A Complete Guide to HIPAA Compliance

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In the world of digitalization, every single piece of information is available online. When there is so much information online, it creates a risk of getting into the wrong hands. The same goes for healthcare organizations and health insurance companies. It becomes very difficult to protect the information from breaches when it is online. Government authorities often bring up some guidelines and provisions for the safety and security of the common man. HIPAA compliance is one such provision that makes sure that the patient’s health information is kept safe and away from the reach of malpractitioners.  Healthcare organizations and insurance companies need to adhere to the guidelines to be functional. Often it becomes difficult for organizations to check whether they are compliant with the guidelines or not. Hence, they can go for audits that are performed by HIPAA compliance audit company.  

Significance of HIPAA Compliance 

HIPAA guidelines are regulated by the Department of Health & Human Services and enforced by the Officer of Civil Rights. These guidelines ensure that all the information of patients that is disclosed, generated or stored by any organization, should be under strict security controls. HIPAA is a culture that organizations must apply to maintain the privacy and integrity of patient’s health information. Patients’ health information is very sensitive data that could be used to manipulate or harass the patient. It is very crucial for organizations that health information is kept safe and away from the hands of hackers.  

HIPAA Compliance Checklist 

Any compliance or guidelines is not easy to adhere to. There are multiple factors that they might need to keep in mind. Missing out on any single provision would lead to non-compliance. That is why it is recommended to hire professionals from a HIPAA compliance audit company who will make sure that you are in adherence with all the required guidelines. However, if an organization wants to check the compliance themselves, they can go for the HIPAA compliance checklist that comprises of the requirements for an organization to be HIPAA compliant.  

Here are some of the key points that one should keep in mind while checking for compliance: 

  • The most important thing is to understand whether your organization needs to comply with the HIPAA guidelines or not. 
  • If you need to comply with the privacy and security rules, appoint individual officers. 
  • You should conduct an audit to determine the collection and storage of PHI. 
  • You will also need to keep track of how it is shared with business associates. 
  • Minimize the number of record sets to easily manage and protect PHI. 
  • Make sure that you follow all the physical, administrative and technical safeguards. 
  • Precautions should be taken to get notified instantly about any data breach. 
  • Stay up to date regarding any changes in the HIPAA as well as any regulatory changes in the guidelines. 

It is always advised to go for professional help if you have any doubts about your organization’s compliance.
HIPAA Compliance Safeguards 

HIPAA compliance consists of three kinds of safeguards: 

Technical Safeguards 

The technical safeguards are a list of rules for the behavior of the application in certain situations.  

  • User Identification: Every individual user must have a unique identity and proper authentication. 
  • Emergency Access Procedure: In case of an emergency the ePHI should be obtained easily. 
  • Automatic Logoff: One should implement such procedures that will terminate a session after a predetermined time of inactivity. 
  • Authentication: There should be procedures to determine the identity of any person seeking ePHI. 
  • Encryption and Decryption: There should be a mechanism to encrypt and decrypt ePHI. 

Physical Safeguards 

Physical safeguards are a list of rules that cover the policies, procedures and the physical measures to protect the covered entity’s electronic health information systems as well as the related buildings and hardware.  

  • Incidental Operations: There should be a protocol to follow in case of natural hazards for the protection of ePHI of the patients.  
  • Facility Security: This is important to prevent unauthorized access, theft or the destruction of any devices in the facility. 
  • Access Control Procedures: Any individual who has access to the facility should be authorized to do so. The lesser people have access to the facility, the lesser the chance of a system breach. 
  • Disposal: When any kind of information is not required, it should be disposed of from each and every point. Negligence in this could result in mishandling of the patient’s health information.  
  • Accountability: A clear record of all the movement and maintenance of hardware should be maintained. 
  • Workstation Security: Safeguarding the access of ePHI to only authorized users and restricting it to all potential unauthorized users. 

Administrative Safeguards 

Administrative safeguards refer to the training and background checks of the staff. It also covers administrative actions such as policy making and procedures to efficiently handle the selection or implementation of the guidelines. 

Here are some of the standards that fall under the category of administrative guidelines: 

  • Security Management: Under the security management process, any HIPAA compliant organization needs to do its risk assessment and analysis to ensure that they have a strong strategy to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of ePHI. 
  • Security Responsibility: The organization is responsible for the Identification and authorization of the security official who is responsible for the development and implementation of the policies and procedures. 
  • Workforce Security: These standards highlight that only those employees who work directly with ePHI will have access to it.  
  • Security Awareness and Training: There should be proper password policies, anti-phishing training and basic cyber hygiene lessons for the authorities who are responsible for the safety of ePHI. 

Bottom Line  

The above mentioned are the safeguards that are important to implement while complying with HIPAA guidelines. However, if you are still confused whether your organization is compliant with the policies or not, you should seek professional help.  

Cyber Cops is a well-known and renowned HIPAA compliance audit company. They are experts in the field of digital safety. They will make sure that you do not miss out on any compliance provisions. Because they are professionals, they are always up to date with the latest guideline changes and will update you regarding the same.  

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