely important to the success of your HIPAA compliance checklist is the installation of security software. HIPAA is primarily concerned with protecting the privacy and safety of patient records. Breaches to any system could result in the leak of many confidential patient records. Installing a cloud-based firewall and other network protection helps reduce the chance this type of disaster will happen in your facility. Any data that is electronically dispersed has to be encrypted before transmission. You also need to run routine system checks designed to ensure the safety of all electronic material in your possession.
Once your HIPAA compliance checklist has been assigned and implemented your next step is to assign an officer to maintain it. The person you appoint will have the task of acting as the main HIPAA compliance officer for your organization. This individual will be tasked with making sure your organization is maintaining and enforcing HIPAA regulations and rules.
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