Many people talk about HIPAA compliance, but not everyone truly knows what it means. Sure, it means private medical information is to be kept private, but are people who work in medical offices absolutely certain how to stay in compliance with this rather serious legislation?
There are two distinct HIPAA regulations that medical staff must be thoroughly versed in. Let’s talk about what they entail and how you can ensure your practice stays in compliance:
One main HIPAA guideline stipulates that safeguards must be in place to keep protected health information and personal information safe from the standpoint of people, including administrative personnel and contractors of all kinds. All medical practices must comply with the HIPAA privacy regulations in regards to which people are allowed access to these records and who cannot have access.
A second major HIPAA guideline is having safeguards in place for keeping personal health information that is in electronic form – meaning computers, networks, intranets, email, software, and other types of electronic transmissions – safe from hackers, disasters, and theft, both physical and electronic. All organizations that store or transmit protected personal health information electronically are mandated to protect this electronic data.
HIPAA regulations must be strictly enforced by any practice or organization that deals with patients, whether it be physical information, mental or emotional information, and all aspects of a person’s private data. Employees need to know that this information must remain private.
All employees of a medical, dental, or mental health provider’s office must be trained to always be in compliance with confidential data. Any organization that works in or with the health care industry, or has access to protected information, must comply with HIPAA data laws.
For organizations that deal with such data, it is ideal for new staff members to hold HIPAA certification. If you are opening a new practice or medical company, it may be easier to have a HIPAA-trained expert come and teach a class to all employees. After taking this class, they will receive a two-year certificate.
Rather than trying to figure it out yourself, it is much easier to hire a company like ProMD Practice Management to come in and train everyone with regard to HIPAA. A firm like ours can also quickly ascertain any areas of data vulnerability and possible violations even before they happen.
The fines for HIPAA violations depend on the seriousness of the violation and whether there was any intent behind the violation – or whether it was an innocent or careless error. The fines can be up to $250,000.
Don’t pull a patient’s chart and set it down, and walk away with it left unattended. Never use a patient’s entire name within earshot of a colleague, because they might not have clearance – and they may leave and repeat it to others. Cover all charts when not in use, lock away all Training Your Medical Staff to Be HIPAA Compliantpatient data, encrypt all files, and close all computer programs and secure them with a password when not in use.
These are just some of the many requirements detailed in HIPAA. Remember that HIPAA rules change frequently, so a professional like ProMD Practice Management is up-to-date on all changes – and ready to teach your employees. An ounce of prevention can equal many thousands of dollars of cure in this instance.
To ensure that your office is in good standing, call us today at 888-622-7498 or request a consultation, and find out how we can make your medical practice truly thrive in every way.