25 May Top 5 Things to Maintain HIPAA Compliance
In 1996, the federal government implemented the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (known as HIPAA). This implication created major effects that have changed the way the medical community uses and protects patient data. Throughout the years, there have been various updates to HIPAA, which were done in attempt to improve healthcare and patient privacy. With all of these updates and new guidelines, it is often hard to keep up with how to stay compliant under HIPAA. Here are the top five things you should do to maintain HIPAA compliance.
Number 1: Implement Security Policies
Make sure that your patients and employees are aware of the practice’s security policies. Ensure that it is clear as to who is allowed access to facility equipment or information, and who is not. This also includes making sure there is restricted access to WiFi and the healthcare facility computers. In addition, restrict access to patient record holding facilities and healthcare professional’s offices or other areas where sensitive patient information is stored. Post this information in the form of signs and notices around your facility, so there is no confusion.
Number 2: Educate Employees and Patients
Provide and maintain education about security in regards to HIPAA. Make sure that employees and individuals associated with your practice are aware of new polices, and always review old policies every quarter or on a scheduled basis. Make sure the personnel and healthcare workers understand the various ways HIPAA can be breached and the ways to handle an incident, should it ever happen.
It is also a good idea to have an office employee who is responsible for HIPAA guidelines and implementing policies. This way, any questions can be directed to the designated person, who can give employees and patients accurate information. This is essential to remaining compliant with HIPAA, given that strict and rigid regulations that continue to develop. Additionally, have your office manager hold monthly meetings with staff to go over HIPAA guidelines and procedures.
Number 3: Develop an Emergency Plan for Confidentiality Breach
Another way to remaining HIPAA compliant is having an emergency plan if HIPAA guidelines are ever breached. This should include a plan of action for small and large emergencies. These emergency plans should include guidelines on how to recover lost or erased data and how patients will be notified.
Patient data should also be backed up and stored in a different location than the practice facility, in case of a loss of information. Also, make sure there is a reporting system, where incident that allowed for HIPAA breaches can be document and kept record for, so that they can be properly reported and handled.
Number 4: Limit Accidental Violations
HIPAA compliance can also be reached by limiting or decreasing the possibility of information that can be accidentally shared or overheard by unauthorized individuals. This can be done in an office setting by always closing down programs after use, not using a patient’s full name while speaking in a public setting, and not sharing passwords or email accounts between office members.
Other ways to reduce this liability is to ensure that all paperwork and documents are stored properly in specific folders or computer programs and not left open or lying around. While patient information storage is important, maintaining privacy for patient records and medical information is also equally as important when attempting to remain HIPAA compliant.
Ensure that any companies or businesses associated with your practice are HIPAA compliant, as well. This is important for your practice’s quest to remain HIPAA compliance. Failure of a company associated with you to follow HIPAA guidelines could affect your ability to properly follow these guidelines.
Also, it is important to make sure that companies associated with your healthcare facility have HIPAA guidelines that are similar to yours, to ensure patient information privacy between the two practices or companies.