Becoming HIPAA Compliant

There is no quick way to becoming HIPAA compliant. HIPAA compliance means putting in place controls and safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of protected health information and developing policies and processes in line with the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (1996), the HIPAA Privacy Rule (2000), the HIPAA Security Rule (2003), the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (2009), and the Omnibus Final Rule (2013).

To achieve HIPAA compliance, you will need to review the full text of HIPAA (45 CFR Parts 160, 162, and 164) – which the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights has condensed into 115 pages – and apply those rules to your own company.

This can be a scary prospect, especially considering the severity of the penalties for HIPAA breaches and the results of a breach of protected health information or patient privacy.

If your company wishes to begin providing products and services to the healthcare industry and you want to become HIPAA compliant, a HIPAA compliance checklist is a good beginning point. The checklist should include all provisions of the HIPAA Privacy, Security, Omnibus, and Breach Notification Rules. By using a checklist, you can carefully review the safeguards, policies, and procedures you need to put in place.

It is strongly advised that you work with a third-party HIPAA compliance solution provider to assist you becoming HIPAA compliant and confirm that your policies, procedures, and practices are in line with HIPAA Rules. A third-party assessment of HIPAA compliance will give peace of mind that you have put in place all appropriate safeguards to ensure any protected health information you create, store, maintain, or transmit is appropriately safeguarded.

HIPAA Compliance Certification

Vendors that have created products or services that would be of benefit to healthcare groups are required to provide reasonable assurances to HIPAA-covered groups that they are conscious of the requirements of HIPAA. They will need to portray they have trained staff on HIPAA Rules and technology that will be used in relation to ePHI is secure and appropriate privacy protections have been established. That is completed by means of a Business Associate Agreement.

There is no officially authorized compliance certification federal and state regulators of HIPAA Rules, but there are businesses that offer such a service. Obtaining HIPAA compliance certification says that HIPAA standards have been adhered to and completion of the certification process will provide further reassurances to potential clients that you are compliant with all aspects of HIPAA Rules.

External audits of HIPAA compliance are beneficial as they will spot any aspects of HIPAA compliance that have been overlooked, permitting action to be taken to address deficiencies and avoid a fine for noncompliance.

Staying HIPAA Compliant

While you can become HIPAA compliant and establish appropriate safeguards, policies and procedures, remaining compliant can be difficult.

HIPAA compliance is a constant process and efforts must continue to ensure that security measure remain effective and staff do not forget their responsibilities with respect to PHI and HIPAA. Regular risk analyses need to be completed to identify new risks to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of PHI and those dangers must be properly managed and reduced to an acceptable level.

Documentation must be kept on your compliance efforts as it will need to be reviewed by regulators in the event of an audit, if a complaint is made about your organization, or if you suffer a breach of protected health information.

A third-party HIPAA compliance solution supplier can provide ongoing HIPAA training and assistance with your HIPAA compliance program, including assisting you conduct risk analyses, provide staff training, conduct internal audits, and carry out documentation checks.

About Thomas Brown
Thomas Brown worked as a reporter for several years on ComplianceHome. Thomas a seasoned journalist with several years experience in the healthcare sector and has contributed to healthcare and information technology news publishers. Thomas has a particular interest in the application of healthcare information technology to better serve the interest of patients, including areas should has data protection and innovations such as telehealth.