Your HIPAA compliance depends on the effectiveness of your IT services. Are you getting the support you need to stay compliant?
It can be easy to assume that the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is only really concerned with the “big fish” in HIPAA compliance – hospitals and high volume practices.
Investigations can take years, so why would they worry about dental practices like yours and your potentially minor data breach, when they can focus on major ones?
That may have been true, for a time, but in 2015, the OCR made it clear that dental practices weren’t flying under the radar. They hit Dr. Joseph Beck with a fine of $12,000 for the alleged mishandling of the protected health information of 5,600 patients.
Since then, there have been a series of fines levied against dental practices like yours — you can’t assume your noncompliance will go unnoticed.
Whether you’re managing your HIPAA compliance on your own, or you’ve invested in healthcare IT solutions for your practice, you need to have a strategy in place. Have you taken care of the following five steps?
Develop A Plan
With roughly 50 “implementation specifications” split up into administrative, physical, and technical safeguards, the HIPAA Security Rule is a lot to take in. Instead of wading right into the specifics, take the time to understand the big picture. A resource like the HHS website can help you get started.
Give The Proper Responsibilities To The Proper Individuals
You’ll need to appoint a Privacy and a Security Officer as part of your HIPAA requirements. While not specifically asked for, you’ll also need to have members of your team handling compliance documentation. Individuals with good organizational and writing skills are needed in this position, given that documenting your actions is a huge part of HIPAA compliance. A designated Security Officer and clear documentation are required to meet the Administrative Safeguards.
Make Sure Your Staff Contributes To Compliance
An effective HIPAA compliance plan has to teach your staff how to handle a range of potential situations:
Plan Ahead For Future Audits and Reviews
You are required by HIPAA to regularly revisit your HIPAA compliance policies and procedures in order to make sure they keep in line with changes to regulations, and changes within your organization. The more meticulous and systematic your documentation is, the easier it will be to go back and make periodic reviews or make adjustments down the road.
Don’t Assume You’re Invulnerable
You’ll never be so compliant and so secure that you’re risk-free. This entire process is about minimizing, not eliminating risk. That’s why you need a plan in place for when you suspect you have experienced a breach or become noncompliant. Have contingencies in place for the worst-case scenarios, so that you’re never caught off guard.
If you start with these five points, you’ll at least have a foundation in place for your HIPAA compliance. If you think it sounds complicated though, you’re right – but the good news is you don’t have to handle it alone.
You shouldn’t cut corners when it comes to your compliance, and you also shouldn’t assume you have to handle it all by yourself either.
NOVA Computer Solutions offers comprehensive compliance support for dental practices like yours – enlist our expert assistance today, so you won’t have to manage it on your own any longer.
Offloading your compliance-based stress is easy: