Importance of Being HIPAA Compliant

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted by the US government back in the year 1996 in order to increase the security and privacy of information about health. Since its beginning, HIPAA has had a significant impact on the way that sensitive patient data is handled within the health industry. The significance of being HIPAA conforming cannot be overstated since failure to conform to the rules could be punished with hefty fines or even jail sentences.

Who is required to be conformant?

Under HIPAA covered entities and business associates are required to safeguard the security for protected health information (PHI). The covered entities are health care providers, such as doctors’ practices and hospitals and also health plans, as well as clearing houses for health plans. Business associates are companies who perform services for an entity that is covered, which means they must collect or maintain PHI.

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HIPAA has a wide range of guidelines for businesses that store PHI. They must pay an emphasis on ensuring physically secure data and, in addition, access to PHI is restricted to the most important personnel. Administrators must be aware of any potential threats and regularly update security software are necessary to spot potential risks posed by scams such as phishing or data hacking.

The covered entity should have a well-balanced compliance plan in place, and make sure that all personnel involved are knowledgeable of HIPAA regulations. They must also assess their security procedures regularly and ensure that all PHI is secure. The data that is encrypted can’t be accessed when it’s stolen or lost.

Being HIPAA certified is crucial as it guarantees that the covered entity is ready in case the need for the need for an HIPAA inspection or audit.

HIPAA audits

HIPAA has an auditing program which randomly selects covered organizations to be audited. Audits are conducted in OCR, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). OCR is accountable for the enforcement of HIPAA’s privacy and security regulations.

The objective this audit serves is evaluate the compliance with HIPAA’s privacy rules and security guidelines and Breach notification regulations. It is a requirement of the Breach notification rule states that in the event of a security breach related to PHI the entity that is covered or business associate has to inform the person who was affected about the breach. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services and OCR are also required to be informed.

The HIPAA audit evaluates the procedures and procedures of the entity covered. It is important to be HIPAA conforming, as any breaches or violations discovered in an audit could trigger an investigation. If the audit finds the existence of a plausible reason to conclude that the rules of HIPAA have been breached, OCR may then open an investigation.

HIPAA Investigations

HIPAA could conduct an investigation based on negative findings of an audit that is random, as a response to a claim being made against a covered entity. All complaints are submitted to OCR. It is required by law that companies that are covered must cooperate in the investigation.

HIPAA investigations should be handled by lawyers for health care who are well-versed in HIPAA regulations. But, businesses that are HIPAA certified can present an argument that is more convincing if they’re subject to an investigation.

Effects of HIPAA Infractions

HIPAA violations are related to:

* Privacy breach in relation to PHI

* Infraction of the security rule PHI stored in electronic format

* Messages in notifications are triggered by laps.

There are various types of violations, as well as varying levels of criminal and civil sanctions under HIPAA. Penalties for violations of HIPAA vary from $100 to $50,000. If an entity believes it performed reasonable diligence but was unaware of the violation, the fine could range from $100 to $50,000 for each violation. If, however, ‘wilful disregard is established that the offense is $50k and an annual limit of $1.5mil.

Criminal penalties are enforceable in the event that PHI is given to a person under false pretenses or in connection with malicious motives. Jail sentences can range from one year up to 10 years.

Additionally, covered entities face cost when dealing with HIPAA investigations, as well as with regard to breach notification as well as corrective action.

Once you have a better understanding of what it means to stay HIPAA conforming, you should verify that your compliance program have in place is sufficient. You can seek the assistance of an experienced health law attorney Nelson Hardiman, from Los Angeles, CA, to supervise Your Compliance Program. Call 310-203-2800 to talk with an attorney.

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