Proven 7 Step Process for Ensuring Rapid HIPAA Compliance
HIPAA policies and procedures are without question one of the most important mandates for ensuring compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 – no question about it – as both the HIPAA Security Rule and Privacy Rule alone require dozens of policies to be in place. It can be a challenging endeavor, and it’s why Covered Entities (CE) and Business Associates (BA) should take note of the following best practices regarding HIPAA compliance:
1. Assess Responsibilities: It’s important to understand if you’re either a Covered Entity (CE) or a Business Associate (BA) – and for obvious reasons – as CE’s generally have much greater HIPAA responsibilities as opposed to BA’s. More specifically, CE’s have to comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule mandates, while BA’s have much smaller requirements with the Privacy Rule itself.
2. Develop Policies and Procedures: HIPAA policies and procedures are incredibly important and vital to ensuring the success of annual compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), no question about it. Don’t believe us, then just spend some reading through the actual HIPAA Security Rule and HIPAA Privacy Rule requirements and you’ll see terms such as “policies” and “procedures” literally sprinkled throughout the entire HIPAA rulings. Developing such documentation on your own can take literally hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars, so it’s vital to seek out a comprehensive packet complete with all necessary HIPAA policies and procedures.
3. Implement Security Awareness Training: HIPAA policies and procedures are critical for compliance, but don’t forget one of the biggest mandates for complying with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 – security awareness training for all employees. With all the options available online today, HIPAA security awareness training is a relatively easy and straightforward process, one that has also become quite cost-effective.
4. Undertake an Annual Risk Assessment: Assessing organizational and security risk in today’s world of cybersecurity threats and attacks – while a strict mandate for HIPAA compliance – is also a very good best practice every business should be striving to undertake. With up to fifteen (15) major categories of risks currently identified, organizations will without question find gaps and deficiencies within one’s control environment that needs remediation and enhancement. Being in business is about understanding risks and threats so you don’t go out of business.
5. Assess Third Party Security and Compliance: With today’s world of outsourcing growing larger by the minute, it seems as if everyone is outsourcing some type of service or function to another company. That’s fine, but keep in mind that strict regulatory compliance mandates – and best practices – need to be followed for ensuring the safety and security of sensitive data, such as PHI.
6. Time for a Culture Change: Simply developing HIPAA policies and procedures and implementing security awareness training – and other initiatives – is not enough. It’s about making a culture change, one that creates a true understanding and awareness of what HIPAA compliance really is and what is means. Management must be the champions driving the change, if not, expect business as usual with minimal changes taking place. Nobody likes change, but in the spirit of compliance and information security best practices, it has to happen.
7. HIPAA is a moving target: That’s right, compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires a constant commitment for ensuring all relevant internal controls are monitored, functioning as required, along with numerous other measures. It’s not an overnight process when it comes to HIPAA, but over time companies can put in place the necessary framework for ensuring the safety of PHI.