Medical conditions are not typically something patients feel comfortable promoting for obvious privacy reasons. Because of this, patient information is legally kept confidential and protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
While HIPAA is simply on paper, there are a lot of considerations that go into implementing HIPAA compliance for small practices and larger entities. Practitioners and administrative staff must make sure they are following proper protocol on a technical, physical, and administrative level. Like all compliance issues, it is always best to consult a HIPAA law attorney to make sure you are legally protected.
HIPAA is enforced by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The OCR is responsible for following through with complaints of HIPAA violations.
Audits are also randomly selected by the OCR to ensure that all practices are thoroughly following the standard protocol. Prior to the selection, a screening questionnaire will be sent out to gain understanding of the practice’s size and structure. Note, failure to complete the screening may still result in selection. After the businesses have been selected, the OCR will conduct a desk and onsite audit.
The OCR process is put in place to protect civilians as well as the integrity of the healthcare industry. Those practicing medicine should lean on the department as an additional resource and reference their official citations when in doubt. A HIPAA law attorney will work with you throughout the audit process to verify compliance, and to provide legal advice.
Each practice functions differently, meaning there is not just one approach to HIPAA compliance. The best practices to preventing HIPAA privacy violations include careful storing of information and ensuring there are procedures in place for all scenarios, including unpreventable security breaches. Some overarching key strategies for preventing HIPAA violations are:
There are many simple procedures that can help ensure patient confidentiality. HIPAA should be taken seriously by all practices and be a priority at all times.
HIPAA compliance can cost a couple thousand dollars annually, but varies depending on numerous factors including a companies software package or training programs. However, this price tag includes secure and updated software, which is widely useful beyond the compliance.
It is suggested that companies examine multiple plans and select the package in their price range that best fits their HIPAA needs. The money invested into compliance programs, alleviates the larger sum at risk in a HIPAA violation lawsuit.
Legally there is no requirement to have a HIPAA seal of compliance or certification, though practices should be continuously monitoring their security procedures. Those who choose to partake in a HIPAA training program typically retrain for certification after a few years as the industry’s best practices are always changing. Again, a HIPAA law attorney can guide you in implementing new changes or protocols as technology and procedures change.
In addition to following HIPAA, California medical practices must also be aware of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which further protects personal information.
As one of the nation’s leading healthcare law firms, Fenton Law Group understands the needs and concerns of various medical practices from hospitals to family practitioner offices, and everything in between. Our attorneys have extensive knowledge on CCPA and HIPAA compliance for small practices and other medical facilities. Contact us online or call us today to discuss how your practice can better comply with privacy laws.