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Using IT Services to Maintain HIPAA Compliance

by Robert Coles
HIPAA Compliance

Compliance with The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is one of the most important things to consider when it comes to the health data of your patients. This law was enacted in 1996, and it requires that all health care providers protect patient information and comply with a series of privacy standards. The goal of this legislation is to ensure that every person receives any medical treatment they need without having their personal information compromised. Without a dedicated on-site IT professional, HIPAA compliance can be tricky, but there are many ways to combat this with the right managed IT outsourcing partner.

How can IT services help achieve HIPAA compliance? 

To ensure that your company meets HIPAA compliance requirements, you’ll need to understand the following: 

  • The different types of risk involved in privacy and security. 
  • How to identify these risks through regular data audits. 
  • Where the most significant threats to patient data lie. 
  • What solutions are available for mitigating these risks and addressing them with IT services. 

Breaches in data privacy and security not only cost companies an estimated $4,000,000 yearly, they will also do irreversible damage to your business’s reputation and image facing customers. If you break HIPAA rules there are serious consequences, some including sanctions from professional boards, criminals charges such as fines and even imprisonment. Three major rules from the HIPAA Security Rule apply to technology: Any technology that stores PHI must automatically log out after a certain time to prevent access by someone without credentials, anyone with access to PHI must have a unique login that can be audited based on their use, and PHI must be encrypted.   

Challenge 1: Pre-Employment 

As you are aware, HIPAA compliance is not just about security. It’s also about protecting the privacy of your patients’ health information. The first step in this process is to ensure that all new hires understand the importance of HIPAA compliance. 

This can be a challenge because while many employees might know they are part of a healthcare organization or be familiar with the purpose of HIPAA, it is likely that they do not fully grasp how it affects their day-to-day activities or what steps they can take to ensure their company remains compliant with the law’s requirements. In these instances, an effective onboarding process should provide new hires with an overview of what it means for them to work at your practice and help them understand how they can contribute to maintaining compliance. 

Challenge 2: Engagement 

Addressing challenge 2, engagement is not just a legal requirement but also an opportunity to protect your customers and employees, be a good corporate citizen and maintain your company’s reputation. To achieve this, you need to: 

  • Communicate the importance of HIPAA compliance to all staff members 
  • Continually update staff on new HIPAA policies, and ensure training stays up to date 

It is crucial to your business’s success that your employees understand the importance of HIPAA compliance. Compliance is key in gaining the trust of your patients and therefore retaining them in your practice.  HIPAA policies are ever developing; therefore, your training should follow suit. Make sure that your employees are up to date on all HIPAA policies that they need to be aware of.  

Challenge 3: Retention 

Retention policies are designed to ensure that data is kept for a specified period. The length of time you keep specific data depends on the type of data and what laws apply to your business. For example, many companies have retention policies that require them to keep employee files for at least 3 years after an employee’s last payment date. 

This policy can be problematic when it comes to HIPAA compliance because many states require covered entities (or business associates) to destroy PHI as soon as it is no longer needed for treatment or payment purposes. If a business has a retention policy that requires them to retain employee files past the point where they are no longer required by their state law—for example, if they were required by law in Massachusetts but not in New York—then they may need some additional steps taken on their behalf so they can continue being compliant with both sets of standards without breaking any laws themselves! 

With the help of IT services, you can maintain HIPAA compliance. 

You may be wondering how IT services can help you maintain HIPAA compliance. If you are in the healthcare industry and want to ensure that your organization is fully compliant with HIPAA, then turning to a company like ours might be the right decision. 

With our IT support services, we can help your business achieve and maintain HIPAA compliance by providing a wide range of services, including network monitoring and management, infrastructure maintenance and support, disaster recovery planning and testing, etc. Our teams are highly trained in these areas so they will be able to keep your network secure while also maintaining its integrity at all times. 

Additionally, if you think that there is a chance that your company could run into any potential violations of the HITECH Act (or other related legislation), then let us know about it immediately so we can take care of those issues before they get out of hand. 

 

IT services can be your solution to achieving HIPAA compliance. However, this is not a one-size-fits-all situation and it depends on your specific needs. If you are in the healthcare industry and need assistance with managing clinical data or improving patient experience, contact us today! 

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