The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a policy instituted in 1996 to ensure the protection of the health records of private citizens. It is most widely known for guaranteeing doctor-patient confidentiality.
The law, however, extends far beyond its most well-known provisions. Ensuring that your business is compliant with HIPAA standards is essential if you or any of your employees handle patient records.
Industries governed by HIPAA
To those without any connection to the healthcare industry, it can be surprising to learn how many businesses are responsible for handling and protecting patient records. Hospitals and independent doctors’ offices are the most obvious record keepers, but patient records may change hands many times during treatment and administration.
Insurance companies, medical equipment providers and pharmacies are just a few of the types of businesses responsible for protecting the privacy of such records. In fact, anyone who qualifies as a covered entity, a business associate of a healthcare provider is bound by HIPAA.
Protecting health records
For businesses affected by HIPAA regulatory compliance, there is a serious incentive to make sure that records are as well protected as possible. If physical records are in play, that means restricting who has access to files. Most of the time, however, modern records are digitized and their security is an IT concern.
There are many rules that govern the security of electronic health records (EHR). It is crucial to ensure that network access is restricted and only those with proper authorization are able to work with patient records. It is also important to strictly enforce rules regarding employees’ ability to work with records on their personal devices if your business has adopted a bring-your-own-device policy.
All of these strategies should supplement strong data security safeguards against hackers and other outside actors that may want to compromise your network.
Staying up-to-date on compliance
Organizations affected by HIPAA regulatory compliance also need to select a member of the organization to be trained in HIPAA regulatory compliance and take responsibility for HIPAA regulations on a day-to-day basis.
HIPAA compliance is crucially important to your business’s success and reputation, but with the right mindset, it’s not nearly as difficult as it sounds.
If you’re ready to make sure your network is airtight and compliant with HIPAA policy, it’s a good idea to talk to your managed IT services provider. Great digital security is only a phone call away.