Healthcare providers are legally obligated to store patients’ data securely. But as more practices adopt the EHR (Electronic Health Record) system, the risk and ease of having their data breached and used for malicious purposes have increased. That’s why it’s crucial for healthcare organizations like yours to constantly maintain and update its technology and compliance program to ensure HIPAA compliance. Not only will you be better protected from breaches, but you’ll also avoid paying hefty fines of up to $50,000 per record or staying in prison for up to 10 years.
Focus on five areas to secure compliance: organizational alignment, training programs, communication, research and review, and GRC (Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance).
#1. Organizational Alignment
A well-written compliance program is imperative, which is why we highly recommend that your compliance officer involve high-ranking employees like your board of directors and senior management officers when they’re designing one. Although your compliance officer is responsible for drafting compliance policies and procedures, your board of directors and senior management officers can review the drafted plan and provide suggestions. This ensures the plan covers all data security and privacy aspects required by HIPAA.
You should also form a compliance committee consisting of representatives from various areas that are affected by compliance regulations to ensure a successful implementation of your compliance program.
#2. Training Programs
Involving everyone in your company ensures they understand what’s happening and are implementing the same policies and procedures needed to stay compliant. One way to do this is by having your compliance officer hold regular training programs. These training programs will educate employees about compliance regulations, what kind of work conduct employees are expected to observe, and the consequences for the user and the company when failing to comply with regulations.
A compliance officer should be able to easily communicate with employees from all levels to quickly discover and solve any compliance problems, and make sure that the company’s current compliance program meets regulation standards. As such, we suggest that you invite your compliance officer during your regular department meetings to provide a forum where your officer and employees can discuss any issue.
#4. Research and Review
Regularly reviewing and updating your compliance program according to new HIPAA regulations minimizes chances of non-compliance and data breaches. One thing your compliance officer can do is to conduct ongoing compliance reviews of your organization and its compliance practices. He or she should also continually research regulation-related matters, and promptly revise its current compliance program with any necessary changes based on the latest standard requirements. This guarantees that all areas in your organization is up to date with the latest HIPAA regulation standards.
#5. GRC (Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance)
GRC is a set of policies that combine three elements in a business structure:
- Governance - makes sure that every organizational action and decision aligns with its goals
- Risk Management - identifies and manages any risk in a way that supports the organization’s goals
- Compliance - ensures that every action meets industry regulations
Having a GRC framework allows your compliance officer to create one clear set of policies that deal with business practices, technology, and more for your employees, auditors, and regulatory agencies. This not only keeps you compliant with HIPAA at all fronts, but also enables your practice to bolster work effectiveness, as your employees need to refer to only one set of policies.
What should I do now?
If you have yet to maintain these five aspects, there’s a high chance that your organization is not fully HIPAA-compliant. We understand you may not have the time, money, or manpower to thoroughly review your practice’s current compliance policies or conduct research on new HIPAA regulations 24/7.
That’s why it’s best to enlist a reputable managed IT services provider like Refresh Technologies as your compliance officer. We will advise you on the best practices and install advanced technologies so that your practice always stays compliant with HIPAA, and help you address these five critical areas so you can focus on providing optimal patient care. If you’re interested in strengthening your compliance program or would like to know more about our HIPAA compliance service, contact us today at 704-374-0107 or send us a message here.