The protection of both patients’ and users’ medical data is a top priority for government organizations.
HIPAA, a federal law that protects sensitive patient health information, made protecting sensitive data possible.
In order to avoid financial and legal consequences, medical entities need to make sure they comply with this federal law.
Being non-compliant could lead to drastic financial and reputational damage for medical companies.
If this is something that interests your entity, then keep reading. In this article, we’ll explain how medical businesses can stay HIPAA compliant in 2022.
Let’s get right to it.
What is HIPAA and What is its Purpose?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 is a federal law that required the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.
What is the HIPAA Privacy Rule? What are the Patients’ Rights?
The HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes national standards for securing individuals’ medical records and other individually identifiable health information.
In other words, it restricts and limits the use and disclosure of the patient’s health information, as well as requiring certain rights to be respected.
Among the rights that individuals have under HIPAA Privacy Rule are:
- The right to receive a notice of privacy practices.
- The right to access, examine and get a copy of their health records.
- The right to direct a covered entity to transmit to a third party an electronic copy of their protected health information in an electronic health record.
- The right to request corrections.
- The right to access a minor child’s medical records.
What Entities are Subject to the HIPAA Privacy Rule?
The HIPAA Privacy Rule applies to the following examples of individuals and organizations:
- Healthcare providers. Healthcare providers that electronically transmit health information in connection with certain transactions.
- Health plans. Organizations that provide or pay for medical care. Among health plans are health, dental, vision, prescription drug insurers, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and long-term care health insurance.
- Healthcare clearinghouses. Entities that process nonstandard information they receive from another entity into a standard (i.e., standard format or data content), or vice versa.
- Business associates. Persons or organizations (other than employees or agents of a covered entity) that use or disclose personally identifiable health information on behalf of the covered entity.
Common HIPAA Violations Your Medical Business Should Avoid
Some common HIPAA violations include the following actions:
- Discussing the health status of patients with friends and family.
- Using unsecure home computers to access patient data. This is because it is easier to hack a home computer than it is to steal the password of a medical software system and extract sensitive data.
- Insufficient training. The absence of training for your medical staff to observe and be compliant with HIPAA could result in breaches and financial and legal consequences.
Non-Compliance with HIPAA: Consequences
Those who violate HIPAA Rules willfully are subject to a $50,000 fine. A HIPAA violation can result in a maximum criminal penalty of $250,000 per individual.
It may also be necessary to pay restitution to the victims. In addition to the financial penalty, a criminal violation of HIPAA rules may result in incarceration.
Why Your Medical Business Needs to Comply with HIPAA
You need to make sure your medical business complies with HIPAA for many reasons. Below are a few of the most relevant ones.
Avoid heavy legal and financial consequences
One of the first advantages of being HIPAA compliant is that your business won’t be subject to the financial or legal repercussions that occur in the event of a HIPAA breach.
We have already seen how these consequences can be quite heavy for your company and can lead to its instability, and depending on the extent, even its decline.
Establish a professional and trustworthy reputation
Showing your patient or client how serious you are about HIPAA compliance and making sure you do everything possible to comply will give them a sense of trustworthiness and professionalism, as well as make them want to do business with you.
It will strengthen your reputation, and you’ll gain authority within your niche.
Attract investors and strategic partners
As you become more professional in your clients’ eyes, investors and other businesses will also begin to view your medical business differently. In turn, they will be more inclined to invest in your company and partner with you, giving you more capital and exposure.
If you want to prevent your medical business from experiencing any of the consequences outlined above, which may damage its financial stability, you will need to take some essential steps.
We have listed some of the best steps you can take in 2022 to reduce your risk of a data breach.
Following that, ensure that all employees receive the appropriate training and conduct frequent quality assurance checks to ensure the policies are being followed.
2. Put together a dedicated security team
Particularly if your medical business is large and you handle a lot of patients’ information and sensitive data, then you might need to hire a dedicated team to handle the secure data storage and manage all the patients’ requests efficiently.
Some of the responsibilities of a dedicated security staff member might include:
- Creating, managing, and enforcing the Security Rules and any other rules issued by Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
- Preparing plans for disaster recovery, incident response, and access controls.
- Providing assistance in third-party audits, especially with respect to business associates and vendors.
- Embedding IT security and HIPAA compliance within the organization’s business strategies.
- Investigating data breaches and implementing measures to prevent future breaches.
As soon as you identify the dedicated security team, you must limit access to protected health information to that team only. So, you can avoid mishandling of data, as well as possible HIPAA violations.
3. Use medical forms template to collect patient information in a secure way
You can use a medical forms template to collect patient information in a quick and secure way at your clinic, hospital, or other healthcare entity.
There are a variety of medical form templates on the web you can use that can simplify the creation process and make each form HIPAA-compliant.
Form builders like 123 Form Builder allow you to edit the default templates and customize them according to your preferences and needs by simply dragging and dropping questions, which can be Likert scales, text fields, checkboxes, and many other types of data.
As soon as you finish creating it, you’ll be able to embed it easily on your website.
4. Implement and use a HIPAA compliance software
Typically, HIPAA compliant software is an all-in-one application or service that includes all the privacy and security safeguards needed to meet the requirements of HIPAA. This includes secure messaging, hosting, and secure cloud storage services.
Consequently, using software enables you to automate some tasks and speed up some processes while ensuring that you are compliant and will not face unpleasant consequences. It would be helpful if you were to learn about the Print to Fax driver. This program can be installed on any Windows Desktop and simulates a System printer to allow any program to send a fax.
5. Establish and maintain an internal auditing process
In the event that your organization is selected at random for a HIPAA audit, you should prepare for your own internal audits.
HIPAA does not specify a specific number of internal audits, so quarterly checks should suffice. Ensure your internal audits are documented and whether or not your policies and procedures need to be changed.
6. Ensure to always backup all the patient records
HIPAA requires all entities subject to the law to create and maintain retrievable exact copies of electronic PHI.
In this sense, you should make sure to keep a backup of all the patient records. Additionally, electronic PHI must be stored at a separate location from the original data store and should be encrypted to meet HIPAA security standards.
7. Be aware of breach notification requirements
In the event of a data breach, you must follow a very specific protocol that describes what steps you must take.
By reading the Breach Notification Rule, you can gain a better understanding of what constitutes a breach, what steps you can take to avoid one, and even what documentation you need to prove the limited impact of a breach in order to minimize the business impact.
This concludes our article on how medical companies can stay HIPAA compliant in 2022.
As we have seen in this article, compliance with HIPAA is necessary in order to avoid legal and financial consequences and other types of repercussions, such as a terrible reputation.
Following that, we listed some steps your business should take to prevent any breaches and avoid legal issues.
We appreciate you taking the time to read this blog post. We hope you found it informative and helpful.
About the Author:
Flavia Silipo is a skilled SEO copywriter and digital marketing specialist with over two years of experience. You can find her on LinkedIn.