How To Become HIPAA Compliant

HIPAA Compliance Icon Medical Graphic
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a legislation of the United States that ensures data security of all medical information for individuals. 

Today, the top healthcare organizations’ concern is compliance with HIPAA (Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). HIPAA rules are meant to secure protected health information (PHI), whether electronic or manual. In order to achieve HIPAA compliance, healthcare institutes and professionals must follow guidelines that will ensure the security and protection of their patients. If you are not sure about the rules, engage the Chief Information Security Office for review.

HIPAA Compliant – A Checklist

HIPAA rules and regulations have changed over the years causing healthcare organizations to face many challenges. Its complex language has often created a hindrance which makes it hard for organizations to determine if their activities are maintained properly according to HIPAA compliance. Healthcare organizations must address some specific rules by HIPAA, which are as follows:

  • HIPAA Privacy Rule
  • HIPAA Security Rule
  • HIPAA Enforcement Rule
  • HIPAA Breach Notification Rule

HIPAA Privacy Rule

The HIPAA Privacy rule ensures that an individual’s healthcare information is properly protected, which inclues all medical records and personal information (healthcare plans, insurance, and financial). The goal is to provide security while allowing secure access to healthcare practitioners, but not without a patient’s authorization. The rule is to balance the disclosure of information and protect the privacy of an individual. According to the HIPAA Privacy Rule, patients have full rights over their medical information, which means they can obtain their medical records or request a correction.

HIPAA Security Rule

The HIPAA Security Rule has set the national principles to safeguard electronic health information of an individual as declared under the privacy rule. The Security Rule ensures the reliability, security, and confidentiality of the electronic PHI. Three types of safety measures fall under HIPAA Security Rule: Physical protection, Technical protection, Administrative protection.

Physical Protection

Limited Access to Facility – The organization must limit the physical access to its amenities and ensure that only authorized personnel are allowed in the facility.

Workstation security – The organization must implement strict policies and procedures for the use of electronic devices at the workstation. A covered entity must record all activities of hardware including people responsible for transferring or moving data.

Technical Protection

Access Control – The organization must allow only authorized personnel to access electronic PHI. Any removal of e-PHI from the system must be examined ensuring that it is properly altered or destroyed.

Audit Control – All hardware and software activities must be recorded and examined ensuring that there is no data theft or misuse of the information. It is the organization’s responsibility that only authorized people have access to the information.

Administrative Protection

Security Officials – The organization must entitle a security official for implementing policies and procedures.

Training Management – The organization must train all of its employees and brief them on the security measures of e-PHI and consequences of violating any policies and procedures.

Assessment – The organization is responsible to assess all its security measures and how well they are being followed. Organizations must be consistent with the rules by limiting disclosure of e-PHI to a minimum. Only authorized personnel should have access to the information.

HIPAA Enforcement Rule

The HIPAA Enforcement Rule requires enforcement of the Privacy Rule by all healthcare organizations. If any organization fails to comply with HIPAA, they must face penalties. There are several ways the OCR implements the Privacy and Security Rules:

  • Investigation of complaints
  • Determining whether healthcare organizations are in compliance with HIPAA
  • Educate organizations and provide substitute compliance if required

HIPAA Breach Notification Rule

Any organization that allows disclosure of healthcare information without authorization, under any circumstances, will be convicted of violating HIPAA rules. If the organization discovers a breach of information, they must notify the secretary right away.

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