9 Easy-to-Implement HIPAA Compliance Tips
Healthcare organizations found guilty of HIPAA violations may face stiff fines. In 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) imposed over $19M in fines on HIPAA-covered entities and business associates. In this blog, we offer nine simple tips to help your healthcare practice meet HIPAA compliance requirements:
1. Eliminate Information Disposal Risks
Negligent information disposal practices can lead to medical record breaches and subsequent HIPAA fines. A secure shredding service ensures expired patient records are destroyed promptly and securely. A Certificate of Destruction issued at the end of each destruction project documents your practice’s compliance with HIPAA disposal requirements.
2. Implement a Clean Desk Policy
For your practice to meet HIPAA compliance requirements, protected health information (PHI) must be kept confidential at all times. Medical records and patient data should never be left in plain view, so implement a clean desk policy to ensure patient records are filed away when not in use. Likewise, computer monitors and mobile devices should not be left in plain view for others to see.
3. Back Up Patient Data
Backup PHI to safeguard it from ransomware and cyber attacks. Whether you choose a cloud backup service or an offline backup solution, choose a backup routine and stick to it.
4. Protect Your Backups
Maintaining a strict chain of custody for your backup media is key to HIPAA compliance. Invest in a media rotation and delivery service to prevent unauthorized access to PHI. Your tapes and hard drives are routinely transferred to a media vault for secure offsite storage. Purpose-built for data protection, a media vault offers:
- Ceramic fiber walls to protect media from fire
- Waterless fire suppression
- 24-hour video surveillance
- Alarm monitoring systems
Environmental control sensors keep temperature and relative humidity at ideal levels for the long-term preservation of your media.
5. Update Your Devices
All computers and mobile devices in your practice should have anti-malware and anti-virus scanning software installed. This safeguards your healthcare practice against hacking and malicious attacks that put PHI at risk.
6. Encrypt Digital Messages
More and more healthcare providers use digital messaging applications to communicate with their patients. Make sure yours are protected with a robust data encryption solution.
7. Store Documents Offsite
Limiting the number of medical records you have stored on-site lowers the risk of medical identity theft and HIPAA violations. A medical records management service offers secure offsite storage and management of medical files, patient charts, and X-rays.
Your inactive medical records inventory is transferred to a HIPAA-compliant records center where it’s indexed to your specifications and tracked with barcodes. Advanced document management software offers a secure web link that allows for:
- Viewing medical records online
- Assigning retention schedules
- Creating customized reports
You should have 24/7/365 access to your medical records inventory with authorized copies made available to your patients at your request.
8. Train Your Employees
Your employees are the first line of defense from healthcare data breaches. Provide them with up-to-date, ongoing training on HIPAA compliance requirements and the handling of PHI.
9. Partner with HIPAA-Compliant Providers
HIPAA compliance takes a team effort. Make sure any vendors you partner with offer HIPAA-compliant services.
For more HIPAA compliance tips, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.
Richards & Richards offers secure medical records management services for businesses throughout Nashville.