Last year healthcare providers across the country paid right around $12 million for HIPAA violations.
These types of privacy violations are one of the biggest threats to the financial success of any healthcare provider Luckily, most HIPAA violations can be completely avoided with the right systems and procedures in place.
We’ve compiled a list of the best tricks to streamline your HIPAA compliance, making it as easy as possible for your practice to be completely secure.
Standardize Employee Training
No matter what type of business you’re running, if you’re trying to meet any goal as a team the first thing you need to take care of is employee training.
This is especially true when medical organizations are trying to stay completely HIPAA compliant. There are so many factors covered by the HIPAA privacy laws, it’s important to give your team the best shot at succeeding through thorough education.
Under HIPAA guidelines there are some regulations that are almost common sense, they’re easy to remember and follow.
But there are others that are more obscure that can be very difficult to remember. Especially when you have a whole host of things to remember for your job (both HIPAA related and not).
When an employee is first hired on they should be given a full overview, with specific examples, of how they need to be HIPAA compliant.
They should then receive periodic updates and extended training to make sure every base is covered and all aspects of the practice are compliant.
Utilize HIPAA Consultants
One of the best ways to bring more education on proper HIPAA reporting practices is through an outside consultant.
These professionals have a very deep understanding of the rules and regulations of HIPAA. They have spent a lot of time researching the most common pitfalls of healthcare providers and how they can be avoided.
Not only is a HIPAA consultant great at educating an entire team, but they can also help to set up the procedures for the practice as well.
The consultant can take a broad look at your practice as a whole, (HIPAA documentation, electronic files storage and distribution, and HIPAA reporting). This will allow them to either suggest potential changes or develop an entirely new strategy.
Creating a HIPAA compliant environment is crucial to the success of any healthcare practice. Bringing in an expert with an outside perspective can give you the tools you need to get set up right.
Regular System Checks
Unfortunately, compliance in HIPAA reporting isn’t something that you can set up once and be done. It takes constant vigilance and effort to keep your practice safe and secure. Every practice should be performing regular check-ups on their security systems and procedures.
Experts suggest that you run overall system checks every week and more in-depth, thorough system tests at least twice a year.
Keeping up with regularly analyzing your system will allow you to mitigate any problems that do arise as quickly as possible. This can save healthcare practices money as they avoid lawsuits from patients with violated privacy.
In these system checks, you should be looking for vulnerabilities and potential danger zones.
But it’s also helpful to see what areas are working well. Analyzing why areas work so well can help you implement those points into other areas of your business for even more productivity.
As with most problems, catching HIPAA violations quickly to stop further problems is crucial. Keeping tabs on how things are going is the best way to do that.
Implement Automated Systems
We’d all like to think that HIPAA violations are exclusive to hackers and cybersecurity issues. But they often happen because of human error and are caused by the providers (whether intentionally or not).
Eliminating human error is a huge factor in streamlining HIPAA compliance and making it as easy as possible to stay within the guidelines.
The best way to do that is by implementing as many automated systems within the practice as possible. This is especially true for the documentation and storage of patient files.
There are a lot of automation options available depending on what your practice is looking for specifically, which is another reason working with a consultant is helpful.
The consultant can point you in the right direction for which areas you need the most help with and where automation may work best. They’ll be able to point out the vulnerabilities and come up with solutions to eliminate the potential of a breach.
Designate a HIPAA Compliance Manager
Most medical organizations have more than one administrator helping to lead the whole team. In theory that is great to have all of the help and support but it can cause problems when roles and responsibilities aren’t outlined clearly.
Designating a HIPAA compliance manager to be the go-to person for all things HIPAA related keeps things from getting lost in translation.
The regulations are continually changing and can be hard to keep up with. When that is one person’s responsibility they’ll be more likely to be thorough instead of thinking someone else will handle it.
There is less confusion around what needs done specifically as well. Everyone knows who to go to with their questions and one person is making the decisions.
This person will be the one in communication with the HIPAA consultant as well, allowing everything to be more streamlined and organized.
HIPAA Tricks for Any Healthcare Provider
When you’re a healthcare provider, your top priority is providing your patients with the highest quality care you can. And that always includes proper HIPAA compliance and reporting.
Following the set guidelines allows your patients to feel as safe and secure as possible to get the treatment they need to be healthy. It can seem like a hassle to make sure you’re staying within the rules, but setting up good systems makes the whole process a breeze.
If you’re interested in checking out how your practice stacks up against HIPAA standards and ways you can do better, contact us today for a consultation!