A simple step-by-step guide to HIPAA regulations

A single HIPAA regulations violation can cost your business up to $1.5 million. The thicket of HIPAA compliance is a gigantic labyrinth that keeps health care providers from doing what they love most -helping people.

The health care industry is coming to terms with the fact that privacy regulations are going into effect. The minimum necessary precautions are here to stay. The question that most organizations are asking is, “where do we start?”

There are numerous morphine rules and leapfrogging technologies that create a herculean task. This article highlights what HIPAA compliance is and provides you with a step-by-step guide to HIPAA regulations.

What Is HIPAA Regulations Compliance?

HIPAA compliance is defined as obeying the HHS laws that allow them to guard the Protected Health Information from leaks.

This statement is deceptive and the compliance requires organizations to follow all the standard HIPAA privacy rules and HIPAA regulations that are already in place. However, to make it even harder, there are over 500 pages of rules to comply with.

The HIPAA dictates the handling and use of information for the benefit of patients. Therefore, for health care organizations to be fully compliant, it is critical for each employee to read the rules and understand them.

While this guide will not make you compliant, it will help make the rules easier to understand.

Step #1: Have a Security and Privacy Policy

As a health care organization, the law requires you to develop, adopt, and implement privacy and security procedures and policies. You need to ensure that you have documented all the procedures, including the steps you should follow when a breach occurs.

This will help you a great deal, especially today where cybercrimes are so frequent. You must learn from history where these attacks resulted in huge data losses and fear.

Having the right protocols in place is the best way to deal with these unfortunate events. 

Step #2: Hire a Security and Privacy Officer

The next step is to name two people who have knowledge in HIPAA compliance and who can work these roles. When you are HIPAA compliant, one of the most crucial steps requires you to ensure that the data collected from patients remains secure, safe, and confidential.

Therefore, there needs to be a person who will keep tabs on this field and help set the policies in step one and implement them in the best possible way.

Step #3: Have Several Vulnerability Reviews Every Few Months

You must, on a regular basis, check and test your exposure. If there is anything missing or that you need to add, do that. You should adjust the policies frequently according to assessments and the IT environment.

Remember that your protection chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Therefore, ensure that most of them are air-tight and strong.

Only one small mistake or act of carelessness needs to happen for you to have massive problems on your hands. Remember that you are also preventing employee mistakes as much as keeping the hackers away.

Step #4: Smartphone and Email Texting Policies

Communication, both internal and to patients, needs to be secure. This can only happen with the inclusion of the PHI. HIPAA does not limit or prohibit texting and emailing.

However, it does demand that the platforms be secure.

All messages must be encrypted to protect yourself from investigations and from hackers. You do not have to worry about the encryptions taking too long; there are relatively easy and fast ways to implement them at a lower price.

Keep the patients involved by telling them that you will send their records to them through other methods other than email for added security.

Step #5: Get a Specific Mobile Policy

Mobile devices today are the most commonly used gadgets in the world. They are everywhere. Year after year, they work in all industries and have made communication easier and faster.

Each side of the health care world makes use of mobile devices to log in to Facebook, check emails, and view text messages.

It will, therefore, largely benefit your organization to use a strong policy to safeguard health data on mobile devices (both laptops and mobile phones). Mobile devices are particularly susceptible to theft.

The policy should be flexible enough to add and remove particular devices from the network.

Step #6: Make Sure That You Train the Team

Not all your team members should be tech savvies as far as HIPAA is concerned. However, it will help to have them comfortably familiar with the basic parameters of HIPAA.

There are many studies that show that the employees in health care facilities are most prone to cybercrimes because of the lack of proper protocols. Because you do not want to have a HIPAA violation blamed on you, provide all new and old employees with proper training.

Step #7: Create a Privacy Notice

Communication is key and helps you improve all other policies. Make sure you have a concise and clear privacy policy and print it out for all to see. Also, make sure that you post it on your website and in all brochures.

It should be handed out to patients and shareholders. View it as a living, breathing document and keep updating it whenever possible. Make sure your employees understand the updates and ask questions whenever necessary.

HIPAA Compliance

Now that the HIPAA regulations are clear, compliance relating to all the technical requirements should be easier. Your organization should be better prepared for the worst case of a breach.

It is a great thing to read the 500 pages of rules and make an informed decision on how to improve security and privacy. Create a list of “must-do,” and “alternatives”.

These will make your decisions easier and faster. The most crucial security protocols should be compulsory for all parties working within the organization.

Read our HIPAA security suite for information on how our services can help make your security systems safer. With more information and options, you will understand where to base your decisions.

HIPAA Security Reminders

 

HIPAA Security Suite has developed a weekly HIPAA Security Reminder series that’s FREE for all of us who are responsible for, or engaged in, the use and protection of PHI.

Pursuant to Section 164.308(a)(5) of the HIPAA Security Rule, the Standard states: Implement a security awareness and training program for all members of its workforce (including management).

This standard is part of our Best Practices Recommendations for HIPAA Security Suite users, but it’s available for FREE to anyone who wants to comply with HIPAA using the easiest, best tools available.

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