The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA, was signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. It is a legislation that was enacted in order to protect patients’ health information through various security provisions and data privacy. Since the passage of this federal law, healthcare organizations have undertaken policies and procedures to comply with HIPAA. Shockingly, every year the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) finds that the majority of the organizations are not fully HIPAA compliant. There could be many reasons for this, including not having proper knowledge of the law, lack of transparency and training, insufficient resources, and tools to assess risks within their practice and many more.
It’s not like there isn’t any solution to this. Every problem has a solution, organizations just need to find the right one. With the advancement of technology and the internet of things (IoT), it has become possible to even streamline compliance efforts using software, such as HIPAAReady. Many organizations have found solace in cloud-based solutions to streamline their work processes, including software to become HIPAA compliant. Cloud solutions are changing the way businesses operate today because they offer more mobility, efficiency, and control. Improvement in software has also made it easier for organizations to spend less time and resources to become HIPAA compliant. Let’s review the HIPAA rules first before going into details about why you should be using software.
HIPAA Rules in a flash
The HIPAA Privacy Rule and the Security Rule make up the foundation of the HIPAA law. The HIPAA Privacy Rule sets the national standard for HIPAA covered entities to control access to PHI, such as how PHI should be used and disclosed. This rule gives patients their right to access, make copy or corrections in their medical record on request.
The HIPAA Security Rule sets the national standard for security and coherence, including handling of electronic protected health information (ePHI), and applies to both covered entities and business associates, especially when information is in transit between them. Security measures are established by using three main safeguards, which are administrative, technical, and physical safeguards.
Software to become HIPAA compliant
Healthcare organizations that have relied on software have had tremendous success from a compliance standpoint. Here a few key points to help understand why software should be used to become HIPAA compliant:
Arguably the most important component to ensure compliance is by maintaining documentation of all the workflows, processes, and HIPAA related documents. Auditors may ask for as many as hundreds of documents depending on the size of your organization. During audits, documents that are not related to HIPAA in any way are also reviewed. Such as work desktop procedures, facility blueprints, and organizational workflows and charts. Thankfully, cloud-based software like HIPAAReady, allows users to keep their documents organized in a single centralized space. It eliminates the hassle of needing to find scattered documents at the last minute during audits.
It is recommended that healthcare providers perform self-audits regularly to identify risks for violation of privacy or data breaches. While conducting audits manually can take up lots of work hours and resources, the software can perform these audits in a manner of clicks. Through software application’s detailed risk assessment and audit features, organizations can easily identify risks within their organization while freeing up time to focus on other tasks as well.
Ease of training management
Covered entities and business associates are required to provide training to their employees on policies and procedures as mandated by the HIPAA law. It is recommended to conduct training regularly for the best results. As such, managing training manually can be an arduous task and time-consuming. Many healthcare organizations have automated their training processes with the help of software applications by allowing users to easily assign trainees, set-up training sessions, and details of the training.
Business Associate Management
Covered entities and business associates alike are required to execute business associate agreements (BAAs) with vendors who may receive, create, maintain, or transmit any kind of protected health information (PHI) on their behalf. There could be as many as hundreds of vendors an organization can have business ties with. With software applications, organizations can access readily available forms and execute BAAs and keep them organized in one place. Organizations can also easily review these forms periodically to account for changes that take place in organizational work relationships or policies.
Why use cloud solutions?
According to a study, 94% of the businesses claimed they saw an improvement in security after switching to cloud services, while 91% said that cloud solutions make it easier to meet government compliance requirements. HIPAA compliance management applications are designed to streamline compliance efforts by eliminating complexities and reducing administrative burden. Whether it’s HIPAA or SOX, compliance is not a destination but a journey and with the right solution, your journey will be worthwhile.