In 1996 the United States government passed a law that would not only change healthcare forever but would also enforce strict penalties for anyone who no longer practiced compliance. In the middle of what's now known as "the dot-com bubble", the government penned The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or what is more commonly known as HIPAA. HIPAA provides data privacy and provisions to security with a purpose of safeguarding medical information.
Staying HIPAA compliant is a huge problem that many practices, hospitals, and businesses within the healthcare industry face on a daily basis. Protecting Patient Health Information or PHI is something that each of these different entities has to take into account while conducting business. But how do you stay compliant? Below we've listed 6 ways to ensure that you remain HIPAA compliant.
1. REVIEW YOUR RISK ANALYSIS
Gone are the days when you could leave your risk analysis document on a shelf to collect dust. It is important that you take it upon yourself to review your risk analysis document at least once per year and be sure to document any significant changes. These may include; moving to a new location, relocating IT equipment to a new data center; or implementing a new EHR system. If nothing has changed in a year, you still need to make a note of it.
2. ENSURE YOUR CLIENTS FOLLOW HIPAA
One of the hardest parts about being HIPAA compliant is ensuring that your business partners are as well. You obviously can't manage their efforts towards HIPAA compliance but they can still cause a data breach, potentially costing you millions of dollars. To ensure that your business partners are HIPAA compliant, demand that they provide significant evidence of their compliant business practices.
3. CONDUCT EMPLOYEE HIPAA CHECKS
Since you can manage your employees it is important that you consistently run HIPAA audits on them. Check their work areas to ensure that passwords are not visible, take a deep dive into their workspace to make sure that no sensitive information can be found, and look at how they are documenting their tasks.
4. ENCRYPT AND BACKUP DATA
We live in a world where data encryption is becoming increasingly important. We consistently hear of huge data leaks that result in millions of dollars in damages. It is important to encrypt all devices that come in contact with ePHI, even personal devices are at risk of a breach. Furthermore, if you don't backup your data you are at risk of losing all of your patients information.
5. PREVENT RANSOMWARE ATTACKS
Increases in data encryption are a result of an increase in the frequency of ransomware attacks. However, just because your data is encrypted doesn't mean that you are safe from ransomware attacks. All of your employees should have the latest version of anti-malware installed on their computer. Furthermore, you should educate your employees on safe data security practices.
6. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR PROCESSES ON THE CLOUD
Cloud-based compliance solutions help you not only manage your compliance policies automatically but also give you the ability to manage everything that your employees are doing at the click of a button. They are easy to use, convenient, and provide you with a safe way to stay HIPAA Compliant.