Posts

Patient Health Records folder with Confidential and HIPAA stamps
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a law that ensures the protection of patient data. Institutions that use patient information must ensure complete protection of medical information about a patient. The HIPAA is placed to ensure complete data privacy; the act enforces companies to take safety measures for protected health information (PHI) and abide by  HIPAA compliance.

HIPAA compliance is for every institution that provides treatment including payments and performing different functions associated with healthcare. It includes businesses directly involved in dealing with patient information including the payments mentioned in bookkeeping, patient history, and the treatment information which all must be under HIPAA compliance.

HIPAA Privacy and Security

HIPAA, known as the Standards for Privacy for Individually Identifiable Health Information, is used to establish national standards for the protection of certain health information. Similarly, the Security Rule is used to maintain a specific set of standards associated with health information transferred in electronic form. The rule addresses the technical and non-technical safeguards that institutions must put in place to secure all electronic information about a patient.

The Office of the Civil Rights within HHS is responsible to ensure data protection of a medical organization. The OCR officer enforces institutions to comply with the Privacy and Security Rules with voluntary compliance including civil monetary penalties.

Why do Companies Need HIPAA Compliance?

Health care institutions and other companies working with Protected Health Information usually move their database from a traditional system to an online-computerized system. An online system includes a computerized physician order entity (CPOE), an electronic health record or EHR, laboratory systems, radiology, and pharmacy.

Today, with so many data breaches by hackers worldwide, compliance with HIPAA is a necessity. Medical information is crucial for not just hospitals and laboratories but patient information is also useful for health insurance companies. These companies pay for treatments based on the health plan a patient has opted for. Self-service applications and healthcare management companies have to adhere to the HIPAA law; a non-compliance with the act would lead to penalties and hefty fines for any kind of data breach.

The Security Rule under the HIPAA policy is used to protect every piece of information about a patient around the U.S. The Security Rule is effective in protecting patient data while allowing companies to use new and improved technologies for improving the efficiency of patient treatment. The Security Rule is very flexible which allows an institution or a business to implement different procedures, technologies, and policies to ensure compliance with The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

HIPAA Compliance with Physical, Technical Safeguards and Policies

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has specific requirements about HIPAA compliance with physical and technical aspects for companies responsible for holding and maintaining sensitive patient information. Some of the physical safeguards associated with compliance with HIPAA are:

  • Limited control in handling patient information with authorized access to concerned personnel only
  • The organization must put strict policies in place to control access to workstations and other computerized information
  • Transferring, disposing, re-using electronic information and removing any protected health information is restricted
  • Must use unique user IDS, with access codes for emergency access; the database and computers must have an automatic log off
  • Electronic devices must have effective encryption and decryption systems installed
  • Monitoring systems for recording activity on hardware and software are mandatory
  • Auditing reports and tackling logs of every computer system within the institution

Data Protection for Healthcare Institutions and HIPAA

Healthcare organizations are required to undertake strict safety measures to ensure data security for every patient. Institutions today uses high-quality healthcare management systems that meet the demand to meet all security measures put forward by The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The rules enforce healthcare organizations to ensure:

  • Availability and security of the protected health information (PHI) maintains the trust of patients and health care professionals
  • Must maintain HIPAA regulations associated with access, integrity controls, and audits
  • Secure data transmissions and device security must be ensured
  • Maintain greater control and visibility of sensitive data in the organization
  • Must guarantee to offer the best security measures to prevent a data breach
  • Any structured or unstructured data including emails, files, reports, and scans must be protected from cyber attacks
  • If sharing data with another organization is necessary for any reason, both parties must ensure proper security measures before transferring protected patient information

 

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is useful in maintaining a secure way to handle crucial patient information; in case of a data breach by internal or external sources, the organization is investigated thoroughly to protect patient information.

Check out America's Best Bookkeepers
About Complete Controller® – America’s Bookkeeping Experts Complete Controller is the Nation’s Leader in virtual accounting, providing services to businesses and households alike. Utilizing Complete Controller’s technology, clients gain access to a cloud-hosted desktop where their entire team and tax accountant may access the QuickBooks file and critical financial documents in an efficient and secure environment. Complete Controller’s team of  US based accounting professionals are certified QuickBooksTMProAdvisor’s providing bookkeeping and controller services including training, full or partial-service bookkeeping, cash-flow management, budgeting and forecasting, vendor and receivables management, process and controls advisement, and customized reporting. Offering flat rate pricing, Complete Controller is the most cost effective expert accounting solution for business, family office, trusts, and households of any size or complexity.

blur pharmacy drugstore with pharmacist background
Most healthcare organizations have started to embrace the numerous benefits of cloud computing as a doc storage platform. Among many, the benefits include its flexibility, cost-efficiency, and scalability. While cloud computing gives the benefit of convenient, easy sharing, and simple file storage, the risks related to security are abundant enough to bring an escalation to the Cloud Access Security Broker category.

Nonetheless, before employing a solution, it is vital to comprehend how industry regulations and procedures can have an impact on cloud adoption. Not just that, it is imperative to realize the necessary attributes when choosing a service provider for your cloud storage needs. In the healthcare sector, the major deciding element is HIPAA-HITECH compliance.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) will not suggest specific tools or methods regarding how to protect your data. However, encryption is encouraged to be used as a regular practice.

Why Does HIPAA Apply To Cloud Storage?

HIPAA was passed in 1996 with the objective of guarding the confidentiality and discretion of complex patient information. Protected entities under this act include healthcare policies, health care establishments and specific kinds of healthcare providers. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) included a notification obligation. Covered business associates and entities must inform OCR when a breach of unsafe PHI affects above 500 individuals.

We have taken the time to compile the top five HIPAA compliant cloud storage services deemed most popular. These doc storage platforms can also be a great way to take care of your bookkeeping obligations.

Dropbox (Business)

In November 2015, Dropbox stated their approval of the HIPAA and HITECH Act submission. Now, the company offers BAAs (Business Associate Agreement) to their Dropbox business clients. Organizational controls take account of removal and review of user activity accounts, user access linked devices, and permit two-step verification.

The Dropbox Business version comes out to be $12.50 per user, per month. It provides file recovery and unlimited storage, system alerts, innovative collaboration tools, granular permissions, and Office 365 incorporation.

Box

Box made the addition of HIPAA/HITECH compliance in 2013. Since then, Box has been enthusiastically promoting themselves to the healthcare sectors and customers. BAAs are offered for enterprise versions. Among the various features are granular file approvals, access monitoring, audits, and reporting trails for content and users.

Among others, Box integrations also offers Google, Salesforce, DocuSign and Office 365. Not only that, Box also permits DICOM files to be securely viewed (DICOM files are for ultrasounds, X-rays and CT scans) as well as securely sharing information by a direct messaging procedure.

Google Drive

Another doc storage platform is Google Drive. Google provides a BAA for their customers of Google Apps for Work. Apps consist of Forms, Slides, Sheets and Docs in addition to quite a lot of other facilities like Gmail. Organizational controls take account of file-sharing consents, audits, app activity and account activity tracking.

Microsoft OneDrive

Microsoft has also shown its support towards HIPAA/HITECH through providing BAAs towards their enterprise cloud computing services. Microsoft has some of the greatest security practice policies in the field. These security practice policies are most forceful and tough at the Enterprise E5 level. It will cost about $35 per month, per user.

Carbonite

Carbonite offers BAAs for their Office customers. Safety measure consist of offsite standby for disaster retrieval and compliance with the MDSR (Massachusetts Data Security Regulation). The company declares that it is extensively acknowledged and recognized as the best rigorous data security in the entire country.


Check out America's Best Bookkeepers
About Complete Controller® – America’s Bookkeeping Experts Complete Controller is the Nation’s Leader in virtual accounting, providing services to businesses and households alike. Utilizing Complete Controller’s technology, clients gain access to a cloud-hosted desktop where their entire team and tax accountant may access the QuickBooks file and critical financial documents in an efficient and secure environment. Complete Controller’s team of  US based accounting professionals are certified QuickBooksTMProAdvisor’s providing bookkeeping and controller services including training, full or partial-service bookkeeping, cash-flow management, budgeting and forecasting, vendor and receivables management, process and controls advisement, and customized reporting. Offering flat rate pricing, Complete Controller is the most cost effective expert accounting solution for business, family office, trusts, and households of any size or complexity.

Female doctor hold digital tablet pc and point in touch screen with finger closeup. Human interaction, professional consultation, therapeutist examine test results, new search opportunities concept
Technological innovation has transformed our living and way of doing business as well as other daily activities in various ways. We can earn money online, pay utility bills on the go, and learn new skills with the help of smart devices. And when it comes to healthcare organizations, the latest technological enhancements have incredibly improved the patients as well as practitioner’s experience. The healthcare industry has experienced a drastic shift towards adopting the latest tech tools, such as cloud-based solutions, in order to keep up with the increasing demands for eHealth service requirements.

eHealth advocates concepts of telemedicine which are also referred to as the distribution of healthcare information and services remotely through telecommunication technology that includes long distance clinician/patient contact, advice, care, reminders, education, counselling, monitoring, intervention and remote admissions.

Although such a digitally advanced shift is a welcomed change for many patients as it renders convenience and flexibility of treatment, it also causes a specific challenge in terms of cyber security that healthcare organizations must handle. Many IT professionals opt to solve their security issues through an all-access, comprehensive approach to solid coding and secure execution. However, the key to outstanding Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance as well as ensuring optimal security with telehealth service and solutions is to categorize this access.

It is crucial to know that for whom, why and when direct telehealth access is required before providing it to the suitable users. As this assessment is a basic step towards secure telehealth execution, as with any change, healthcare organizations should prepare themselves for a push-back by fabricating a cultural mindset of optimal security.

Why is Security Culture a Big Deal?

Over the past few years, the healthcare industry has faced major and frequently reported data and cyber-security breaches around the globe. Coupled with the immense increase in ‘access points’ for protected health information (PHI) and telemedicine services, such as desktops, smart medical devices, smartphones and tablets – digital security has become the most critical factor in the attempt to protect healthcare institutes.

With daily emerging security risks, healthcare organizations must be as flexible and resilient as the software and services they implement. Consequently, by designating an agile leader and keeping the essence of cyber security in mind, one can help any size of healthcare organization give a jump to a digital culture where cyber security is of maximum consideration.

Partnership vs Competition

Innovative technologies and smart software adoptions – including telemedicine execution – continue to spread rapidly throughout the healthcare industry. This intense desire for telehealth innovation is quite obvious from the estimation made by Jackson in Healthcare Physician Trends 2016 Report and it signifies that the worldwide telemedicine market will certainly expand to over seven million users in 2018 with $36.2 million by 2020.

This widespread technological explosion makes collaborations and partnerships between organizations more important than ever before in the history of cyber security. Although cooperation and coordination between businesses can make both the patient and health service provider experience more efficient, secure and flexible, many healthcare organizations’ IT units still view such collaboration as a significant threat. But, both conventional software and cloud-based providers are immensely valuable collaborators to a healthcare organization’s IT strategy – rather than being competitors. Remember, when healthcare IT providers look at each other negatively, it can be significantly harmful to the security and progress of any organization, causing a hurdle between the company’s goals and objectives to persevere to protect confidential information and data while transcending its own competition.

In this scenario, champions of healthcare organizations in the IT department and cyber-security units will act and assess all alternatives while trying to leverage technology from numerous places simply to give their institute a considerable push to thrive and prosper.

Focus on Employee Education and Cyber-security Training

Even when your new software is ready to be used and the IT unit has eventually viewed the light, it has to be reinforced into the healthcare organization’s core. Thus, organizations must make employee education and awareness programs a vital aspect of their corporate culture just like bookkeeping is an essential element of preparing financial statements.

Be Readily Prepared: It Usually gets Tougher before It Becomes Easier

As well-desired as this potential move in healthcare organizations to match the digitally evolving environment is, the change takes time and due diligence.

Check out America's Best Bookkeepers
About Complete Controller® – America’s Bookkeeping Experts Complete Controller is the Nation’s Leader in virtual accounting, providing services to businesses and households alike. Utilizing Complete Controller’s technology, clients gain access to a cloud-hosted desktop where their entire team and tax accountant may access the QuickBooks file and critical financial documents in an efficient and secure environment. Complete Controller’s team of  US based accounting professionals are certified QuickBooksTMProAdvisor’s providing bookkeeping and controller services including training, full or partial-service bookkeeping, cash-flow management, budgeting and forecasting, vendor and receivables management, process and controls advisement, and customized reporting. Offering flat rate pricing, Complete Controller is the most cost effective expert accounting solution for business, family office, trusts, and households of any size or complexity.

 

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.

Check out America's Best Bookkeepers
About Complete Controller® – America’s Bookkeeping Experts Complete Controller is the Nation’s Leader in virtual accounting, providing services to businesses and households alike. Utilizing Complete Controller’s technology, clients gain access to a cloud-hosted desktop where their entire team and tax accountant may access the QuickBooks file and critical financial documents in an efficient and secure environment. Complete Controller’s team of  US based accounting professionals are certified QuickBooksTMProAdvisor’s providing bookkeeping and controller services including training, full or partial-service bookkeeping, cash-flow management, budgeting and forecasting, vendor and receivables management, process and controls advisement, and customized reporting. Offering flat rate pricing, Complete Controller is the most cost effective expert accounting solution for business, family office, trusts, and households of any size or complexity.