The health care industry was restructured in 1996 by streamlining administrative procedures, by passing a law commonly called the HIPAA or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that will increase the privacy and security of the patient’s information. Not only are the health care professionals in hospitals, clinics and dental practices are affected in the HIPAA requirements, but also those other providers like call center agents, medical equipment providers and insurance staff who have access to personal health information. In the past years, the enforcement of the legislation has not been strict, with those not meeting HIPAA privacy and security requirements given few penalties only for handling the data of patients. Changes are being done slowly and surely on the implications for those companies who fail the requirements of the HIPAA, by imposing on them tougher audits and bigger fines. So if you work in an environment where there is a requirement to know and follow HIPAA guidelines and policies, you have three ways to be on track of being compliant to HIPAA.
Your first move to satisfy HIPAA compliance is by assigning a HIPAA compliance officer. A course should be completed by this officer about HIPAA compliance and his or her job would be to maintain and enforce HIPAA requirements.
You should make sure that the impact of HIPAA provisions and policies on your company is understood by all staff members. All employees should have the opportunity to have attend an ongoing staff training about HIPAA requirements. The training has to be customized, especially not all staff members have the same level of access to a patient’s data.
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Next is to make sure that all patient data are safeguarded. Therefore, all information and records of a patient should only be made accessed by authorized personnel. Sensitive data that are inputted in the computer systems should be controlled strictly, with the computer being loaded with an updated antivirus software. Also, make sure that your electronic data is regularly backed up.
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If you abide on the mentioned steps, the framework of meeting your HIPAA requirements should be ensured. Just know that the most important aspect of the process is the selection of the HIPAA compliance officer and making sure that the person receives the best training about HIPAA requirements. Once the person has completed his or her training, he or she should be ready to put in place in all areas of the organization the HIPAA requirements, should conduct the training of staff and establishing procedures of security and management of patients data, and to make sure that computer systems are secured and backed up. Meeting the requirements of HIPAA will ensure your company to be compliant.