The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted in 1996 to protect the privacy of patient health information. The law requires healthcare providers to take specific steps to ensure the privacy and security of electronic protected health information (ePHI). There are a few key things you need to do to ensure your clinic is compliant. Keep reading to find out what they are.
Invest in a virtual private server.
When it comes to HIPAA compliance, a virtual private server (VPS) is an excellent way to help your clinic stay on track. A VPS is a type of web hosting that allows you to have your own web server and access it remotely. It’s divided into separate virtual environments, each with its own operating system (OS), central processing unit (CPU), memory, and storage. This allows you to have your own server that is completely separate from other users on the same physical server.
Not to mention, clinics don’t have to invest a ton of money for this helpful tool. The cheapest VPS provides a secure and private environment for your clinic’s data, ensuring that your patients’ information is protected at all times. In addition, a VPS can help you keep your clinic’s website up and running in the event of a server crash. By using a VPS, you can rest assured that your clinic is doing everything possible to protect your patients’ privacy.
Train all employees on compliance standards.
To ensure your clinic is HIPAA compliant, you must train all employees on HIPAA compliance standards. Employees must be aware of the types of information that must be protected, how to protect it, and what happens if it is compromised. Employees should also be trained on how to respond to a data breach. In the event that ePHI is compromised, employees must take steps to contain the breach, report it to authorities, and notify affected patients.
In addition to training existing employees, you should also ensure you’re only hiring qualified employees to work in your clinic. Medical coding specialists are responsible for assigning codes to medical procedures and diagnoses. This is a critical role in ensuring that patient data is accurately tracked and protected under HIPAA regulations. By ensuring that your clinic employs a qualified medical coding specialist, you can be confident that your clinic is HIPAA compliant.
Use encryption to protect ePHI.
Encryption is the process of transforming readable data into an unreadable format. This can be done through a variety of methods, including but not limited to, substitution ciphers, transposition ciphers, and stream ciphers. The most common type of encryption is called symmetric-key cryptography. In symmetric-key cryptography, both the sender and receiver share the same key that is used to encrypt and decrypt the data. Another type of encryption is called public-key cryptography. In public-key cryptography, each party has a unique pair of keys, consisting of a public key and a private key. The data is encrypted using the recipient’s public key, which can only be decrypted using the recipient’s private key.
Encryption is often used to protect ePHI in clinics. EPHI is any information that relates to a person’s health status or care and includes demographic information like name, address, and Social Security number. By encrypting ePHI with a strong encryption algorithm and protecting the encryption key with a password or other authentication mechanism, you can help ensure that your clinic is HIPAA compliant.
Develop an incident response plan.
An incident response plan is a documented process that your clinic can follow to minimize the impact of a data breach. The plan should include steps to take immediately following a breach, as well as long-term measures to protect your patients’ data.
Your clinic should start by creating a list of possible incidents that could occur and developing corresponding response plans. The plan should include contact information for all staff who would be responsible for responding to an incident, as well as protocols for notifying patients and the media.
The plan should also include procedures for recovering from a data breach. This may include steps such as hiring a forensic investigator to determine the cause of the breach and restoring lost data.
Your clinic’s incident response plan should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that it remains up-to-date with best practices in data security.
Keep your clinic HIPAA compliant.
The importance of ensuring that your clinic is compliant is because HIPAA protects patient privacy by regulating how healthcare providers collect, use, and disclose patient information. By ensuring your clinic is HIPAA compliant, you can protect your patients’ privacy and ensure that your clinic is in compliance with the law.