HIPAA is a Federal law that is aimed at improving the health insurance systems, while at the same time protecting the critical health records of citizens from reaching the wrong hands.
Basically it has 2 key components:
- Rules related to privacy
- Rules related to security
Medical practitioners, doctors and medical organizations will have to make sure that they comply with the HIPAA rules to protect the medical records of their patients. Patient Data Privacy would include ensuring the safety of medical records, be it in hard copies, or when digitally saved as Electronic Health Records. The organization should ensure that they do not reach the wrong hands, or the unauthorized parties.
Under these privacy rules, health organizations will have to make sure that they take care of the personal health information or the PHI of their patients under different circumstances:
- PHI disclosures should not be provided to any unauthorized parties
- If there has been any breach, then the organisation should notify the covered entity.
- There also are exceptions, where you can disclose the PHI to certain regulatory bodies. You can learn more about it by reading the policies regarding different types of disclosures according to the HIPAA rules.
- You will need to maintain proper records of all the disclosures of PHI made by you or your organization
Under the security rules of HIPAA, you will need to take care of a few things in particular:
The Electronic Health Records or the EHR must be protected while being stored in the digital databases, and also while they are transmitted on the networks.
Data Collection security
These days, most of the medical organisations and doctors collect their customer information from their websites, where the patients will enter their private information, and also upload medical files.
It is very important for the medical organisations and private practitioners to ensure that the healthcare forms on their website are fully secured to meet all the HIPAA regulations and compliance laws.
When the customer enters the information or uploads the documents, the records should be transmitted through highly secured channels. There are also encryption laws regulated by HIPAA, which the organisations and doctors should abide with, when the information is being transmitted on the internet. Also, make sure that the contact form on your website is highly secure.
Transmission security of Electronic Health Records can be tightened with various components like access control, centralized system integration, authentication check points, SSL encryption, etc.
In addition to the above compliance rules, organizations will also have to provide Administrative Safeguards and Physical Safeguards to ensure total protection of PHI. This includes framing the company policy accordingly and also getting the signatures on non-disclosure agreements from your employees.
Protect the credibility of your medical profession or organization!
Although HIPAA does not have direct prosecuting power, there are a few pending cases, where the medical practitioners or organizations have been dragged to the federal courts.
More than the punishment and the penalties itself, it is the credibility of your profession or organization that is at the stake here, if you are charged with non-compliance. Such news travels fast and will create serious doubts in the minds of your existing and potential patients.
You might want to check with the right developer companies to see if your web pages meet the rules of HIPAA privacy and security.
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