When it comes to medical information, security is key. However, with the increase of digital health, more medical data is being stored online and in “the cloud”.
While electronic records make managing patient information easier, it also creates the opportunity for security breaches.
Not only that, but even small errors can expose an individual’s private health details. If that happens, there may be serious consequences. To learn more and the HIPAA policy, take a look at the content below.
What Is the HIPAA Confidentiality Policy?
HIPAA is a federal law that safeguards the privacy and security of health information. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) enforces the law.
It was passed in 1996 and was updated in 2013 to comprise of several HIPAA regulations. Regulatory rules of the HIPAA policy define the obligations of regulated institutions and the consequences for non-compliance.
To comply, an entity must follow all of the regulatory rules. If an organization is regulated, HIPAA mandates that they do the following:
- Control the use of regulated internal data
- Decide how to properly disclose information externally
- Manage information security and risk with formal policies and internal control
- Investigate and respond to security mishaps and potential breaches of regulated information
The Purpose of HIPAA Policies and Procedures
The HIPAA policy and its compliance ensures that private information is securely protected. It’s the duty of covered entities to protect sensitive data and make sure that it does not get out.
HIPAA regulations put a system of safeguards on covered entities. It also allows patients to manage the use of their personal information.
HIPAA compliance guarantees that only authorized users are able to access protected data.
By doing so, it reduces the chance of security breaches. Plus, it minimizes the potential exposure of personal details.
In other words, HIPAA helps to shield an individual’s personal information from others. For instance, if a patient has an illness that they don’t want anyone to know about, is their right to keep it private.
It’s also the organization’s duty to ensure that their health information stays secure.
What Institutions Must Be HIPAA Compliant?
Covered entities must comply with HIPAA to protect the privacy of health information. The below organizations should follow HIPAA policy:
Doctor’s offices, dentists, chiropractors, nursing homes, psychologist, clinics, and pharmacies must all be HIPAA compliant if they transfer information electronically regarding any transactions that are HHS standard.
Clearinghouses process health information for medical billing services. They also work with repricing companies and medical management information systems.
Therefore they must follow HIPAA rules and regulations.
The following programs must be HIPAA compliant:
- Health insurance providers
- Company Health Plans
- Veteran Programs
What Information Does HIPAA Protect?
Health information that is individually identifiable is considered protected health information (PHI) according to HHS. Under the HIPAA policy statement, protected health information includes the following:
- An individual’s past, present, or future physical or mental state of health
- The plan to take care of that individual’s health
- The past, present, or future payment for the individual’s healthcare provision
- Identifying information that’s linked to an individual or presumed to identify an individual.
What Happens If an Organization Isn’t HIPAA-Compliant?
HIPAA confidentiality breach ranges from divulging encrypted data to unintentional employee mistakes. A HIPAA violation can fine a covered entity up to $50,000 per violation.
Not only that, but a violation can also damage the reputation of an organization. If sensitive information gets out, it exposes the private medical data of dozens of people.
What Harm Can a Health Data Breach Cause?
When a patient’s private medical information gets out, there are two primary consequences:
Stolen Information: A person’s medical records include their name, date of birth, social security number, and more. If that information gets in the wrong hands, it might be grounds for identity theft or access to bank records.
Exploitation: A person’s health information could also exploit them. A criminal may threaten to expose an illness they have or use it as a form of ransom.
Who Should Understand HIPAA?
To ensure that medical records remain confidential, multiple parties must understand HIPAA compliance. Every sector of the health industry is required to comply, including:
Health insurance companies are required to keep medical information secure. They have to manage many healthcare records as part of their business operation. Therefore, protecting patient information is necessary.
IT providers must also be informed about HIPAA rules and guidelines. Many health records are handled through IT, so they must know how to act accordingly.
Medical institutions are at the biggest risk for fines due to violations. If an employee makes an error or any other mishap occurs, there could be major consequences. Everyone involved should understand HIPAA guidelines and routine protocol should be followed.
Patients should know about HIPAA too. It helps them to understand their rights and how they are to be treated. Furthermore, it educates them so they can recognize HIPAA violations.
Privacy and HIPAA Policy Compliance Made Easy
Hopefully, this information about the HIPAA policy helps you. Understanding the importance of compliance helps to prevent mishaps. Unfortunately, there are still occurrences that can cause a health data breach, and it’s a lot to keep up with.
If your organization needs health data protection, we have the tools. HIPAA Security Suite provides numerous services from IT support to staff training.
To get more information on how we can assist you, feel free to contact us. We are here to help in any way possible.