If you’re thinking of setting up a business in the healthcare industry that will likely have access to protected health information, it’s necessary to know how to be HIPAA compliant. What does it mean to be HIPAA compliant and how do healthcare organizations achieve this status?
It’s not easy to become HIPAA compliant because it demands implementing safeguards and controls that protect the integrity, confidentiality and availability of patients’ protected health information (PHI). HIPAA compliance requires developing company policies and procedures that follow the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, the HIPAA Privacy Rule of 2000, the HIPAA Security Rule of 2003, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, and the Omnibus Final Rule of 2013.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights has written about HIPAA compliance. The full text is found in 45 CFR Parts 160, 162, and 164. You can also read the condensed version written in 115 pages and apply the rules to your business. HIPAA compliance could be an formidable task. Just the thought of the penalties for HIPAA violations and the consequences of health data breaches can be intimidating.
Companies that would like to provide products and services in the healthcare industry need help in becoming HIPAA compliant. A HIPAA compliance checklist can serve as a guide so that the company can easily assess and implement the safeguards, policies and procedures required by HIPAA. Getting the assistance of a third-party HIPAA compliance solution provider is also a good idea. The provider can help confirm whether your company policies, procedures and practices are in accordance with HIPAA rules. You will have peace of mind that you have made all the necessary steps to ensure you’re securing PHI whether you create, store, maintain or transmit it.
By means of a business associate agreement, vendors of products or services to healthcare organizations can have proof that they are aware of the HIPAA rules, they have trained personnel on HIPAA rules and they have implemented the technology that secures ePHI and patient privacy. There is no official HIPAA compliance certificate being issued by federal or state agencies. But there are companies that issue HIPAA compliance certification to confirm that the vendor has completed the certification process and has complied with all HIPAA rules. There are existing third-party audits of HIPAA compliance as well. They help the company identify if it has overlooked any aspect of HIPAA compliance and will give recommendations to correct the deficiencies and avoid penalties for non-compliance.
Becoming HIPAA compliant today doesn’t mean that the company is HIPAA compliant tomorrow. Compliance is an ongoing process. Efforts to assure that controls are in place and that PHI remains secure doesn’t end. There must be regular risk analysis performed. Proper documentation must be maintained as this is necessary in case of any complaint received or breach of PHI. The help of a third-party HIPAA compliance solution provider may be requested to oversee all aspects of HIPAA compliance.