If you’re doing business in the healthcare industry, now is a good time to review your IT and communication systems to make sure that your business or organization is HIPAA compliant.
The HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) was enacted to protect privacy and data security in the healthcare industry. Healthcare providers; hospitals, physicians and nurses, public health authorities, pharmacists, life insurers, self-insured employers and medical billing services are all federally required to safeguard patient and other sensitive data from loss or theft. Accidental or intentional loss of this data could cost an organization thousands, perhaps even millions, of dollars in fines and penalties.
Although HIPAA regulations have been in existence since 1996, they haven’t been strictly enforced - but that’s about to change. It was recently announced that the US Government has awarded nearly $10 million in contracts for outsourced auditors to conduct approximately 150 HIPAA compliance audits beginning in late 2011 and early 2012.
Health care providers need to assure that electronic data is secured and all other aspects of HIPAA are being complied with, as these audits will be conducted “on-site” and will include meetings with Chief Information Officers, legal counsel and other corporate or organizational leaders.
In recent news, UCLA agreed to pay a $865K settlement for HIPAA violations, so not complying with the rules set forth in HIPAA proved to be a costly one.
There’s no time like the present to review your HIPAA procedures and make sure that you’re up to speed ahead of the upcoming HIPAA compliance audits, including an evaluation of how your IT department handles Email and other communications with billing companies, patients and others. HIPAA violations are costly and with mandated audits ordered by the US Government, there’s no time to delay your plan of action for HIPAA compliance.