Healthcare information contains sensitive and personal health information (PHI) about an individual’s health history, diagnoses, treatments, and other personal information. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of healthcare information security, as the volume of sensitive health information being collected, stored, and shared has increased dramatically.
With the widespread adoption of telemedicine and remote patient monitoring, there are new risks to the security of health information, such as the potential for unauthorized access to PHI through remote devices or unsecured networks. Additionally, the increased demand for information and resources related to COVID-19 has made healthcare organizations and their systems a target for cyberattacks.
To mitigate these risks, healthcare entities need to be HIPAA-Compliant for robust and effective healthcare information security measures to protect the privacy and security of individuals’ health information.
This blog post is for you if you are a developer, a healthcare provider, or a business entity related to healthcare. We will guide you through some important information you need to know about HIPAA compliance and why it is mandatory for the development of a healthcare application.
Table of Contents
- What is HIPAA?
Why is HIPAA-Compliance Mandatory?
HIPAA Rules and Regulations
Breach Notification Rule
HIPAA Compliance Tools
HIPAA Violations & Penalties
Without further ado, let’s get started with the blog post and the topics covered in it.
What is HIPAA?
HIPAA is an acronym used for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It was passed by the US government in 1996. By providing health insurance coverage to health workers or professionals, this regulatory statute protects them and keeps an eye on many areas of the healthcare industry. This law established the legal guidelines for business dealings involving health care in online and offline media.
Any business dealing with Protected Health Information (PHI) must make sure that the necessary physical, network, and process security measures are in place.
Hence, in order to make sure that security is not compromised, the healthcare industry is putting emphasis on the protection of data with great care. How? Through compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Why Is HIPAA-Compliance Mendatory?
HIPAA compliance was needed because it enables healthcare providers to guarantee that electronic records are protected and that only vetted employees have access to them in order to ensure that information is kept secure. It sets standards for how organizations can share healthcare information, carry out electronic billing, and carry out other operations in order to eliminate healthcare abuse and fraud. The development of security and privacy for all types of healthcare data is a goal of HIPAA. To summarize, it was needed because
Without the patient’s approval, protected information cannot be disclosed. However, consent is not required to share information for billing purposes, care coordination, public health protection, or when providers are legally compelled to report injuries like gunshot wounds.
Patients have the right under HIPAA to obtain copies of their medical records and ask for changes if any information is incorrect.
The ability to choose who can speak on behalf of the patient is one of the most significant provisions of the HIPAA regulation. A form must be completed in order for anyone to speak on their behalf. This applies even if someone is assisting them with their insurance or financial obligations.
HIPAA makes sure privacy, security, mobility, critical care, and timeliness of solutions. HIPAA provides the following benefits:
Creates fundamental safeguards for the security and privacy of health information.
Ensures that people have access to and knowledge of how their health information is used and shared.
Demands the confidentiality and protection of protected health information.
Imposes rules on the whole industry for healthcare data used in computerized billing and other procedures.
Lessens medical fraud and abuse.
Transmits Risk-free data between healthcare providers, and other stakeholders.
Notifies for breaches of healthcare records.
HIPAA Rules and Regulations
The following are the main rules and regulations of HIPAA:
Breach Notification Rule
The Privacy Rule of HIPAA establishes standards for safeguarding patient medical records and health information of the people. This rule establishes restrictions and requirements on the use and disclosure of personal health information without the consent of the patient, as well as necessary protections to ensure the privacy of all these types of information. The Rule also grants people access rights to their health-related information, such as the right to request corrections and the ability to inspect and receive a duplicate copy of the medical data.
In accordance with the Privacy Rule, covered entities must reply to requests for patient access within 30 days. Additionally, Notices of Privacy Practices (NPPs) must be distributed to inform patients and plan participants of how their data will be handled and shared.
Additionally, covered entities are urged to:
Ensure that staff members are aware of which information can and cannot be disclosed outside of an organization’s security measures and provide training to them.
Make sure that the proper measures are taken to preserve the confidentiality of patient information and electronically protected health information (ePHI). Before using patients’ health information for activities like marketing, fundraising, or research, make sure to get their written consent.
In addition to including the option to restrict disclosure of PHI to the health plan (where they have asked for a private procedure and paid for it), covered entities need to ensure that the authorization forms of their patient have been amended to add the sharing of information to entities.
Any system or anyone with access to private patient data is subject to this rule. The security rule of HIPAA has requirements that must be followed to safeguard and protect PHI. It is about access to the data. “Access,” here, means possessing the tools required to write, read, change, or communicate PHI or any personal identifiers that reveal a person’s identity.
Breach Notification Rule
Most healthcare providers are required by the Breach Notification Rule to inform patients of unsecured PHI breaches. The Breach Notification Rule also compels institutions to alert the public and media if a breach of unsecured PHI results in the exposure of more than 500 patients.
IIn addition to extending the scope of the HIPAA compliance checklist to include Business Associates and their subcontractors, the HIPAA omnibus regulation defines processes and rules for the said entities.
This rule is for any person or organization that produces, receives, maintains, or transmits Protected Health Information while serving as a business associate for a covered entity. Contractors, consultants, data storage firms, health information organizations, and any other subcontractors utilized by business associates are included under the phrase “business associate”.
HIPAA Enforcement Rule is for the measurements of compliance and inquiries. It is the imposition of civil monetary fines for infringements of the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Rules, and hearing processes.
There are various tools available to help healthcare organizations comply with HIPAA regulations. These tools assist healthcare entities to access an editable and printed collection of Policies, Procedures, and Forms.
These tools enable healthcare organizations to add staff, assign tasks, monitor audits, reduce breaches, and obtain support through a secure, mobile-friendly management system. Some of the tools offer cloud-based security just as “Dropbox, and” “Google Drive,” which are maintained by categorizing the files based on risk analysis and then encrypting them to prevent security breaches. Some of the tools are SIMBUS, QLIQSOFT, SAKOOSA, Office Safe etc.
These tools implement the HIPAA security regulation utilizing the elements listed below:
Archiving the Messages: This comprises copies of messages and timestamps for auditing.
Public and Private Key Encryption: The user is given unique key encryption to access the data, and only certain users can decode it. Additionally, a public key is given to access the data on the servers before re-encryption.
Cloud Pass-Thru: Data is transported directly from one Qliq user to another via the cloud-pass-through feature, thereby lowering the risk of a data breach.
Authenticating Users: Passwords and identification for login and data monitoring are used to protect the data.
Remote Lock and Data Wipe: All linked devices may be readily monitored, and if a device is lost, an “Easy Wipe” option is provided to prevent security breaches.
Business Associate Agreement: In order to preserve HIPAA compliance, QLIQSOFT offers a Business Associate Agreement to customers upon request.
By using HIPAA compliance tools, healthcare organizations can ensure that they are in compliance with HIPAA regulations and that they are taking appropriate measures to protect the privacy and security of individuals’ PHI.
HIPAA Violations and Penalties
According to the standards in the HIPAA Privacy Rule, the simplest definition of a HIPAA violation is when a covered business fails to keep adequate protections to prevent the purposeful or unintentional use or disclosure of PHI.
HIPAA Violations and Penalties
Based on the degree of negligence, the fines can range from 100 to 100,000 USD per infraction (or each record) for noncompliance. Criminal charges for violations may also lead to jail time. The number of patients and degree of carelessness will affect how much the fines rise.
HIPAA is very useful for ensuring the security and privacy of patient records. It is crucial to create HIPAA-compliant software since it ensures that the data is protected and that PHI is communicated safely.
The fundamental tenet of HIPAA-compliant app development is that users’ data must be given the highest level of security. In particular, when using a software platform, the HIPAA Act makes sure there are no irregularities in the treatment and storage of patient data.
You may always get in touch with Bitsol Technologies if you need help deciding to create a HIPAA Compliant app. From development through launch, our team at Bitsol Technologies is ready to assist you at every stage of the procedure.
If you need help starting your healthcare business, get in touch with us right away! With strategic thinking and planning, you just need to put together all the learnings and build a secure healthcare application that can give you huge success.
This blog post covered why HIPAA compliance is necessary for healthcare applications. In the next blog, we will discuss how to create HIPAA-compliant applications.
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