The US Department of Health and Human Services defines HIPAA Compliant Email as a set of national standards to protect patient health information. This means that medical providers and their Business Associates must abide by a strict set of rules and security measures to remain HIPAA compliant.
However, these requirements are complex and challenging to implement. This is especially true for small medical providers and their Business Associates.
What is HIPAA?
HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a federal law that protects the privacy of patient information. The law applies to hospitals, clinics, doctors, health plans and all organizations that have direct contact with patients or use their information in some way.
The law covers Protected Health Information, or PHI, and Electronic Protected Health Information, or ePHI. This includes medical records, billing information and any other information that could be used to identify an individual.
The best way to avoid HIPAA violations is through comprehensive compliance training and a well-designed system that minimizes human error. Without these elements, your practice or organization is at risk of a data breach and major fines.
What are the Rules?
If you are in the health care industry, you know that HIPAA rules and regulations govern how you store, transfer and use patient information. These laws cover all covered entities, including medical centers and practices, health care clearinghouses and business associates.
You may also know that violations of HIPAA can mean a big fine. That’s why it’s important to stay compliant with the law and learn about your rights as a patient.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects individuals’ personal health information (PHI). It limits the uses and disclosures of PHI without patient authorization, and it gives patients rights to access their own records and request corrections if needed.
What are the Requirements?
In order to stay HIPAA compliant, healthcare organizations must implement all of the administrative, physical, and technical safeguards outlined in the Privacy Rule and Security Rule. These protections are necessary to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and security of PHI and ePHI.
These regulations also cover the healthcare industry’s entire supply chain, including health plans, healthcare providers, business associates and their subcontractors, and healthcare clearinghouses. All of these entities need to have robust HIPAA compliance measures in place if they want to avoid civil monetary penalties.
What are the Risks?
Whether they are deliberate or unintentional, violations of HIPAA privacy and security laws can be costly to your healthcare organization. Not only can they disrupt your workflow and harm your reputation, but they can also lead to hefty fines.
Violations may be intentional, such as a hacker stealing PHI, or they might be the result of a data loss. If you suspect a breach has occurred, report it to your HIPAA privacy officer and/or the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
In general, breaches of PHI or electronic patient health information (ePHI) occur when someone accesses or discloses a healthcare organization’s unsecured PHI without authorization. These breaches can be identified in a number of ways, including through a risk analysis or during a HIPAA audit.
What are the Solutions?
There are a number of solutions available to help individuals who are not HIPAA compliant. These include training, risk assessments and audits.
The most common solution is to create cohesive privacy policies that outline how sensitive data should be handled, disposed of and shared. This can reduce mistakes and prevent violations.
It also helps to educate employees about the rules and device standards they must follow to be HIPAA compliant. This will take time, but it is the best investment you can make to ensure your organization remains compliant.
Many HIPAA violations happen because of human error. For example, if an employee is busy or distracted, they can forget to shred paper files before throwing them out.