Healthcare organizations have to think carefully about the way they handle and protect confidential data—and not just because data theft can be costly, but also because HIPAA regulations require it.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was created to protect important and sensitive information relating to patients, and it is hugely important for businesses to ensure their systems and procedures are fully compliant. HIPAA makes sure that healthcare businesses meet a certain requirement level when it comes to data protection and security.
To make sure your business is fully compliant, it’s critical that you get regular HIPAA assessments conducted by a professional healthcare IT consultant. Without regular analyses of your systems and their ability to meet these legal regulations, you could face hefty non-compliance fees and even patient lawsuits, making it hard for your business to bounce back.
HIPAA is Vital for Business
One of the biggest advantages of HIPAA is that it has played a very important role in helping maintain privacy when it comes to patient information. In 2018 alone, more than 15 million patients in the healthcare sector saw their information compromised due to security incidents and data breaches.
Cybersecurity has become a huge issue among modern businesses, and especially organizations in the healthcare sector, which is the number one most targeted industry for cyberattacks. Even the American Medical Collection Agency was hacked during an 8 month period in 2018 and 2019, and it is believed that there was a total of close to 25 million people who were affected by this hack.
As you might imagine, people can become highly distressed when their information is leaked and when it falls into the wrong hands. This can damage a company’s reputation, sometimes irreparably, as well as lead to enormous financial losses. This is why compliance with HIPAA regulations has become such an essential part of running a healthcare organization and why those regulations continue to expand.
What if You’re Not HIPAA Compliant?
Not only is a lack of HIPAA compliance unprofessional from a viewpoint of protecting your business and its customers, it’s also illegal. If you don’t make sure you comply with HIPAA regulations, you could wind up looking at a fine of up to $50,000 for a single violation and even higher penalties for multiple violations. Furthermore, you may be required to compensate patients who are victims, and in some cases, your healthcare organization could go out of business altogether.
Who Needs a HIPAA Assessment?
If you run an office in the healthcare industry or a business that handles protected health information (PHI), you need a HIPAA assessment. Even medical lawyers and billing companies need to make sure they protect their clients’ data. Further, if your company has made any changes to its infrastructure or upgraded technology recently, it’s important to get a HIPAA assessment to ensure your current IT is compliant. If it’s simply been awhile since you’ve completed an assessment, it may be time to get another to ensure everything is up-to-date with continually changing regulations.
How Assessment Can Help Your Business
Data protection in the healthcare industry is an absolute must, and an assessment can help you do just that. A HIPAA assessment evaluates your entire IT infrastructure and associated policies and procedures to ensure that they meet the most current regulations available. A healthcare IT consultant will identify areas of security weakness in your systems and suggest ways to repair them.
As part of their assessment, a professional should follow the guidelines outlined in the HIPAA Privacy rule and determine how protected health information is being handled in relation to the following criteria:
- Which personnel have access to PHI
- Disclosures of PHI
- Breach notification policies and procedures
- Employee HIPAA compliance training
- Overall privacy and confidentiality of PHI
Understanding where your systems stand in relation to meeting HIPAA criteria is critical for your business to remain protected and compliant. As a professional consults with you on ways you can improve the privacy and security of PHI, you can better protect your patients and your reputation.