The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is crucial to the healthcare industry. It is the responsibility of healthcare providers, insurance companies, and hospitals to comply with the HIPAA to ensure the protection of confidential data of patients. There are three major components of the HIPAA privacy rule that healthcare organizations must strictly comply with.
Healthcare practitioners are required to ensure the safety of the confidential information of patients they have on record. HIPAA wants to prevent data breaches and other similar events that would compromise this confidential data. The law is very clear on the compliance to ensure all healthcare practitioners and all other employees who handle confidential data are compliant.
The three components of HIPAA privacy rule compliance cover three areas and these are physical security, technical security, and administrative security.
The administrative requirements of the HIPAA dictate that entities must:
- Designate an executive to supervise data security and strict compliance with HIPAA.
- Ensure proper identification of employees that have unrestricted access to the confidential data of patients.
- Ensure the privacy procedures are written in a document.
- Ensure third-parties who require access to the protected patient data information to sign contracts that they will abide by the HIPAA requirements.
- Make sure there is a back up of data and ensure there is a provision for an emergency plan for situations that could lead to loss of information.
- Perform of an annual data security assessment.
- Create a data breach response plan that informs the affected individuals and repairing IT systems that have been compromised.
On the other hand, the physical security requirements help your company avoid theft of crucial devices that contains confidential information about your patients. You can also follow these steps to safeguard the classified information of your patients:
- Ensure a thorough training of your employees and contractors on the best professional procedures to perform their tasks.
- Make sure computers are kept behind the counters and away from prying eyes.
- Ensure restricted areas are secure and require visitors to sign in whenever they visit your company premises.
- Make use of HIPAA compliant bags and storage devices to secure important documents to prevent theft.
- Follow professional procedures when you want to upgrade or discard software and hardware.
The HIPAA also has technical security requirements to ensure the protection of your networks and devices from being breached such as:
- Encrypting confidential files sent via email by your company. It is also important to ensure that the cloud-based platform used by your company provides encryption of files to avoid data breach.
- Training your team members on simple means of recognizing and shunning fraudulent mails.
- Using firewalls and intrusion detection and prevention systems to ensure the protection of your network from cyber criminals.
- Ensuring your data is backed up.
- Ensuring proper authentication of data transfer to third parties by asking for a password, token or a callback.
- Encouraging your team members to change their passwords regularly and to enforce use of strong passwords.
- Keeping a record of your company’s network and technology configurations.
- Hiring professional consultants to ensure you meet the strict security standards of the HIPAA.
You need to protect confidential healthcare information within your organization. It is your responsibility and the HIPAA will hold you accountable for any breaches. Compliance with the HIPAA privacy rule entails an investment of money, time, and the collaboration of all team members and employees. It might be difficult but it is necessary.
Non-compliance comes with severe penalties. However, having a cyber liability policy ensures you and your patients are protected in case of a data breach. It covers the payment for informing the individuals whose data were exposed and offers them credit and fraud monitoring services. In a case where you are charged to court by the patients whose data is breached, the cyber liability insurance will pay for your legal fees.