How to Be HIPAA Compliant with Technology
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, is intended to go a step further than standard privacy laws in order to protect sensitive and confidential patient health information that is gathered, stored, and shared by hospitals, healthcare professionals, and health insurance providers. This act covers all manner of data and data storage and is updated to include new technologies. For example, the recent trend of upgrading to electronic medical records (EMR), or electronic health records (EHR), has not gone unnoticed or unregulated.
As a company that must comply with HIPAA regulations, it can definitely be difficult to keep up with new and changing standards for privacy protection – almost as difficult as keeping up with evolving technologies. How can you ensure the use of compliant HIPAA technology in order to protect your business and your clientele? Here are a few things you should know.
Not All Technology is Compliant HIPAA Technology
You may or may not know that certain types of technology are simply not HIPAA compliant. While you can always work with the experts at a reputable company likeCTI Technology to ensure that you’re utilizing technology in keeping with HIPAA standards, it could be that the tech you’re using is not even remotely approved by HIPAA for use in storing or sharing confidential patient data.
The biggest culprit for many health professionals is unsecured data channels, especially those used for communication and transmission of confidential data. If you want to store and share data via secure patient portals, for example, a company like CTI Technology can help you to find suitable cloud solutions and create password protections to ensure security. Messages sent via email can be protected with encryption in order to meet HIPAA standards, although it’s really not viable for most businesses because of the hassles of setting up security keys for anyone sending and/or receiving messages.
That said, certain channels of communication are considered unsecured by HIPAA, including platforms like SMS and Skype, for example. There is really no way to encrypt and secure protected health information (PHI) transmitted in this manner, which means these methods of communication do not fall under the category of compliant HIPAA technology.
You Must Keep Up with HIPAA Rules
Generally speaking, there is a basic set of rules associated with compliant HIPAA technology. First and foremost, data must be protected by encryption at all times, whether it’s simply being stored or it’s in transit.
In addition, there are security rules related to how data can be accessed (with trackable, unique user identifiers, for example), as well as the application of failsafe security like automatic log-off after a device has been inactive for a short period of time. The HIPAA Security Rule pertains to administrative, physical, and technical safeguards meant to support the HIPAA Privacy Rule and ensure that new technologies are properly implemented to stop confidential data from becoming compromised.
Of course, the technical specifications spelled out by the Security Rule are extremely detailed, which can make it hard for health professionals to remain in compliance, especially when new technologies emerge. Not only do companies have to understand their obligations regarding compliant HIPAA technology, but documentation of processes is also required, which means businesses need to know what they’re doing and provide proof of compliance.
Having the expertise of a company like CTI Technology can help. With the right IT support, cloud services, and monitoring in place, health professionals can create the secure platforms for storage and suitable channels of communication needed to ensure compliance with applicable HIPAA regulations. Any business that takes patient privacy seriously and wants to utilize technology responsibly can benefit from professional help in maintaining HIPAA compliance where technology is concerned.