It can be difficult to fully comprehend HIPAA regulations. While these regulations are vital for the protection of patients’ records and other sensitive information, it can become frustrating at times trying to figure out what you can and can’t do, as well as all of the policies and guidelines you have to follow. Any little slip can result in a massive fine for your medical facility, even if it was just an accident.
Technology plays a large part in HIPAA regulations. Leaving passwords on a sticky note on your monitor, or emailing files from your personal email account are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to HIPAA regulations. Your medical facility needs a trusted managed services provider that is well versed in the intricacies of HIPAA regulations and can also help your practice or facility by teaching everyone those rules and guidelines.
As we’ve seen over and over this past year, hackers have focused their attention on attacking businesses, hospitals, and medical facilities. Patient files have been subjected to ransomware or theft. Each breach has to be reported, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR) determines the extent of the violation, and the subsequent fine.
Due to the increase of cyber attacks, the OCR has started cracking down harder on medical facilities. The push for stricter HIPAA guidelines enforcement means hospitals, doctor’s offices, and any other medical facility that keeps patient information need to increase their cyber security and conduct more training for their staffs, or risk paying hefty fines.
The general rules for HIPAA IT regulations compliance are technology-neutral, meaning there are no specific technological systems required, as long as the requirements for data protection are met. This sounds easy, but in actuality, it creates more confusion as more choices generally complicate any decision. One thing that‘s painfully clear is that the burden of proof and your ability to provide your compliance plan and execution fall squarely on the shoulders of each individual medical provider.
“No excuses accepted” is an understatement when it comes to HIPAA. There is a zero tolerance policy, and ignorance will be no excuse. Ignoring HIPAA requirements is defined as “willful negligence” and subject to extreme penalties, including fines as high as $50,000 per instance and criminal charges punishable by prison time. The OCR website has a public “list of shame” listing all compliance violators; this is certainly not the kind of publicity your practice is going for.
With HIPAA penalties becoming increasingly strict, it is imperative that your company is adhering to the regulations. The problem is, all of the rules governing IT policies can be overwhelming. Download this checklist to see if you could stand up to a HIPAA audit.
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