HIPAA Policies and Procedures: Keep Your Business Compliant
If your business deals with health-related data, then ensuring you're HIPAA compliant is incredibly important. Non-compliance can lead to penalties and fines, not to mention a loss of customer trust, which can be hard to recover from.
HIPAA has far-reaching security and privacy regulations that you might need to address. Below you’ll learn how the HIPAA policies and procedures apply to your business, along with how you can implement the various security and privacy regulations.
What Are the HIPPA Policies and Procedures?
HIPPA regulations have a pretty wide scope. So, even if your business isn’t directly involved in the healthcare space, you still might have to adhere to HIPAA guidelines.
HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Its overarching goal is to help create standards of protection for sensitive patient data. Since technology evolves so quickly, it’s more important than ever to make sure your business is in alignment with the latest standards.
There’s a number of different HIPAA rules, which make up the entire HIPAA regulation:
- HIPAA Privacy Rule: This sets national standards for patient’s rights to their own sensitive health information, including things like content, right to access and more.
- HIPAA Security Rule: This sets the standards for the securing, transmitting and maintenance of sensitive health data (more on this below).
- HIPAA Omnibus Rule: This is an addendum to the standard regulation and it specifies and clarifies how your business can achieve compliance.
- HIPAA Breach Notification Rule: This specifies how a security breach must be handled, and differentiates between different types of security breaches.
All of the HIPAA privacy standards work together to help protect sensitive health information. When it comes to your business, it’s important to implement the proper protocols to remain compliant. The HIPAA security standards will probably be the most relevant to your business, as it deals with how you process and secure health data.
Understanding the HIPAA Security Standards
The HIPAA Security Rule will probably be most immediately applicable to your business. This deals with the standards your business must implement to protect the safeguarding of HIPAA PII. HIPAA PII is the classification of information you must keep secure and stands for Personally Identifiable Information.
What Makes Up HIPAA PII?
HIPAA seeks to protect any information that can be used to uniquely identify an individual. If that information were to become stolen it could be used to harm the person. The types of information below are considered sensitive and should be protected:
- Place and date of birth.
- Any biometric, medical or financial information.
- Mother’s maiden name.
- Passport numbers.
- Criminal history.
- Any other kind of information that may cause damage to the person.
The list above isn’t comprehensive, but it should give you a good idea if you need to take steps to further secure your data.
The HIPAA standards you must abide by are spelled out in the HIPAA Security Rule. Here’s a brief look at the three different levels of safeguards you need to have in place:
1. Technical Standards
These standards relate to any technology that’s connected to any health-related data. This will include things like:
- Implementing secure access control systems including usernames, passwords and authentication.
- Adding encryption and decryption mechanisms to ensure the right people have access to information.
- Ability to keep a record of data and information access.
- Safeguards to prevent unauthorized data access, like automatic system log-off.
2. Physical Standards
The HIPAA physical safeguards speak to the physical storage of data. Whether that be on the premises, in the cloud or even data centers located hundreds of miles away. Here’s a look at some of the physical standards you must abide by:
- Safeguards to prevent any unauthorized access to data stored at a physical facility.
- Workstation security protocols to ensure only authorized data access.
- Restrictions or policies surrounding data access from mobile devices.
- A record of system hardware maintenance or replacement, along with data logging.
3. Administrative Standards
The administrative rules bring together both the Privacy and Security aspects of HIPAA regulation. It involves both the creation and management of a plan to implement the above rules. Here are a few of the elements it should include:
- A contingency plan for continued operation is a breach or data loss happens to occur.
- A plan to both assign and manage third-party access to your data.
- Reporting if a security breach does occur, and the steps being taken to minimize any damage.
Ensure Data Safety to Avoid Fines
As you can see, adhering to the HIPAA Policies and Procedures will take a lot of work. But, ensuring your organization is up to the latest standards will help you avoid any fines and keep your customer’s data safe.
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