Since its legislation over twenty years ago, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has received both positive and negative comments. The negative aspect has mostly involved the genuine danger of data breaches. Information that‘s readily available online shows that hacking makes up 23% of HIPAA data breaches.
Hiring healthcare workers who will know when to release information and when to withhold data has also been a big challenge.
The positive aspect is that you can keep your health insurance if you move from one employer to another and sharing of information between medical practitioners is easier. A large percentage of people agree that the positives outweigh the negatives. That is why the law was enacted and is now vigorously enforced.
If you are in the healthcare business, you need to avoid fines that can run up to $1.5 million per violation in a year. Employee training will help your business a great deal in this regard.
Here are six tips that can help you do precisely that:
1. Encryptions and Firewalls
As already mentioned, the statistics on the hacking of healthcare systems that house medical records is very damning. Thus, you need to set up a secure firewall system to thwart any attempts to access the system illegally. The firewall needs to be up-to-date all the time.
Data encryption when sending out electronic communication such as emails is also essential. It prevents hackers from viewing the content of the messages sent. This is important since the encryption is not end-to-end.
2. Possession of Devices Containing Patient Records
It is common practice to keep records on portable devices in case you need to use them on the go. These devices, especially mobile phones can be easily stolen. Therefore, it is essential to keep them out of the wrong hands at all time.
Train your employees to be aware of the location of the devices they are handling at all times. They should also shut down or switch off the devices when they are not in use.
3. Store Files Properly
Filing paper and saving of an electronic file on the computer is an activity that we all do without putting much thought into it. Healthcare workers cannot afford to make this mistake. Misfiling a record or saving a file on the wrong network can lead to HIPAA violations since it can easily fall into the wrong hands.
Remind your employees to take extra care when doing these seemingly simple tasks.
4. Dispose of Paper Files Well
Many healthcare companies have entirely switched to electronic filing. Papers are only used when writing prescriptions for patients. Nevertheless, for some, paper filing is still a small important part of the business due to one reason or another.
If your business still uses paper filing, the proper way to discard paper waste is to shred the papers before throwing them away.
5. Encourage Continuous Learning about HIPAA
HIPAA guidelines keep on changing to keep up with the changing times. Whenever there is a change, training should be held. Mention the penalties that the employee and the business will incur should they not strictly adhere to the guidelines.
This is an activity that will take time, but it is necessary.
6. Use Social Media Carefully
An active social media presence can set you apart from other healthcare business. It communicates that you value your clients enough to follow them to a place where they spend most of their time. There are no strict rules when using social media. Some companies even use social media to have light-hearted banter with their patients.
However, at no point should an employee share sensitive data about the business or the patients on social media. Even sharing information without including names is prohibited.
Ensure that your employees understand this.
In conclusion, avoiding fines for HIPAA violations is not too complicated. The above information is proof of that. The best way to avoid the violations is to train employees about HIPAA guidelines and to remind them to be focused even when doing the most mundane of tasks.
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