HIPAA compliance can be a complex, strenuous process that even the biggest organizations may have compliance issues. Many organizations are still searching for answers to the question of how to become HIPAA compliant. This article will focus on 5 tips that can help you become HIPAA Compliant.
What you need to know about HIPAA
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, has established rules and regulations which need to be followed for the safety of healthcare information. These rules and regulations need to be followed by healthcare organizations – namely covered entities and business associates.
Protected health information (PHI), refers to a patient’s healthcare information which falls under the jurisdiction of HIPAA. It refers to any sort of information that can help identify patients, for instance, a patient’s name, Social Security Number, address, medical records, photo, and so on.
Who needs to become HIPAA compliant?
There are two types of organizations that need to be HIPAA compliant – covered entities and business associates. Healthcare providers, health insurance plans, and healthcare clearinghouses fall under covered entities, and organizations that deal with PHI during their work with covered entities, make up business associates. For example, IT services providers, billing companies, and shredding services are just a few of the many business associates who need to be HIPAA compliant.
The major HIPAA rules
While there are numerous rules and regulations healthcare organizations need to follow to ensure HIPAA compliance, this is a condensed version of the prominent rules:
- HIPAA Privacy Rule: It establishes standards about the usage and disclosure of protected health information, and is only applicable for covered entities.
- HIPAA Security Rule: It provides the standards for ensuring the security and integrity of PHI as well as ePHI, which is the electronic form of PHI. The Security Rule needs to be followed by both covered entities and business associates, especially if they are sharing sensitive patient information.
- Omnibus Rule: This makes HIPAA compliance mandatory for business associates. Previously, only covered entities needed to be compliant. It also established the standards for Business Associate Agreements (BAAs), which is mandatory if the organizations need to share PHI.
- HIPAA Breach Notification Rule: It sets the policies which both covered entities and business associates must follow in the case of a data breach. For instance, the affected organization must notify the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) within 60 days of the end of the calendar year in which the event occurred, provided that it affected less than 500 patients. In the cases of breaches affecting over 500 individuals, the affected organization needs to notify HHS within 60 days from detecting the breach.
That was a lot of information covered, right? Well, that’s what HIPAA is like. It has layers of rules and regulations which must be followed to ensure that PHI is protected.
Here are some tips that can help you with HIPAA compliance management:
Tips which can help you become HIPAA compliant
Tip #1: Self-audits are a must. HIPAA mandates organizations to conduct yearly audits to evaluate if any administrative, physical, or technical issues might violate compliance. While such assessments are not enough to be HIPAA compliant, it can help you identify areas that need attention.
Tip #2: Once you have identified any weaknesses, you can put measures in place to rectify the deficiencies, to comply with HIPAA compliance conditions.
Tip #3: It is an absolute requirement that you provide your employees with training to help them understand HIPAA regulations. Such training will need to demonstrate how crucial it is to comply with HIPAA regulations, and as your employees are frontline, they need to understand HIPAA laws more than anybody else.
Tip #4: You also need to ensure that all your HIPAA documents are in one place as often organizations are not able to readily produce documents when HIPAA audits are taking place.
Tip #5: Using solutions that simplify HIPAA compliance is essential and this is where HIPAA Ready comes in. It is a HIPAA compliance software that helps streamline HIPAA compliance for your organization. It can help you report and keep track of incidents, provide you with a digital checklist to keep track of tasks, schedule training, and also keep policies and procedures which are necessary documents for your organization so that employees can check it whenever necessary – all in one single application!