The world of technology continues to change the way we do business. As more medical practices turn to online form completion and advanced medical records databases, it is important to assess your HIPPA compliance efforts. HIPPA compliance is an important part of any medical practice.
Healthcare organizations are required, by law, to comply with HIPPA regulations. If you are found to be in violation of HIPPA compliance, you can face civil and criminal penalties and run the risk of losing your medical practice all together. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act continues to make amendments to adapt to the way we share patient information. So, what steps should your medical practice take to ensure you maintain HIPPA compliance as technology continues to advance?
Develop a Privacy Plan
With the addition of the Security Rule and Breach Notification Rule, medical providers are required to ensure that everyone involved in the exchange of patient information is compliant with HIPPA regulations. The best way to tackle this addition to the HIPPA compliance act is to adopt and implement a security policy that is inclusive.
Ensure that all your employees receive appropriate training regarding your policies. Make sure to run frequent quality assurance checks to make sure all your employees are up-to-date with their training. Because mobile app developers and hosting services providers are now involved with medical practices, require training from your third-party vendors as well.
Hire a Security Staff
HIPPA can be complicated. Therefore, there is a great benefit to hiring a dedicated staff who focuses strictly on your compliance procedures. Hire one or two employees who have knowledge of the HIPPA federal statute. Put them in charge of adapting new policies, training employees, and monitoring compliance. Your security staff should perform risk assessments to evaluate your security measures and identify any gaps in your security policies. This will reduce the risk of a breach and correct any issues.
Create an Audit Schedule
Your team should continually check and test your policies and procedures. When you work proactively with HIPPA compliance, you can avoid costly violations and damaging security breaches. Create a regular schedule that performs internal audits. Document regular audits and identify changes implemented to your policies and procedures. When changes have been made, be sure to notify employees and patients effectively.
Have Specific E-Mail Policies
Unless you are working on a secure server, e-mail is not generally a safe way to communicate. Patient information should not be exchanged via e-mail. But, just in case, be sure your internal e-mail system is encrypted. Document your encryption efforts to protect your medical practice.
Create Ongoing Training Platforms
Your employee and vendor training for HIPPA-related security policies and procedures should not be a one-time class. Refresher courses and continuing education should be implemented for all employees and vendors. Since violations can have legal, financial, and reputational repercussions, it is important to invest in employee and vendor training to avoid the risk of costly violations. Be sure all training and employee completion is documented properly.
Understand Requirements for Breach Notifications
HIPPA requires very specific steps that should be taken in the event of a data breach. Understand the Breach Notification Rule. Know what constitutes a breach, how to avoid it, and what documentation you need to limit the impact of a breach on your business.
Check HIPPA Compliance with Your Business Associates
All vendors and business associates you deal with are also required to follow HIPPA regulations. Be sure those you do business with follow and implement HIPPA regulations. Have them produce the proper documentation needed to prove their compliance, training, and auditing procedures.
HIPPA Compliance is one of the most important practices required of medical and healthcare professionals. As technology continues to change the way we exchange patient information, maintaining your HIPPA compliance takes commitment. Minimize your risk of non-compliance by developing the right policies and procedures to protect your business. When you create an effective system for HIPPA compliance, you can save your business costly fines, legal action, and damage to your reputation and business.