Generally defined, HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a set of laws designed to protect the most sensitive information regarding medical patients. HIPAA compliance is necessary for any company that handles protected health information. These companies are required to have network, physical, and process security measures established in order to ensure that they are complying with HIPAA laws.
In order to ensure that companies are completely compliant with any and all HIPAA laws, some of the most basic physical safeguards that they need to employ include the following:
- More limited facility access and control, while also ensuring that a more authorized access is in place.
- Ensuring that there is information regarding policies about accessing and using workstations and any electronic media.
- Imposing restrictions for removing, disposing, reusing, and transferring ePHI and electronic media.
Additionally, technical safeguards involving HIPAA compliance also require access control for authorized personnel in order to access ePHI, which includes the following:
- Only using unique user identifications, automatic logoff, emergency access procedures, decryption, and encryption.
- Tracking logs and audit reports that are designed to record any and all activity on software and hardware.
Data protection strategy is also extremely important in ensuring that companies are in compliance with all HIPAA laws. This will enable healthcare organizations to do the following:
- Maintain availability and security of PHI in terms of maintaining trust with both patients and healthcare providers.
- Meeting regulations with both HITECH and HIPAA in terms of audit, integrity controls, data transmission, device security, and access.
- Maintaining a greater sense of overall visibility and control in terms of sensitive data in a company.
In 2019, there are also some additional regulations that will help to ensure that a company will be compliant with HIPAA laws as well. These regulations include the following:
- Self-audits, which enable you to conduct annual business audits as a way to assess physical administrative, and technical gaps as part of HIPAA Privacy and Security standard compliance.
- Remediation Plans, which will help to fix any and all vulnerabilities once any gaps have been identified.
- Employee Training/Policies/Procedures, which are designed to help with avoiding future HIPAA violations and fines.
- Documentation, which requires a business to document any and all efforts taken in order to become HIPAA compliant. This is something that must be maintained for a total of six years.
- Business Associate Management, which requires documenting all vendors that you share PHI with in order to ensure it is handled securely.
- Incident Management, which means that if your company suffers a data breach, you will need to ensure that there are procedures in place to help investigate, track, and report the breach to HHS OCR.
Implementing all of these necessary procedures and safeguards will most definitely help to ensure that your company is totally compliant with any and all HIPAA laws throughout the remainder of 2019 and heading into the year 2020. While it may seem like a lot to do and a lot of hard work, it will all be worth it in the end so that you don’t end up having to deal with any annoying fines or violations that can end up making things worse for you.
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