Ground Labs | 10/28/2020
Are you looking to learn more about HIPAA compliance and how it impacts individuals and businesses alike? You’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a closer look at the HIPAA security rule and how to remain compliant.
The HIPAA Security Rule was created in order to set the standards for the management of electronic protected health information (ePHI), including how the information was created, received, maintained, and transmitted by a covered entity. It clearly defines the administrative, physical, and technical safeguards of HIPAA that qualified organizations must adopt and execute to ensure the integrity of obtained health information. Given the healthcare industry’s increasing reliance on electronic systems, the Security Rule is a standout component of HIPAA.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets the national standard for patient data protection. Companies that handle protected health information (PHI) must incorporate data security measures that align with HIPAA regulation. These measures should effectively secure patient data – whether this data was obtained from a medical visit, data discovery, or a third party. Compliance is required of healthcare providers, health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and business associates, or else the covered entities could face fines of up to $50,000 per violation.
Related: What is HIPAA Compliance? Tips for Being Compliant
According to HHS.gov, the Security Rule applies to any health care provider who transmits health information in electronic form in connection with a transaction that has adopted HIPAA standards.
Covered entities include:
Simultaneously, HIPAA guides covered entities to compliance while granting patients access to their health information. Upon request, an individual can obtain a physical or electronic copy of their medical records or have their health information sent to a caregiver. They can also gain access to their PHI in mobile apps supported by encryption and personal logins.
PHI – Protected Health Information – relates to the health or condition of a specific person, and can potentially be used to identify, locate, or contact that person if leaked or hacked.
The following qualifies as PHI:
HIPAA is set in motion by PHI. Thus, if an organization has failed to protect PHI, it has failed to comply with HIPAA standards.
One instance of data security oversight could cost your company substantial financial loss as well as a tarnished reputation. HIPAA enforces ways to avoid the above violations. HIPAA IT compliance urges covered entities to protect ePHI with unique identifiers, passwords, and encryptions. The Act also pinpoints parameters for workforce training and management. Therefore, the responsibility is on the covered entity to fall in line with regulations and approach vulnerabilities with supreme discipline.
When spearheading a compliance program, or updating one, it’s wise to take notes from the most reputable source. The Department of Health and Human Services published The Seven Fundamental Elements of an Effective Compliance Program.
They read as follows:
The appointment of a Designated Protection Officer (DPO), or compliance officer, is not required for covered entities per HIPAA, though the move is highly recommended.
Your DPO and his or her assigned committee should have one goal: To remain compliant. They Will be responsible for conducting audits, monitoring and enforcing regulation updates, and creating training material. Compliance is a collective effort, so widespread HIPAA knowledge throughout your staff is imperative.
The Seven Elements will certainly get your compliance program off to a promising start. If your organization can treat them as a priority, and with constant discipline and effort, then HIPAA compliance should result.
Furthermore, the administrative, physical, and technical safeguards referred to by the Security Rule can help mold your compliance program.
Administrative safeguards consist of:
Physical safeguards consist of:
Technical safeguards consist of:
Covered entities are met with the great challenge of leveraging significant amounts of user data while also securing it and keeping it accessible. That’s where data discovery comes into play.
Data discovery organizes data platforms through the precise processing, managing, and allocating of obtained online information. In a split second, you’ll be able to find PHI requested by a healthcare professional or patient. Also, your organization and its clients, or third party contributors, will benefit from a secure transfer of data.
Effective data discovery software will:
Ultimately, your organization will advance its control of essential data and have the processes in place to ensure HIPAA compliance.
Non-compliance can result in a range of penalties. Fines can be as low as $100 per incident and as high as $50,000 per incident. Organizations that violate HIPAA through willful neglect and fail to take corrective measures may face an annual fine of $1.5 million.
The degree of monetary punishment is based on four determinants:
Jail time is possible. Covered entities whose violations fall under the “willful neglect” category could be charged criminally, and a year in jail may ensue. It’s also worth noting that repeat violations typically result in fines two-to-four times the initial amount.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) outlines four general rules for covered entities:
Business associates fall under HIPAA compliance if performing activities or functions that involve PHI and are on behalf of or as a service to a covered entity. The covered entity must gain assurance that the business associate can properly handle PHI. This is typically done through a written contract between the two parties.
There are organizations that will review a covered entity for compliance, and perhaps issue a certification for affirmation. However, there is no “official” HIPAA compliance certification. Neither the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) nor the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issue certificates.
Guarantee your data protection by contacting Ground Labs, a data solutions company entirely devoted to helping organizations fulfill compliance standards. On servers, on desktops, or in the cloud, we’ll keep your ePHI secure.
As companies all around the world continue have large portions of their workforce remote, the need to keep their data safe and protected is even more critical. To help companies navigate this new reality and mitigate security risks, we are providing a 90-day complimentary version of our flagship solution—Enterprise Recon. Learn more about it here.
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