5 Tips for Maintaining Compliance in Healthcare
As part of the healthcare industry, we’re sure you’re aware that it’s critical to protect patients’ information from unauthorized access. That’s exactly why federal regulations, including HIPAA, are in place to safeguard the accidental distribution of information. Healthcare providers and others who work in the healthcare industry need to invest time and energy into achieving and maintaining compliance.1more–>
If you’re trying to navigate the complex world of healthcare compliance, the following tips will help keep you on the right track.
1. Complete an up-to-date risk assessment.
A risk assessment provides a clear picture of the policies and processes that may cause an organization to be susceptible to a data breach and allows organizations the opportunity to create a plan and consider budgetary needs for patching up vulnerable areas.
Upon completing an assessment, you may find that a minor change, such as reconfiguring an office so that the public can’t view a computer monitor or making simple changes to the way that you distribute and use passwords, can solve the problem. In your assessment, include any equipment and devices that are not on your facility’s network but store or transmit data, such as X-Ray machines.
Ensure you have an up-to-date plan in place to make any necessary changes as resources become available.
2. Stay up to date with HIPAA
There have been many changes and additions made to HIPAA since it was originally signed into law in 1996.
As of late 2013, all hosting providers who are maintaining protected health information on behalf of covered entities became subject to HIPAA. They are now considered “business associates,” whether or not they actually view the information they hold.
The Omnibus Final Rule now makes business associates and subcontractors of business associates of covered entities directly liable for compliance with certain parts of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rule requirements. Simply put, the Omnibus Rule puts liability on the provider. All covered physician practices were required to have updated their HIPAA policies and procedures regarding the Omnibus Rule and implemented accordingly by September 23, 2013.
3. Keep track of EHR and Meaningful Use requirements
As the transfer to Electronic Health Records (EHR1 continues, demonstrating Meaningful Use is becoming less of an option.
The Medicare EHR Incentive Program began in 2011, through which eligible healthcare providers are offered financial incentives for adopting, implementing, upgrading or demonstrating Meaningful Use of EHR. The incentive payments will continue through 2016, and 2014 is the last year to begin participation in the program. Beginning in 2015, penalties may be assessed to healthcare providers who fail to demonstrate Meaningful Use.
The Medicaid EHR Incentive Program’s incentive payments will continue through 2021, however the last year that an eligible healthcare professional can begin participation in the program will be 2016.
4. Tailor policies to your organization.
Any plans created in order to achieve compliance will be different depending on your organizational structure, needs and potential areas of concern. The staffing structure, method of data storage and potential transmission of information will be different for every organization, as well – tailoring policies to your organization will ensure maximum security and that your time and resources are being used effectively.
5. Ensure that your staff is in the know.
Your staff plays an important role in maintaining the security of electronic patient health information (ePHI1. Not only can information be compromised through hacking, it can also be compromised due to human error. HIPAA requires that specific policies that dictate the training of personnel handling information be established. Employees must be aware of the current password policies for information and think through the placement of monitors, printers and fax machines that store and transmit data.
Achieving and maintaining compliance is a key factor in the healthcare industry. Developing a plan to do so, as well as staying up to date with updates to current regulations is necessary for all organizations and will help set you up for success. Interested in learning more? Download our free white paper, The State of Healthcare Compliance: Keeping up with HIPAA, Advancements in EHR & Additional Regulations!
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