Healthcare professionals who comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) will benefit by removing the risk of breaching the HIPAA rules. Their patients would feel secure with them. They won’t be at risk of losing their license. They will also benefit from the continued business they’ll get from hospitals that require compliant professionals. They can deal with other healthcare franchises, which also need compliance.
These are just 5 benefits among many advantages of complying with the HIPAA Rules. There are more reasons why health professionals should have a HIPAA compliance program in their clinics and offices. You might want to read on if you’re still looking to set up your practice compliance. Here are a few tips that could help healthcare professionals and practitioners to comply with the HIPAA Rules.
Create and Implement Privacy and Security Policies
If you’re a healthcare professional or practitioner with your own clinic or private practice, you don’t really have to draw up a bulky and voluminous compliance handbook or company manual. Large hospitals and healthcare institutions need that, but it’s unlikely that you would. But you still have to come up with a reference that your healthcare staff can turn to and something you can share with those who share clinic space with you.
Your clinic or office needs to have a single reference that outlines your healthcare compliance policies. It could be an outline of the areas you have to comply with. You can briefly describe the dos and don’ts based on what’s required under HIPAA and other healthcare regulations. You can also include your own in-house rules, which you think can help further tighten your healthcare compliance.
You should make several copies of this reference document. It can be printed in hard paper copies and saved as readable files. All your staff and employees, including those who share your clinic, should receive a copy of your compliance reference.
Implement Administrative Safeguards
You should consider creating and implementing administrative safeguards to ensure that your office and staff don’t compromise electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI). You can also develop management processes to enforce the compliance policies and rules you wrote down in your compliance reference.
These management processes should specify the security measures you’re putting in place to manage access, processing, handling, and sharing of ePHI within your clinic or office. You can assign someone to be in charge of implementing those security measures. If you have a few staff, you can train them. They should be trained on their roles and responsibilities to comply with HIPAA. You should emphasize to them that a breach of ePHI can cost you potentially millions of dollars and even possible prison time.
Implement Physical Safeguards
In addition to your administrative measures, you should also consider setting up physical safeguards. This will reinforce your controls over who among your staff and employees can access your clinic’s various kinds of documents and your clinic. You should place all paper documents containing protected health information in a storeroom that only you and those authorized can access. This additional security barrier will prevent unauthorized access or even a planned intrusion.
You can also put physical safeguards on your server by placing locks on your computer shelf or cabinet. This can prevent any physical attempts to access your server inside your office unauthorized.
Implement Technical Safeguards
Apart from administrative and physical safeguards, you should highly consider asking an IT specialist to set up technical safeguards for your IT system and network. This will give you a more effective and higher degree of control over what your employees can access from your database and servers. If you have more than a few staff, you’ll have to assign them different access levels to technology.
For example, if you have one, your accountant or accounting staff don’t need access to folders containing sensitive patient healthcare information. Your healthcare professionals and clinic assistants don’t need access to your patient’s billing records. If you also have them, your healthcare specialists or practice consultants shouldn’t access internal documents and records. You can achieve this by asking your IT consultant to set up HIPAA-compliant texting and messaging solutions for your office.
Another challenge that healthcare professionals have to meet is to comply with cybersecurity threats and the pervasive use of mobile devices in healthcare communications. You should ask your IT consultant to set up cybersecurity measures to minimize the danger of hacking.
You can also ask them to train your staff to avoid potential cybersecurity breaches. They should be taught how to keep their email accounts secure, avoid opening suspicious emails and attachments, and set up two-factor authentication for their office accounts.
Compliance with the HIPAA rules will give healthcare professionals and their workers and assistants peace of mind. It will also share their patients’ security and assurance that their privacy is protected. This article discussed five tips that can help healthcare professionals comply with HIPAA.
Zebriana Danes is a medical specialist. She studies medical-related topics and shares them by conducting webinars and writing blog posts. Zebriana loves to travel, shop, and cook in her free time.