For medical billing services for small practices, being HIPAA compliant can be fairly difficult. Despite the fact that practice owners are knowledgeable of HIPAA requirements, there is always a chance of gaps and ignorance. In the course of the calendar year 2018, an average of 1,445 complaints were made, according to the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). Medical offices must understand how to become HIPAA Compliant in order to safeguard patient health information (PHI) and financial stability.
Step 1: Create Privacy and Security Policies
The fundamental tenet of HIPAA is that organizations must actively safeguard patient health information for a medical billing company. Actually, becoming HIPAA compliant entails more than just overseeing patient health data. The privacy and security rules you establish for your clinic must be proactive in preventing HIPAA violations. These security and privacy procedures need to be in writing, distributed to your team, and updated on a regular basis.
Training your personnel about HIPAA privacy and security regulations during orientation and at least once a year will be among your proactive measures. Your staff must certify in writing that they are familiar with and adhere to all HIPAA policies and procedures while handling patient data. Additionally, make a Notice of Privacy Practices (NPP) form and provide it out to patients for them to read and sign. The NPP should describe the privacy practices of your clinic, such as how it handles PHI, and inform patients of their ability to seek copies of their medical information.
Step 2: Delegate the HIPAA Privacy Officer
Because HIPAA law is intricate and constantly evolving, every healthcare business needs internal HIPAA experts. The HIPAA security regulation mandates the appointment of a privacy compliance officer to supervise the creation of privacy policies, ensure their implementation, and carry out yearly updates. You can organize a privacy oversight group for larger practices and engage a consultant for smaller practices. Members of the oversight committee or the privacy officer must be current on HIPAA regulations.
Step 3: Assign Safeguards
The HIPAA security rule needs three different types of protections to protect patient health information. Access to the actual locations where PHI must remains under your control. All workstations and devices that hold or transfer PHI must have security. To guarantee that employees only access the data they have an authority to see, you must have access controls to secure PHI in the EHR and other databases.
Step 4: Regular Audits
Being a HIPAA compliant practise is not enough; you must keep things that way. Becoming HIPAA compliant is a constant endeavor. HHS mandates that all administrative, technical, and physical safeguards undergoe for an audit annually in order to identify and address compliance issues. Then, the practise must produce written action plans that specifically detail their strategy for rectifying HIPAA violations and specify when they will do so.
Step 5: Sign a Business Associate Agreement.
Covered organizations must acquire sufficient assurances that a business associate is HIPAA-compliant and can adequately safeguard the data prior to sharing PHI with them. The parties must also engage into a Business Associate Agreement (BAA). Every BAA needs to be evaluated and modified once a year to account for any changes to the nature of the business associate relationship.
Step 6: Document Everything
All HIPAA compliance activities undertaken by your clinic, including privacy and security policies, risk assessments and self-audits, corrective action plans, and staff training sessions, must be documented. During HIPAA audits and complaint investigations, you can look over all of this material.
Medical practices must adhere to HIPAA regulations in order to protect patient privacy and maintain their financial viability. Healthcare providers must be HIPAA compliant in order to protect patient data, and they require billing partners who share their commitment to privacy.
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