The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was put in place in 1996. It ensures data privacy and provides security provisions for safeguarding patient medical information. This act was forward-thinking back in 1996, sure. But its relevance in the modern age of data breaches, cyberattacks, and ransomware scams cannot be overstated. Adhering to its requirements is just as important to the functioning of your practice as maintaining insurance for medical professionals.
Ensuring HIPAA compliance in your medical organization is essential for the security of your patients and longevity of your practice. One of the primary tenets of the Act is to maintain the confidentiality of protected health information. Implementing the following procedures will help keep your office on the right side of the privacy aspects of the HIPAA.
Chief Information Officers and IT administrators should be well-versed in the requirements of the act. Then leaders should implement a set of procedures to make sure all data is handled in accordance with its provisions. You should test these procedures under operational conditions to ensure they're as effective in practice as they appear on paper. Further, make a concerted effort to keep abreast of the evolving requirements, as they change in response to discovered threats.
Attacks can vary, depending on the nature of your practice. While there are definite guidelines to which you can adhere, they must be tailored to your specific circumstance. Decide after evaluating the security of your organization's electronic protected health information (ePHI), to determine appropriate safeguard requirements. Assessments should include identifying the sources of ePHI and PHI within your organization. This should incorporate all PHI you create, receive, maintain or transmit. Make an effort to determine all external sources of PHI. Once you identify these, you'll be better positioned to recognize the human, natural, and environmental threats.
You can then develop your risk avoidance and mitigation plans. By the way, the time to do this is before a breach occurs. Putting them in place after your systems have been violated is too late. You can also carry cyber insurance as extra financial and reputational protection in case a hacker does access your records.
While you're being careful to remain in compliance with federal guidelines, keep state regulations in mind as well. In situations where it's impossible to comply with both state and federal rules, the fed's take precedence. If you're practicing in multiple states, appoint someone to ensure each office is operating in compliance with its location. Rules tend to change as new threats are identified, so ideally, this should be a dedicated position.
These three tips will help when it comes to ensuring HIPAA compliance in your medical organization. Another strong move is maintaining insurance for medical professionals, including general liability, property, business interruption, and workers' compensation coverage. CoverHound can help you find the exact policies you need, at no charge. Compare quotes with CoveHound today!
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