If you are running a healthcare company and providing medical services to patients – you have access to a lot of sensitive information like medical records, test results, and personal details. It is crucial to handle this information responsibly and keep it secure. That’s where HIPAA compliance comes into play.
HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a set of rules and standards established in 1996 that healthcare companies need to follow in order to demonstrate their commitment to patient privacy and security.
So, why is HIPAA compliance important for healthcare companies? There are a few key reasons:
First and foremost, it’s about respecting your patients’ privacy. They trust you with their most personal health details, and it’s your responsibility to keep that information confidential. HIPAA compliance helps ensure that patient data is only accessed by authorized individuals who need it for legitimate healthcare purposes.
Secondly, being HIPAA compliant helps you avoid legal troubles. Non-compliance with HIPAA regulations can result in hefty fines, legal actions, and damage to your company’s reputation. By following the rules and implementing the necessary safeguards, you reduce the risk of facing these consequences.
Thirdly, HIPAA compliance is about data security. It requires you to have measures in place to protect electronic health records (EHRs) from unauthorized access or breaches. This could mean using secure computer systems, encrypting patient data, and implementing access controls to limit who can view or edit the information. Having proper policies and procedures in place will be crucial to this goal. It includes training your staff on privacy and security practices, ensuring they understand their responsibilities, and implementing protocols for handling patient information securely. Regular audits and assessments can help you identify any gaps in compliance and address them promptly.
According to the May 2023 report by HIPAA Journal, 2022 was a record year for HIPAA compliance enforcement with 22 settlements and civil monetary penalties (CMPs) imposed to resolve violations of the HIPAA Rules. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the body responsible for enforcement of HIPAA compliance, has faced challenges in recent years due to a significant increase in workload. “OCR investigates all data breaches of 500 or more records, and data breaches have been increasing at an alarming rate in recent years. OCR explained in its annual report to Congress that since fiscal year 2017, OCR has received a 100% increase in large breach reports, largely driven by an increase in hacking incidents, especially ransomware attacks.” (HIPAA Journal, 2023).
With an ever-growing threat landscape, the need for increased data security in a healthcare environment is more necessary than ever. If you are unsure whether or not your organization is in compliance, check out the free HIPAA Compliance Checklist to determine if you are properly protecting your patient’s data. For a more in-depth assessment of your compliance standing and needs, connect with an Elevate consulting specialist about our HIPAA HITECH services.
To read the full May 2023 HIPAA report, visit https://www.hipaajournal.com/state-of-hipaa/ .