You know that your practice needs to be HIPAA compliant but what does that mean for you and your staff? The short answer is that all Covered Entities and their Business Associates are required to secure and protect protected health information (PHI).
Although this may seem like a simple enough task, there are a variety of rules and protocols in place for the protection of PHI, all of which are crucial to protecting your practice from costly HIPAA violation fines.
HIPAA Security Rule: What Does It Mean for My Practice?
The HIPAA Security Rule mandates that all practices and covered entities ensure that there are appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to protect the security and privacy of PHI.
What does that mean for your practice?
First, any electronic health record system must be implemented in compliance with HIPAA regulations. This means that each staff member who has access to records must have a unique user identification number for tracking purposes, and all protected health information is encrypted.
If your practice does not have this protocol in place, you may be at risk for a hefty fine.
HIPAA Breach Notification Rule: Help Your Practice Stay Accountable
The HIPAA Breach Notification Rule expands on the HIPAA Privacy Rule by outlining the procedures required in case of a breach of unsecured protected health information. According to this rule, practices must report any breach of PHI to both the affected patient and the Department of Health & Human Services.
If the security breach affects more than 500 patients, the public must be informed as well.
HIPAA Privacy Rule: How Do I Protect Patient Information?
The HIPAA Privacy Rule was established to protect all confidential patient information with regard to health plans, insurance providers, healthcare clearinghouses, and healthcare providers.
This rule requires that all practices:
Prevent any forbidden use or disclosure of protected health information.
Immediately report any security breaches or disclosures to the Covered Entity.
Provide patients with secure access to their protected health information.
Keep a record of all disclosures.
Comply with the HIPAA Security Rule.
For more information about the HIPAA Privacy Rule, visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
HIPAA Enforcement Rule: What Happens If My Practice Is Not Compliant?
As the name suggests, the HIPAA Enforcement Rule clearly spells out the protocol for HIPAA violation investigations, penalties that may be incurred, and procedures for hearings.
Depending on the nature of the HIPAA violation, failure to comply with HIPAA regulations can cost your practice anywhere from $100 to $50,000 per violation. To make matters worse, HIPAA violations that carry criminal charges may result in jail time.
Is Your Practice HIPAA Compliant?
If you are not sure that your practice is HIPAA compliant, chances are that you and your staff run the risk of incurring heavy fines.