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All You Need to Know About HIPAA Compliance

By November 26, 2018 No Comments
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HIPAA is probably the best-known information security regulation. It applies to healthcare organizations or covered entities that provide services or deals with data related to the protected health information (PHI).

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) safeguards usage and sharing of patient’s data. Physicians and other healthcare providers who make electronic transactions are required to adopt certain security measures.  These measures not only safeguard the confidentiality of PHI but also ensures the integrity of data transmitted.

What is it used for?

Protected health information (PHI), also referred to as personal health information, refers to a patient’s personal information, medical histories, test and laboratory results. This information is collected by a healthcare professional to identify an individual and determine appropriate care.

Why was it needed?

Healthcare data breaches were growing exponentially, companies were suffering lawsuits and revenue loss. The countermeasure, HIPAA, was first enacted in 1996 and it is made up of a number of rules that companies have to adapt in their work practices. These are broadly divided into HIPAA Privacy Rule, HIPAA Security Rule, HIPAA Breach Notification Rule, and HIPAA Omnibus Rule. These rules must be practiced in corporate offices to ensure PHI is protected.

What do you need to get a HIPAA Compliance?

A compliance officer audits organization to ensures all the compliance regulations are in practice. Before that, you need to conduct a compliance assessment to determine how well you meet HIPAA. You can either employee an expert or hire a third-party compliance service that can review your policies and device new strategies to satisfy HIPAA rules.

HIPAA compliance rules you need to implement:

  1. HIPAA Privacy Rule:

The HIPAA Privacy Rule sets standards for patient’s rights to PHI. It demands appropriate safeguards to be implemented to protect the privacy of PHI. It sets regulations and conditions on the use and disclosure of this information without patient authorization.

It requires the covered entities to:

  • Provide training to employees to make sure that they are aware of what information may and may not be shared.
  • Maintain integrity of ePHI and the individual personal identifiers of patients.
  • Ensure written permission is taken from patients before their health information is used for marketing, fundraising or research.
  1. HIPAA Security Rule:

The HIPAA Security Rule sets standards for secure maintenance and transmission of PHI and ePHI to covered entities. It outlines standards for the safety of health care information that must be in place in any healthcare organization. It is divided into physical, administrative, and technical safeguards.

Technical Safeguards

Technical Safeguards concern the technology used in protecting ePHI and providing access to the data.  Organizations are required to add the following mechanisms:

  • Implement a means of access control
  • Introduce a mechanism to authenticate ePHI
  • Implement tools for encryption and decryption
  • Introduce activity audit controls
  • Facilitate automatic logoff

Physical Safeguards

Physical Safeguards concerns the physical access to PHI or ePHI. This information can be stored in the cloud, premise-based servers or remote data centers. It outlines rules to prevent unauthorized access to hardware components where the data is stored.

Organizations are required to:

  • Implement facility access controls
  • Use of policies relating to workstation usage
  • Add policies and procedures for mobile devices
  • Make an inventory of hardware

Administrative Safeguards

The Administrative Safeguards bring together the Privacy Rule and the Security Rule. An Officer is required to enact the measures and elements of a HIPAA compliance checklist. It requires organizations to:

  • Develop a contingency plan
  • Periodic testing of contingency plan
  • Restrict any third-party access
  • Report any security breaches
  1. HIPAA Omnibus Rule:

The HIPAA Omnibus Rule is an addition to HIPAA regulations and it clarifies procedures and policies and expanded the HIPAA compliance checklist. It now covers Business Associates and their subcontractors. This rule applies to every individual or organization that creates, maintains or transmits PHI on behalf of a covered entity. Such person or organization is termed as a Business Associate under this rule. This includes contractors, consultants, data storage companies, health information organizations, and any subcontractors.

Business Associate Agreements must be executed between a covered entity and business associate before any PHI or ePHI can be transferred or shared.

Now, it requires the covered entities to:

  • Update Business Associate Agreements
  • Issue new Business Associate Agreements
  • Update privacy policies
  • Update Notices of Privacy Practices
  • Train staff
  1. HIPAA Breach Notification Rule:

The HIPAA Breach Notification Rule requires covered entities to notify HHS OCR, the regulatory body when there is a breach of ePHI. The HIPAA Breach Notification rule sets standards that covered entities and business associates must follow in the event of a data breach containing PHI or ePHI. Organizations are required to report all breaches, regardless of their size.

Breach notifications should include:

  • The nature of the ePHI involved
  • Who used the ePHI or is known, to whom the disclosure was made
  • Whether the ePHI was actually accessed
  • How much the damage has been mitigated

The increased adaptation of information technology in the medical field has raised the concerns for securing the usage and sharing of patient’s data. HIPAA enables workers to retain health insurance coverage and ensures the protection and confidentiality of patient health information. A majority of the task are affected in an organization to constantly satisfy the changing compliance policies. Now, with the right information about HIPAA, you can go for a compliance test. A compliance certificate can be included in your brand name and utilized for business profitability.

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