The passage of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in 1996 stood as a great victory for patient civil rights and confidentiality. The law required the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop regulations protecting the privacy and security of patients’ sensitive health information, while also mandating notification to appropriate government authorities when a breach of that information has occurred. As anyone familiar with HIPAA IT compliance will tell you, this is a very tall order.
Why Is HIPAA Needed?
At the end of the last century, as doctors, dentists, pharmacies, radiologists, medical laboratories, and other health care providers involved with protected health information (PHI) increasingly began to move away from paper records to computerized operations, it quickly became obvious that those records were just as vulnerable to unauthorized breaches as business and government operations were. If stolen, the release of those records into the public sphere could easily cause both monetary and reputational injury to patients. HIPAA was devised to encourage and incentivize health care providers to take a proactive stance in protecting this private patient data.
Before HIPAA was passed, there was no generally accepted standard of security requirements in place for protecting personal information in the health care industry. As new technologies evolved to allow the use of electronic information systems to pay claims, determine coverage eligibility, provide health information, and conduct a host of other administrative and clinically based functions, it became vital for IT professionals to step into the fray and help develop technology-based solutions to protecting this patient data.
Every Technical Advancement Comes with a Cost
Today, health care providers use a host of clinical applications such as computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems, electronic health records (EHR), and radiology, pharmacy, and laboratory protocols to serve their patients. Health plans provide access to claims and care management, as well as member self-service applications. While the wide adoption of all this technology improves the effectiveness and efficiency of the medical workforce, it also increases the potential security risks.
That is why mastering the statutory and regulatory details of HIPAA are so important. One of the primary purposes of the HIPAA Security Rule is to not just protect the privacy of individuals’ health information, but also to allow covered entities to adopt new technologies to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care.
The purpose of the HIPAA Security Rules can be summarized as follows:
- To ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all Electronic Protected Health Information (e-PHI);
- To identify and protect against reasonably anticipated threats to the security or integrity of the information;
- To protect against reasonably anticipated, impermissible uses or disclosures; and
- To promote compliance by their workforce.
How FullScope IT Can Help with HIPAA Compliance and Security
As with most government-mandated rules and regs, penalties for failure can be harsh, and for that reason HIPAA IT compliance is not for the faint of heart. Great expertise is required! We serve our clients in the health care industry by…
- Satisfying all aspects of HIPAA regulations;
- Conducting your Security Risk Assessment and all other required audits;
- Putting the necessary security requirements and monitoring in place;
- Putting in place all documentation, paperwork, and policies needed to protect your business; and
- Providing coaching and guidance for HIPAA privacy and security.
If you are involved in providing health care-related services and are concerned about any vulnerabilities you may be exposed to, join a free online chat now with one of our HIPAA IT compliance experts.