No medical practice wants to get sued for over-sharing private patient information by breaching HIPAA restrictions, but understanding your legal obligations is difficult when the rules for compliance change every few years. This is the reason a HIPPA compliance checklist was created.
However, the stakes have never been higher for complying with HIPAA, as private practices around the country are regularly required to pay thousands in legal fees for not taking patient privacy as seriously as they should.
Ignorance of current HIPAA regulations is never considered a viable excuse in court, meaning that you need to ensure that your entire team stays current with the HIPAA compliance checklist to ensure you avoid spending time in court.
What is this checklist and what should you do to ensure you follow it completely? This article will teach you what you need to know the HIPPA compliance checklist.
What Do You Need in a HIPAA Compliance Checklist?
As HIPAA has been U.S. law for the last twenty years, there is no longer any grace for not understanding its requirements. For this reason, it’s important to follow a HIPAA compliance checklist to ensure that you accurately follow its requirements for every patient that you treat.
Creating a comprehensive checklist for HIPAA compliance that fits the specifics of your medical practice will make it easy for staff members to know how to best pass along sensitive medical information and who it can be legally shared with.
Ideally, this checklist will cover every aspect of how information is shared and stored in your practice, including topics like computer safety, best ways to talk about medical issues in front of other patients, and how to share sensitive information with insurance providers and other field experts. When followed correctly, only healthcare providers and payment providers will gain access to health information, dramatically reducing the risk that the data will be abused.
A compliance checklist will cover the following requirements for protecting patient medical privacy.
– Prevent third-parties from accessing sensitive health documents unless the patient in question gave formal consent to share it.
– Provide patients with breach notification information if their private information is shared in a way that they didn’t agree to.
– Give an account of all personal information disclosures and explain their reasoning.
Steps for Setting Up a 2017 HIPPA Compliance Checklist
Setting up a checklist is one of the best steps that you can take to ensure that you comply with federal regulations for HIPAA. Making this checklist requires looking closely at the official rules for HIPAA as are published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Put simply, complying with HIPAA requires obeying the following six rules:
1. Standardize Electronic Transmissions
HIPAA requires that the entire country communicates about healthcare in a unified way, so make sure you match your coding with the formal requirements so that your documents can easily be understood by anyone in the healthcare industry.
2. Use Unique Identifiers for Your Organization
According to HIPAA legislation, every healthcare organization needs a unique 10-digit National Provider Identifier (NPI). These are used for encoding and transmitting healthcare data, and they ensure that doctors won’t be confused for each other.
3. Protect Your Patients’ Privacy
Following HIPAA Privacy Rule is the most important part of complying with HIPAA, and it’s important to be familiar with these rules to understand what rights patients have to be informed and in control of their own health care. By carefully reviewing this rule, you can create an actionable checklist for helping your organization comply with every aspect of it in the ways that make sense for your situation.
4. Better Secure Your Electronic Medical Information
Sad but true, data breaches are a part of the reality of regular life. However, having proper standards in place to protect electronic data will significantly reduce the risk that it will be compromised and seen by the wrong people. The HIPAA Security Rule summary goes through the details of protecting your sensitive patient data to prevent it getting compromised from poor management practices.
5. Stay Familiar with the Penalties for Violations
According to the HIPAA Enforcement Rule, there are stiff penalties in place for failing to comply with regulations, frequently as high as $50,000 per violation per day, along with criminal penalties. Ensure your staff is familiar with these repercussions of not taking HIPAA as seriously as they should to prevent oversite over the next year.
6. Prepare to Handle Information Breaches
Information breaches might be inevitable in medical practice, but there’s much you can do to minimize the damage when they happen. Depending on the type of breach, you might need to pass on the information to the affected patients or seek more powerful backup. Having a policy set in place with a HIPAA breach compliance checklist will ensure that your staff knows what to do when the situation arises.