Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
Privacy is deeply-rooted in every human. This is especially true when it concerns the health data of a patient. Therefore, through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, the U.S. federal government requires that every business or entity that directly works with sensitive health data mask it from leakage.
Therefore, if you operate a clinic or a business that requires you to be HIPAA compliant, it’s important to review whether every checkbox of the compliance requirements is checked. Besides, you don’t want to cause havoc for your organization by paying the hefty fines imposed by OCR or paying for expensive litigation if you get sued after a breach has occurred.
It’s also vital to note that you cannot claim to not know about HIPAA when your entity falls under those required to comply. Therefore, you have no excuse when it comes to HIPAA compliance. And OCR (Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services) won’t hesitate to fine you whether your non-compliant status is due to ignorance or negligence.
What is HIPAA Compliance?
HIPPA is a U.S. federal law that requires the protection of sensitive patient health data (commonly referred to as Protected Health Information or PHI) by all entities handling, storing, or transmitting it. PHI is any patient information that’s attached to their identity, such as name, addresses, Social Security number, phone/mobile numbers, financial data, medical records, biometric data (e.g., a photo), etc. Typically, HIPAA compliance requires any company dealing with PHI or ePHI to implement physical, network, and process security standards or measures and strictly follow them to ensure compliance.
How to Know if I Need to be HIPAA Compliant
The HIPAA regulation has classified two types of organizations that usually deal with PHI and thus need to be compliant:
- Covered Entities: If your organization gathers, creates, maintains, or transmits PHI electronically, then you’re under a covered entity category. These include; health care providers, clearinghouses, and health insurance providers with a few exceptions, such as health care providers outsourced by a covered entity.
- Business Associate: This is any organization that, in one way or the other, will access, transmit, or manipulate PHI in its course of work as contracted by a covered entity. These may include billing companies, cloud/physical storage companies, consultants, attorneys, IT providers, accounting firms, email hosting services, etc.
- HIPAA Privacy Rule: Only applies to covered entities and stipulates the rights of the patient to access PHI and the rights of the provider to deny the same.
- HIPAA Security Rule: Sets national-wide standards of how PHI should be stored, maintained, transmitted, and processed.
- HIPAA Breach Notification Rule: Indicates the standards that should be followed in the event there is a breach of PHI.
- HIPAA Omnibus Rule: This contains rules surrounding business associate compliance and how to come up with Business Associate Agreements (BAAs).
Your HIPAA Compliance Checklist
- Annual self-audits
- Remediation plans
- Policies, measures, and employee training
- Business associate management
- Incident response and management
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There is a lot you need to know about HIPAA. Contact us today to learn how to be compliant, stress-free!