Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA) become a law and requires assurance of patients rights, privacy and security of information. HIPAA privacy became mandatory and the healthcare businesses need to comply with the rules and assure that the regulations are implied.

HIPAA compliance is from whom?

A covered entity under HIPAA includes any person or company that provides medical, dental or any healthcare services that transmit the protected health information of patients electronically. This includes sending prescriptions to pharmacies, bills to insurance companies, emails to patients. Business associates or vendors that create, transmit, receive or store PHI for a covered entity. All the mentioned above should comply with HIPAA.

Steps to be taken for HIPAA compliance:

If you are entitled to HIPAA compliance either as a covered entity or business associate, you are responsible to keep the public health information in utmost safety and security. Certain steps need to be followed for the compliance of HIPAA that are as follows:

1] Develop written privacy policy: A specifically written strategy should be followed for the compliance of HIPAA and before this, you need to be familiar with the details of the security policies and privacy laws.

2] Designating the privacy and security officer: Irrespective of the size of the organization the office who will be responsible for the HIPAA compliance should be appointed.

3] Annual HIPAA risk assessment: A thorough annual risk assessment should be carried out to identify any areas of threat or vulnerabilities. The assessments should be well documented, accurate and comprehensive to identify the underlying threats.

4] Developing information assurance: Policies regarding the electronic transmission of communication of information should be there. This includes email and uses of mobile devices that have access to public health information.

5] Information regarding privacy policy: If you fall into the category of covered entity you are bound to inform and distribute a notice of privacy practices to all patients new or old.

6] Agreement with a business associate: For HIPAA compliance you need to have an agreement with an outside company that will access the public health information.

7] Steps or course of action in case of breach: However even after strict compliance if there is any breach, there should be a clear course of action or steps should be developed and implemented in this situation. Also, there should be a strategy to be followed to determine the extent and timing of breach.

Demonstration of HIPAA compliance:

If your organization is a covered entity it should be able to provide sufficient proof that the employees and yourself are following the rules set for compliance. If there is a breach of the rules or there is mishandling of PHI or disclosed, the investigation is to carry out to determine the penalty or the need to arrive at a settlement plan that will cover the required corrective action plan. It is required to prove that in writing that the organization has conducted HIPAA risk assessment and also trained the employees about the rules, policies, and procedures for protecting PHI.

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