Your patients’ data is some of the most precious information you will handle, so you need to have a plan in place to protect and recover that data.
If you don’t consider the various risks, your hospital may join the growing list of healthcare data breaches. Before you become the next victim of a cyberattack, you need to ensure your hospital meets HIPAA compliance.
If you’re unfamiliar with this act and its requirements, it’s time for you to take a more serious approach to data security.
Are you ready to revamp your security systems and strengthen the trust of your patients? Read on to learn how HIPAA compliance can bring your hospital up to speed with a more interconnected world.
What Is HIPAA?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) establishes patient health information practices.
According to the law, doctors and hospitals are allowed to update their technology to best protect patients’ data. But these healthcare entities cannot release patient information without the patient’s consent.
This is why data breaches are a major concern for HIPAA compliance.
But what is HIPAA compliance? Feel free to look into a HIPPA phone number or read up on compliance rules to keep your healthcare practice in the know.
How to Meet HIPAA Compliance
Now that you’ve learned a little bit more about HIPAA, you’ll want to avoid the consequences of leaving your patients’ data unprotected. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure you meet HIPAA standards.
Look for Loopholes
If you want to understand how to be compliant with HIPAA laws, you need to first find out how you’re falling short. Admitting weak spots may be the last thing you want to do, but you have to identify a problem before you can fix it.
Information is most vulnerable when it’s moving, so consider all the forms of communication you use to transport patient data.
Emails, text messages, and other digital methods can serve as opportunities for hackers to get a hold of digital information.
And don’t forget about physical copies of information your practice deals with. Any printed forms serve as more ways for people to obtain information. If patients bring in physical information or fax papers to you, how do you handle these copies?
Once you pinpoint possible loopholes in the system, you can develop solutions to provide your data with more protection.
Set Policies in Place
To reach HIPAA law compliance, you should create a plan that addresses both digital and physical information. Your plan should include best practices for storing and transferring patient data.
For digital information, consider ways to encrypt your data. You can do this by implementing algorithms and software. Now, you might hesitate at spending money on technology, but there are various options for you to choose from.
As for physical information, set up policies for how to handle paper copies appropriately. Don’t leave documents lying around, and make sure you shred documents when disposing of them.
Digital information can also benefit from healthy practices, such as logging off computers that are not in use.
Consider all the ways in which you move and store information, so you can cover all your bases and better secure patient data.
Train Your Staff
Introducing new software and technology can be a pain, and your staff will need time to pick things up. However, the last thing you want is for slip-ups to occur because your staff didn’t know how to use the software.
Training your staff will cost you some workdays, but it will cost you far more if a data breach happens due to silly mistakes. One of the best defenses against cyberattacks is an informed healthcare staff who knows how to operate your software.
So if you haven’t already, set up fresh training procedures for your staff to follow. New technology won’t do much if your staff doesn’t know how to execute basic tasks.
Have a Back-up Plan
No matter how many safety precautions you take, there is no such thing as a full-proof plan. Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best, you need to prepare for the worst possible scenario.
While cyberattacks should be on your radar, you should also consider your surroundings. You never know when a freak accident will happen.
Is your location susceptible to earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters? What will you do if the power goes out? And if someone does hack your data, will you have another copy to avoid permanent loss?
Backing up your data is a crucial precaution that allows room for error and enables flexibility. When a data breach happens, you need to have a plan in place.
Remember, planning for the worst will not weaken patient confidence. In fact, people can rest a little easier knowing you have a strategy for enduring times of crisis.
As you transition to new technology and update your procedures, you need to keep your patients informed every step of the way. This is their information you’re handling, so patients have a right to know what you’re doing to protect it.
After all, what is HIPAA without transparency?
Again, letting patients know you need to make changes isn’t a sign of weakness. Implementing improvements means you care, and patients will trust you more for keeping them in the loop.
Make Security a Core Value
Patients rely on you to keep some of their most valuable information secure, so you need to own up to that promise and reward their faith in you. HIPAA compliance demands healthcare practices make this promise a part of everything they do.
Don’t view HIPAA as just another government law. View it as an attitude that supports your mission to give patients the best care possible.
To continue this mission, you can learn more about the ways technology can help your practice remain secure in the digital age. And be sure to check out our technology section for more tips to keep you informed of the latest digital developments.