Every sector nowadays is transitioning towards a paperless mode. Digitalization can be credited for this change! Managing things online, serving customers through web portals, and online platforms are the new business-customer interaction. And, the healthcare sector is no different. But, amidst all this adaptation of taking healthcare operations, processes, and benefits online, patients’ data suffers!
In this modern healthcare system, patients’ critical data gets compromised, and face data threats, leaks, and access to unauthorized third-party holders. This surfaced the need for a system that controls and looks for how secure patients’ data is. Not only this, but the need for a system that keeps organizations checked, and controlled was also felt!
HIPAA came into the picture!
What is HIPAA?
HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Instituted by HHS ( Department of Health, and human services), and enforced by OCR(Office for Civil Rights), HIPAA now is in action to protect patients’ data. It is a set of stringent rules and conditions that any organization storing, and gathering patient data needs to follow.
Over the past two decades, HIPAA has regularly updated its guidelines and enforcement. Getting updated parallelly with modern healthcare systems, HIPAA’s many updates were rolled out, But, HIPAA’s 2002 update was a significant one!
In this update, it incorporated PHI, or Protected health information which was a major turn. It revamped the way organizations have been collecting, storing, and managing patients’ records across platforms!
And, in action since 1996 (and got updated at regular intervals), HIPAA now is a complete combination of principles to keep patients’ data encrypted in all forms. It also sets guidelines for sorting, sharing, and using protected health information (PHI).
And all healthcare associations, insurance parties, and other organizations that collect patient data in any form need to follow these sets of regulations to ensure HIPAA compliance to avoid any possible data misuse.
Further, following HIPAA compliance can also keep them away from HHS’s penalties. But, the HIPAA compliance checklist is a complicated set of rules. Let’s comprehend these in detail-
Elements of HIPAA Security Rule
- Keeps the PHI (Protected Health information) confidential, and secure only to authorized, and allowed bodies.
- Helps in detecting any possible threats. Also safeguards menaces to the security and safety of patients’ information
- Protects against the anticipated unauthorized use, and closure of information to impermissible parties.
But, how can abiding bodies ensure they satisfy HIPAA compliance?
How to Ensure HIPAA Compliance?
There are factors that need to be satisfied to ensure you meet HIPAA compliance standards. Some of these are-
- Keeping policies, standards of conduct, and procedures entirely updated, and informed to all users; new, or old.
- Allotting a dedicated compliance officer, and committee. This committee would look over the management principles and HIPAA compliance action conduct.
- The setting, and streamlining of the lines of communication between authorities, patients, and even third parties.
- Monitoring optimum training, and education of staff, and associated individuals.
- Enforcing, and circulating HIPAA compliance standards via well-publicized, and circulated disciplinary guidelines. Also, if there are any updates, inform them timely!
- Responding promptly, and taking appropriate actions on threats, and discrepancies observed. This should also involve undertaking actions upon offense detection.
- Schedule internal monitoring and auditing process. This can help validate and check any threats, and data discrepancies.
Need for HIPAA Compliance
HIPAA compliance is a condition when healthcare organizations follow the rules, and regulatory standards set by the HIPAA governing body. HIPAA compliance ensures that the patient data is secure and safe with the organization. This also incorporates guidelines to pose other checkpoints. Being HIPAA compliant offers a plethora of merits to both organizations, as well as patients. Let’s comprehend in detail!
HIPAA Compliance for Healthcare Facilities
Healthcare facilities by abiding by HIPAA compliance can get a lot of benefits. Be it gaining patients’ trust, or establishing a secure healthcare network, it is of great advantage. Here are some of the merits-
1. Optimum Safeguards
HIPAA compliance increases the probability that you create a safe environment for patients. A scenario where patients don’t feel perplexed, or uncertain while sharing and letting you access their personal records. While it is near impossible to create a 100% secure platform, HIPAA compliance certifies that you have enough safeguards in action. This limits the scope of any possible mishandling of patients’ information.
Some of the safeguards are keeping HIPAA indicators, or markers checked and secured. These can be the patient’s name, account details, and other personal details like geographical information, contact details, and many more. One can get a complete list of HIPAA markers from the official website.
2. Everything Managed on Servers
The governing body of HIPAA; HHS highlights the need for taking healthcare operations online. This also points out to store patients’ data on secured servers. This increases security and also keeps both businesses as well as patients in a secure zone.
Further, by managing healthcare information on servers, healthcare organizations can take the complete onus of who can access their data and information. In this way, one can also keep only the internal staff authorized to access the information. Further, the ways to deploy other checkpoints like two-factor authentication, and passwords to protect information stored on servers can also be leveraged.
3. Patient’s Trust
By keeping HIPAA compliance checked, you can make sure you gain your patient’s trust. As HIPAA compliance ensures your platform is completely secured, and safe, it’s always advised to keep this checked. If your patients know your services are HIPAA Compliant, they can feel more secure and therefore would trust you over your non-HIPAA compliant competitors.
4. End-to-end Secure Platforms
One of the chief merits of HIPAA compliance is that it assists in establishing end-to-end secure platforms, and portals. If one follows the guidelines properly, the establishment of secure platforms will be taken care of. Keeping patient information confidential, and geographically entails secure, and payment information encrypted can keep these platforms safe.
These HIPAA rules, and guidelines, if followed precisely by online software, or healthcare platforms, a completely secure ecosystem can also be established by the HIPAA compliance checklist satisfied. This can make the online experience of healthcare platforms better, and more advanced.
5. Payment Systems Checked
For insurance agencies, or any healthcare authority that needs patients to fill up an amount, or makes a payment online, HIPAA compliance can be an important factor. It can ensure payee’s payment details are completely secure. Further, this can also help in establishing a network where any mishandling, or misuse of payment information can be penalized.
These were the benefits of HIPAA compliance for healthcare facilities. But, it also propounds a range of merits to patients. Let’s discuss other aspects now!
Important Article: Step-By-Step Guide on Mobile App HIPAA Compliance
HIPAA Compliance for Patients
1. Permissions, and Allowance
If patients log on or consider services from a provider with HIPAA compliance checked, they will always be informed about updated data policies. In this step, patients will be informed where, how, and when can their information be shared with any third parties. On which, the user generally submits the permissions, and agreements to do so!
This makes sure you stay informed, and updated on what can, and cannot be done with whatever information you log in on the platform.
2. Reflects Trust and Security!
It is believed that if you consider healthcare service providers with HIPAA compliance status, you can trust your provider. This will also help you feel safe, and secure while on the platform. Be it for the payment details, or your details, HIPAA compliance markers include all this in the information that has to be secured.
3. Get an Upper Hand!
There are many non-HIPAA-compliant platforms available. And, if you leverage these, you are risking your personal information. And if it gets misused, you cannot penalize the concerned authority!
But, if you opt for a HIPAA compliance provider, you can penalize, or even report the provider in case of any mishandling of information. This gives patients an upper hand while leveraging modern healthcare services.
Related Article: 4 Easy Steps To Make Your App HIPAA Compliant
Do You need to know more about HIPAA Compliance for Building Healthcare based Mobile Applications?
HIPAA Compliance; an act to control the mishandling, inappropriate usage, and sharing of patient data is a savior for the healthcare, and insurance industry. Be it for the betterment of healthcare authorities, companies that store patients’ data, or for the sake of patients, HIPAA compliance keeps everyone in a secure zone.
This ensures better data protection, elevates security over healthcare information, and safe, and secure platforms to leverage. It gives patients a complete right to why, when, and how their personal information shall be used. This also provides them control if they want to give their information for marketing, and research purposes. Abiding by HIPAA rules, and regulations also mitigates the scrutiny around healthcare services online.
All-in-all, it helps create a secure, and safe platform for patients and healthcare authorities. And, this highlights to keep HIPAA compliance in mind while looking for a healthcare service provider!