The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was signed into law in 1996 by President Clinton. Another name for HIPAA is the Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information. This act—no matter what you call it—is the first nationally recognizable act that involves the standards and regulations set about for the use or disclosure of a person’s health information.
The act covers entities such as a health plan, health-care clearing house, or health-care provider.
The privacy rules associated with HIPAA include the following:
- Patients have control over how their health information is used.
- There are defined boundaries for covered entities in this disclosure or use of a patient’s health records.
- The personal health information or PHI of an individual has limited use and a smaller chance of inappropriate disclosure.
- There is an established national privacy standard and rules of compliance for all health-care providers to follow.
- A set of compliance standards must be developed for all healthcare providers with resulting investigations and possible civil or criminal penalties for violating the HIPAA privacy rules.
- Supports the cause of PHI disclosure without individual patient consent for cases such as public benefit, national interests, and personal health-care needs. The privacy rules associated with HIPAA strive to balance individual privacy with the proper delivery of health care.
One of the biggest challenges associated with HIPAA is the electronic storage and sharing of healthcare records in a secure manner. In order to guarantee compliance with confidentiality and privacy standards, there are health IT privacy and electronic health information guidelines and rules set that all healthcare entities must be in compliance with.
HIPAA Title II
HIPAA has 5 titles or sections and the title associated with electronic health information is Title II. This title directs the US Department of Health and Human Services to establish and outline standards in regards to electronic health-care transactions. Additionally, this title requires health-care organizations to have secure electronic access to health data and to remain compliant with all privacy regulations.
When HIPAA compliance is talked about in the IT world, it is Title II, also known as the Administrative Simplifications, provisions that are being referenced.
The HIPAA compliance requirements include the following:
- National provider identifier standard: Each health-care provider or entity must have a unique 10-digit NPI or national provider identifier number.
- Code sets and transactions standards: There is a standardized mode for electronic data interchange or EDI for all health-care organizations to follow in order to submit and process insurance claims.
- HIPAA privacy rule: This is the privacy rule discussed in great detail in the first portion of this article.
- HIPAA security rule: These security standards are set about for the protection of electronically protected health information to ensure patient data security.
- HIPAA enforcement rule: This rule guides investigations into HIPAA compliance violations.
For non-IT companies, such as healthcare entities, the electronic health information security compliance guidelines can be difficult to implement. Additionally, without clear and well-defined IT governance, healthcare entities can quickly fall out of compliance.
The key to meeting all HIPAA requirements is a clearly defined organizational responsibility for all health records. HIPAA requirements state that there must be an individual assigned the express responsibility for records compliance. Once this responsibility is assigned, all associated groups responsible for and with access to healthcare records—from legal departments and human resources to healthcare providers and IT managers—must be informed and in compliance.
Transparency is paramount within HIPAA, and all healthcare entities and the regulated data and delivery systems are open to audit by compliance specialists. If an entity is audited and found to be out of compliance, strict monetary fines can be assessed. In order to ensure complete compliance, it is best for a healthcare provider to set up the electronic records storage, retrieval, and secure transmission by establishing a solid organizational structure and accompanying policies.
The goal of all healthcare entities is to ensure that electronically protected health information, or EPHI, is regulated in the following ways:
- Is accessible only to the people or entities who have a business need and who are within the guidelines of sharing
- Processed on electronic systems that are strictly controlled and properly backed up
- Monitored during all access
- Only moved to authorized locations
- Encrypted in storage and during transmission on unprotected networks
HIPAA-Compliant Document Management Software
The very best way to ensure strict compliance with all HIPAA electronically protected health information is to ensure that the policies and document management is governed by a clearly set standard and with top-notch security software. If this sounds like an insurmountable task to you, realize you are not alone. For this reason, eFileCabinet has answered the clarion call for HIPAA-compliant document management software (DMS) programs.
With the ability to automatically send and receive patient information on a secure server, have a clear audit trail, and specify who can see what information, you can rest assured that you will meet and exceed all HIPAA standards for EPHI.
Take a minute and fill out the form to see how our DMS programs can increase your production and profits and decrease the time spent on compliance regulation and training.