Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations can lead to costly mistakes resulting in reputation and brand damage, fines, and criminal penalties. However, organizations can easily avoid these consequences by following the well-documented HIPAA compliance requirements. But first, companies must establish whether HIPAA compliance applies to them.
Who needs to be HIPAA compliant?
“Covered entities” and their “business associates,” such as health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers—even those who still conduct transactions with paper documents (because those bills are sent to a biller or other associate who likely makes electronic companies for billing and tracking)—need to follow the regulation’s stipulations. Basically, anyone who handles protected health information (PHI) must be HIPAA compliant.
If your organization falls under that wide umbrella, ensure you’re following these three best practices to become and remain compliant:
- Implement safeguards and procedures to protect PHI, including technical, physical, and administrative safeguards (e.g., access and audit controls, integrity and authentication of those accessing PHI, transmission security) and ensure employees are properly trained in these procedures.
- Limit who can access PHI and with whom your organization shares PHI to only necessary parties.
- Ensure any businesses that you work with also remain compliant and properly safeguard PHI.
If you’re unsure of the soundness of your HIPAA compliance practices, a third-party audit can help determine where your security posture falls short measured against HIPAA requirements. Find an experienced provider who can perform a comprehensive and objective analysis of your organization’s compliance, focused on identifying compliance deficiencies. With a detailed report in hand, you can review your strengths and where you need to step up efforts to avoid critical oversights.
HIPAA compliance doesn’t have to be overwhelming—with the right procedures, policies, and safeguards, your organization can maintain compliance without worry. To get there, a thorough audit by an experienced firm can greatly help.