Small and medium-sized medical practices offer a level of personalized care that patients appreciate. Of course, this “old-fashioned” approach to provider-patient relationships can make it easier to forget the intense scrutiny that all medical practices are under. Everyone who deals with patients or patient data in any capacity needs HIPAA training. This can place a smaller doctor’s office at a disadvantage because staff may not have the training or technical skills to develop and operate a fully compliant environment. Outside HIPAA coaching can often take care of this problem. However, it’s important to understand the complexities of obtaining and keeping HIPAA compliance in a data-driven medical landscape before implementing a plan.
A HIPAA complaint can be damaging and costly for a medical practice. Unfortunately, doctors and practices face some steep fines when HIPAA violations are uncovered. Violations are grouped into four separate tiers:
Fine caps range from $25,000 to $1.5 million per year. Few medical practices could sustain a hit of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines in a single year. Receiving a letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding a HIPAA violation is a very serious matter. HHS is collecting HIPAA fines at record numbers. In fact, the agency collected $28.7 million from HIPAA-covered entities and associates in 2018 alone. That figure follows several years of record-breaking fine collections.
Each patient creates a complicated data trail that has to be stored and handled in very specific ways to avoid HIPAA violations. What’s more, medical practices of all sizes are required to follow specific administrative processes to prove that HIPAA compliance is being followed. Here’s a glance at the requirements that need to be in place:
It’s important to remember that a person’s intentions don’t need to be nefarious in order to qualify as a HIPAA violation. Accidentally losing a non-encrypted laptop containing patient records or emailing an unsecured document to a third-party can qualify. That’s why HIPAA-compliant systems and protocols must be in place for every transaction. What’s more, the protocols required to protect data from both internal and external threats.
There are really countless ways to violate HIPAA requirements. Many don’t seem obvious. The majority of violations made every year are due to negligence or partial compliance. Yes, theft or data hacks are sometimes responsible for violations. However, most violations happen because of innocent mistakes resulting from procedures that don’t follow compliance requirements. Here’s a look at common causes of HIPAA violations:
Unfortunately, many violations are simply caused by poor judgment on the part of office staff. This is why training is important for protecting the reputation and integrity of a medical office. Effective HIPPA coaching requires a mix of technology coaching and reinforcement regarding “best practices” for privacy.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is very specific when it comes to the elements that need to be included in a HIPAA training program. The agency highlights seven core principles that should guide any training initiative. Here’s a look:
The HHS also stresses the importance of making compliance a priority now. A big part of coming into full compliance is knowing your office’s fraud and abuse risks. This is where a full audit comes into the picture.
It often takes an outside eye to achieve HIPAA compliance and HIPAA coaching. When you bring in a compliance coach, you’ll be empowered to conduct a self-audit, identify deficiencies and correct deficiencies. Correction can come in the form of a comprehensive plan for gap remediation, training and policy templates that’s supported by cloud-based, automated reporting, tracking, and attestation tools. Your office will be left in a position of being equipped to detail compliance for auditors, associates, and covered entities. Contact us for more details and HIPAA coaching.