According to IT support experts in Orange County, the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, more popularly known as HIPAA, transformed the way the healthcare industry handled patient information. If someone mishandles a patient health record today, they could face fines of up to $1.5 million per incident and potential criminal charges.
When a HIPAA violation occurs, the investigation and consequences come from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). One thing they look at is what preventative steps were taken prior to the incident. Those steps can mean the difference between a minor offense and a major penalty.
Here are five ways recommended by IT support experts in Orange County you can prevent HIPAA violations within your company or practice:
Secure Every Device Where Patient Records Already Exist or Can Exist
Patient records can exist on any number of devices, including computer hard drives, mobile devices, network appliances, thumb drives, and digital memory. No matter where the data exists, you need to encrypt the patient records and install anti-virus software.
Train All Employees on HIPAA Requirements for Handling Patient Records
Every employee should know the requirements for handling patient records, even if they don’t come into regular contact with that information. If your company practices HIPAA security protocols, everyone needs to know how it works.
Require Strict HIPAA Compliance with All Contractors and Outside Vendors
In the course of doing business, third-party contractors and vendors may have access to the patient records entrusted to your company or practice. Those records are your company’s responsibility and you must protect the data from improper disclosure. Every person or entity that might have access needs to follow strict HIPAA protocols.
Implement Proper Disposal Methods for Patient Health Records
All patient records must be disposed of properly to avoid potential breaches. Paper records should go through a cross-cut shredder. Physical hard drives should be crushed. Digital records should be wiped.
Secure and Encrypt Mobile Devices with Access to Patient Records
Every mobile device must have strict security protection and encryption in place. If a mobile device goes missing due to loss or theft, the issuing entity is still responsible for any breach that happens. You should use proper password protection and encryption for your mobile devices.
If you need assistance with bringing your IT environment into HIPAA compliance, contact us at Technijian Corporation. We have extensive experience with helping our clients reach HIPAA compliance and staying there. We are the IT support experts in Orange County medical professionals trust for HIPAA compliance.