Medical records are extremely private and their exposure could lead to negative consequences such as social stigma and job discrimination. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects this information and grants patients the right to view their own health information so that they can enjoy more control over their care. Healthcare practices must therefore make sure that they got all their bases covered when it comes to HIPAA compliance. Below are four of the most important ones to consider.
1. HIPAA approved doesn not always mean HIPAA compliant
If your practice has invested in or is thinking about investing in telehealth or mobile health (mHealth), then you need to make sure that the tech you utilize is HIPAA-compliant. While most telehealth technology is HIPAA-approved, one or two additional measures may be required to make it compliant. An IT specialist should have no problem making sure your telehealth is up to code.
On the other hand, mHealth may be a little more problematic. While a lot of hardware and apps, including Fitbit and Apple Watch, are HIPAA-compliant, mHealth is a field that is still very new and constantly changing. Your best bet is to consult with an expert to make sure your mHealth services are following all the necessary regulations.
2. All information needs to be HIPAA-compliant
Electronic health records (EHRs) and any sensitive documents like billing records, appointment information, and test results must be stored in HIPAA-compliant devices and servers. More specifically, your devices and services should have multiple layers of security, including endpoint protection software, encryption systems, and strict access controls.
A lot of medical practices that use cloud-based storage for their EHRs overlook this fact and opt for low-cost platforms that don’t meet certain minimums. While it’s good to have your EHRs ready to go in the cloud, make sure that your non-EHR data is protected as well. If it isn’t, you could be facing a fine.
3. Your protected health information (PHI) notice must be available online
If your practice has a website, HIPAA’s rules dictate that your website must contain a copy of your updated PHI notice for patients to access. If this information is not currently posted on your website, rectify this as soon as possible to avoid any problems.
4. Healthcare business associates must also be HIPAA-compliant
Conformity to HIPAA regulations is not just limited to medical practices, healthcare clearinghouses, and health plan organizations. Any business that has access, electronic or otherwise, to PHI is also required by law to be HIPAA-compliant. This includes any accounting or law firms you work with that may already be accessing your files electronically to carry out work.
To avoid any potential trouble for your practice or its partners, it is best to ask them if they are HIPAA-compliant before partnering with them. If they aren’t, revoke all data access privileges, and make sure they take action to correct this issue immediately.