Every practice and business that carries out healthcare-related activities should have heard of HIPAA. Even though it has been over 20 years since the establishment of this federal law, one question remains very common. Whichever social media platform healthcare professionals browse through, they see one or two people asking about- HIPAA compliance, what is it and why does it matter? Similarly like the people asking the question, some healthcare professionals struggle to provide a proper answer.
What is HIPAA?
HIPAA compliance, what is it and why does it matter? To understand this question we need to understand the purpose and the importance of the law known as HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was primarily established to address one particular issue: insurance coverage for workers who switch or leave jobs. Without HIPAA, workers could not transfer insurance coverage when they were between jobs.
HIPAA is now best known for protecting the privacy and health information of the patients. It ensures that all Protected Health Information (PHI) is appropriately secured and restricts access to health data to authorized individuals only, thus, preventing healthcare frauds. It covers how healthcare providers and business associates should handle patients’ sensitive data and protect their health information, and sets the benchmark that is needed to ensure PHI is being stored, handled, and accessed correctly at all times.
What is HIPAA compliance?
HIPAA compliance simply means that the HIPAA-covered entities and business associates are following the sets of rules and regulations set out by law. HIPAA compliance should be a continuous process where the program must be properly developed, monitored, and maintained. By following the rules that HIPAA mandates, organizations can better protect a patient’s information and their privacy as well as the physical spaces and devices that contain PHI.
The requirements for HIPAA compliance:
This checklist provides a baseline for processes that an organization should be following to maintain compliance:
- Performing Self-Audits
- Having a remediation plan in place
- Developing and implementing policies, procedures, and employee training
- Business Associate Management
- Incident Management
Check out the complete guide on the requirements of HIPAA compliance.
Why is HIPAA compliance important?
Being HIPAA compliant has several advantages for healthcare organizations as well as patients. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) advised that HIPAA compliance is crucial as more healthcare providers and entities dealing with PHI move towards computerized operations, including Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) system, Electronic Health Records (EHR), pharmacy, and even laboratory systems. While electrical processes increase efficiency, it also increases the risks to the security of healthcare data. Following the HIPAA Rules will ensure that organizations put in place appropriate safeguards to protect patients’ healthcare data. At the same time, it will allow organizations to adopt new technologies to improve quality as well as the efficiency of patient care.
A break of the rules and regulations can result in severe consequences. On some occasions it may even lead to a HIPAA violation. HIPAA violation fines and penalties range from $100 to $50,000 per record, and in extreme cases upto $1.5 million per year for each violation. By properly adhering to the HIPAA rules and regulations, organizations are more readily able to avoid consequences which may lead to a HIPAA violation.
Arguably, the greatest benefit of HIPAA compliance is for patients. A patients’ PHI is rich in information and highly desired by criminals and cyber attackers. Now and then we hear news of healthcare data breaches which ultimately lead to medical identity thefts. While preventing medical identity theft has become a whole lot easier, preventing healthcare data breaches should come first. By implementing proper safeguard measures healthcare providers, health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and business associates of HIPAA-covered entities can ensure that a patient’s sensitive personal and health information is well protected.
Manage all the required tasks with HIPAAReady
One of the major purposes of HIPAA is to ensure efficiency in the healthcare industry. With HIPAA Ready, you will be able to able to easily implement the HIPAA compliance requirements.
CloudApper’s HIPAA Ready is a cloud-based HIPAA compliance software where you can centrally manage and monitor all the tasks that are required to be compliant with HIPAA. It is a platform where you can perform self-audits, carry out incident management, and store important documents. With HIPAA Ready you will no longer have to ask: HIPAA compliance, what is it?