In this era of technological advancements, the healthcare segment has also experienced digitisation of all integrated systems and processes. These days healthcare providers have computerised operations, electronic patient health records, digital laboratories, and modern pharmacies. Similarly, health plan providers have also started offering easy access to claims through self-serviceable online apps.
While technology has brought convenience and ease of access, it has also increased the security risks that can cause a breach. So, HIPAA compliance is now more important than ever for businesses in the Healthcare IT Services segment.
What is HIPAA?
The Health Insurance Probability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 mandates industry-wide standards for dealing with sensitive patient healthcare information on covered entities and other related business associates. This legislation was passed with an intent to prevent health care fraud and abuse of electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI).
If you are a technology provider offering Healthcare IT Services or a business dealing with confidential healthcare information, then you need to comply with the HIPAA regulations regarding electronic healthcare records, health insurance portability, and administrative simplification. Due care needs to be taken when dealing with health information for patients, healthcare services providers, and employers. If you have third-party business associates or subcontractors who have access to similar secure patient health records, then they also need to be HIPAA compliant.
Clearly, the objectives of this legislation outweigh its challenges as it has streamlined healthcare industry's inefficiencies, reduced paperwork with the implementation of compliant healthcare IT services, and enabled employees to switch jobs despite having pre-existing medical conditions if they have health insurance. All this is possible when HIPAA compliant companies periodically take relevant physical, technical, and administrative security measures to stay compliant.
Is it necessary?
As a business owner, you may be worried about with the repercussions of not complying with the HIPAA regulations unknowingly or knowingly. Not adhering to the HIPAA compliance can result in substantial fines and even lawsuits in worst case scenarios and you wouldn't want to be on the wrong end of the law in the event of a breach.
HIPAA is governed by four rules-
- HIPAA Breach Notification Rule
- HIPAA Privacy Rule
- HIPAA Security Rule
- HIPAA Enforcement Rule
These rules are applicable to all stakeholders working in the healthcare segment including but not limited to-
- Medical Health Insurance Providers: Employers, Universities, Insurance Companies, etc.
- Healthcare IT service providers: Companies offering MIS/ERP systems, Billing software, IT facility management services, etc.
- Healthcare Providers: Hospitals, clinics, laboratories, pharmacies, doctors, etc.
- Third Party Business Associates: Sub-contractors, HR companies, Accountants, Auditors, Infrastructure Service Providers, Medical Equipment Suppliers, etc.
You might be wondering what you can do to ensure that your company’s systems and operations comply with such lengthy legislation. Well, the solution is simple, we’ve compiled a simple checklist that can help you create a HIPAA compliance policy for your company.
HIPAA Compliance Checklist
This HIPAA compliance checklist covers three facets that safeguard businesses offering healthcare IT services - technical, physical, and administrative. Although this is not an exhaustive checklist still, we've tried to cover all the points in the simplest way possible so that it is easy to comprehend and even easier to implement in your company.
While self-auditing your company's HIPAA compliance may seem like a tedious task, it is essential that you do not neglect any single aspect of it. Even if you have hired a dedicated team or personnel to audit your company, you must be aware of the legalities and compliance policy procedures pertinent to your healthcare IT services business. Understanding compliance issues as a business owner will help you under adverse situations (if any arises).
Read on to access an easy and free HIPAA compliance checklist that can help you in the long run:
- Does your software or IT service monitor the actions of each stakeholder involved with user verification at critical stages?
- Does your software or IT service provider restricted access to patient information by using only as much detail as needed to perform the job and eliminating any chances of the unauthorized alteration of ePHI?
- Does your software take backups to recover and collect data in the event of an emergency and can it ensure faster up-time?
- Can your software or IT service ensure transmission security to prevent unauthorized access or transmission over an unsecured network?
- Do you offer a limited physical access to the healthcare facility management system?
- Do you restrict the use of personal devices and gadgets on the premises?
- Do you have systems in place to manage ePHI stored across different devices considering the unlikely event of a gadget being stolen, misplaced, and re-used or if a user resigns?
- Have you secured your workstations?
- Can you restrict the use of workstations that have continuous access to ePHI to block unauthorized users?
- Do you adhere to HIPAA privacy & security rules?
- Do you use or disclose or access any health information without the patient’s consent?
- Have you appointed security officers who will conduct periodic audits and assessments of risks management, privacy, and administration?
- Do you have a remediation plan in place to address the deficiencies identified during the aforementioned audits and assessments?
- Have you conducted staff training to distribute all policies and procedures for basic HIPAA compliance?
- Have you developed a contingency plan to handle a security breach?
- Have you trained your team to maintain the required documentation pertaining to the four rules of the HIPAA compliance including the privacy and security rule?
- Have you identified whether or not any third-parties or business associates can access ePHI and if yes, can you restrict unauthorized access as and when deemed necessary?
The Bottom Line
Our checklist will not only assist you in creating HIPAA compliant IT solutions for healthcare but will also aid you in preventing a HIPAA violation. These rules, policies, and procedures ensure that anyone who has access to confidential healthcare information doesn't misuse their authority.