The difference between high quality and low-quality IT support could cost you a lot of money. How much? In theory, at least $ 1.6 million.
That’s not an exaggeration – consider how the Texas Health and Human Services Commission was hit with that big of a fine for failing to conduct an organization-wide HIPAA risk analysis, as well as for being generally noncompliant.
It can be easy to assume that the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is only really concerned with the “big fish” in HIPAA compliance. Investigations can take years, so why would they worry about smaller healthcare organizations like yours and your potentially minor data breach, when they can focus on major ones?
In fact, the OCR is just as willing to investigate your minor data breach as they are major ones like Anthem’s. Frensenius Medical Center was handed a $3.5 million fine after five data breaches, each of which affected fewer than 300 patients.
Whether you’re managing your HIPAA compliance on your own, or you’ve invested in healthcare IT solutions for your practice, you need to have a strategy in place. Have you taken care of the following five steps?
Develop A Plan
With roughly 50 “implementation specifications” split up into administrative, physical, and technical safeguards, the HIPAA Security Rule is a lot to take in. Instead of wading right into the specifics, take the time to understand the big picture. A resource like the HHS website can help you get started.
Give The Proper Responsibilities To The Proper Individuals
You’ll need to appoint a Privacy and a Security Officer as part of your HIPAA requirements. While not specifically asked for, you’ll also need to have members of your team handling compliance documentation. Individuals with good organizational and writing skills are needed in this position, given that documenting your actions is a huge part of HIPAA compliance. A designated Security Officer and clear documentation are required to meet the Administrative Safeguards.
Make Sure Your Staff Contributes To Compliance
An effective HIPAA compliance plan has to teach your staff how to handle a range of potential situations:
Plan Ahead For Future Audits and Reviews
You are required by HIPAA to regularly revisit your HIPAA compliance policies and procedures in order to make sure they keep in line with changes to regulations, and changes within your organization. The more meticulous and systematic your documentation is, the easier it will be to go back and make periodic reviews or make adjustments down the road.
Don’t Assume You’re Invulnerable
You’ll never be so compliant and so secure that you’re risk-free. This entire process is about minimizing, not eliminating risk. That’s why you need a plan in place for when you suspect you have experienced a breach or become noncompliant. Have contingencies in place for the worst-case scenarios, so that you’re never caught off guard.
If you start with these five points, you’ll at least have a foundation in place for your HIPAA compliance. If you think it sounds complicated, well, you’re right – but the good news is you don’t have to handle it alone.
Essential Solutions offers comprehensive compliance support for healthcare organizations like yours – enlist our expert assistance today, so you won’t have to manage it on your own any longer.
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