Is your healthcare practice following HIPAA?

Guidelines for following HIPAA

Person Holding Blue Pen

If your business uses health information, then it’s important to follow the regulatory body known as HIPAA. HIPAA protects the safety and security of your patients and is required for companies handling medical information.

What is HIPAA?

Written first in 1996, HIPAA stands for the “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.” The primary goal was to develop a set of regulations for protecting health information, including private and personal data. Today, it’s modernized to account for online environments.

Businesses and medical practices operating with medical data must follow these standards (sometimes referred to as following Title II). Failing to comply with these standards results in financial penalties.

Am I following HIPAA?

Even if your company has a strict set of rules in place when handling the exchange of personal data, you still may not be following HIPAA regulations. Bytagig can help by giving you a quick overview of what you need for following HIPAA.

Various rules exist and no single rule is better than the other. Following each is important to maintain regulatory standards, however. The rules are in place so that company bodies have a response to potential breaches, have standards in place to present said branches, and overall safeguard client info.

The requirements

There are three typical areas companies exchanging PHI data must address to keep in line under HIPPA: technical, physical, and administrative. These apply to any ePHI (electronic protected health information) that is stored, read, and transferred.

Technology Requirements

  • Data must meet NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) standards of security, essentially encrypted in the case of breach and/or data loss
  • Access control is required, which means users must have unique usernames and PIN codes paired with procedures detailing the release of ePHI during emergencies
  • Allow only authorized devices on networks
  • Routine audits of ePHI data

Physical/Personnel Requirements

Physical requirements deal with the transmission of records and how personnel handles them.

  • Store ePHI in data centers
  • Physical controls, which means limiting access for those who should have it in specific areas of a data center
  • Other controls like security mechanisms (scan cards, locks) when accessing sensitive areas
  • Proper maintenance of hardware (exchanging devices/servers/storage discs if compromised or damaged)

Administrative Requirements

Administration and management are responsible for assuring policies are followed while establishing new guidelines when necessary. “Officers” for maintaining these policies are a crucial part of following HIPAA.

  • Officers must conduct routine risk assessments to compile weak points in cybersecurity infrastructure and/or potential HIPAA violations
  • Sanctions and penalties must be deployed for staff failing to meet criteria of HIPAA guidelines as set by officers
  • Training staff appropriately to follow HIPAA guidelines
  • Backup and contingency plans must be in place for emergency scenarios
  • Preventing third-parties from accessing sensitive files related to ePHI

These are the primary tenets that must be followed to ensure you’re properly following HIPAA standards and requirements. Again, failing to do so can result in financial penalties and other regulatory headaches.

Still having trouble? Want more assistance? You can contact Bytagig for more info on safely managing HIPAA rules.

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