While most businesses that are concerned about HIPAA compliance are medical facilities and similar establishments, there are other types of businesses that also have access to health information and would need to maintain compliance with HIPAA laws. If your business has access to health information of any kind, it’s crucial that you comply with all HIPAA regulations. Here’s what you need to know.
What is HIPAA?
HIPAA is the acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and is legislation that was passed in the United States in 1996. The purpose of the legislation is to provide data privacy as well as security provisions for the safeguarding of medical information. There are five different sections, or titles, in the legislation. HIPAA is regulated and enforced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The titles and what they entail are as follows:
- Title I protects health insurance coverage for individuals who have either lost their jobs or are changing jobs. Additionally, this title prevents group health plans from denying coverage to individuals based on specific diseases or pre-existing health conditions. It also prohibits these groups from setting lifetime limits.
- Title II establishes HHS as the regulators and enforcers of this legislation. It allows the federal agency to set the national standard for the processing of electronic healthcare transactions. Additionally, it requires all organizations with access to health data to implement a secure electronic access method for data.
- Title III details the guidelines for medical care as well as tax-related provisions.
- Title IVdetails health insurance reform. This includes the provisions for individuals who are looking for continued coverage as well as those with pre-existing conditions.
- Title V discusses provisions on company-owned life insurance and treatment of individuals who have lost their U.S. Citizenship.
What Protected Health Information (PHI) is Included in HIPAA?
It is important to understand what types of information are considered “protected health information.” According to HHS, any individually identifiable health information falls within this category. This includes information about a patient from the past, present, and even future regarding physical health, mental health, or various other types of conditions. Some other types of PHI include health care provided to a patient and payment for health care in the past, present, and future, as well as any type of demographic information or personal details that can be used to identify an individual.
There is a wide range of information that is protected by HIPAA and this information is required to be carefully protected for patient security. According to HHS, only information that is required for patient care and safety should be released to any other party and there should be a secure process for requesting and providing this information, including a disclosure and verification from the patient that the information may be shared and who it may be shared with.
How to Remain Compliant with HIPAA
Although your company is required to remain compliant with HIPAA if you have access to sensitive medical and health information, doing so is something for your company to take pride in as well. When you are compliant with HIPAA, you can ensure that your employees highly sensitive information is secured.
Your company is trusted by its employees to ensure that their information is safe. However, beyond that, you must also be able to share the information with these employees and any other authorized parties. At the very basic level, to remain compliant with HIPAA in these circumstances, you need to create a solid workflow. HIPAA laws outline systems of checks and balances that you can use to ensure that patient information is kept secure, which allows patients to have the control over who should have access to their information and when it should be shared. A good workflow lessens the likelihood of a security breach and the leak of sensitive information.
When your company has access to sensitive medical information as part of doing business, it’s crucial that you maintain compliance with all HIPAA regulations. For more information on how you can become HIPAA compliant and what you can do to protect sensitive patient information, contact Insight Performance today.