Are you wondering who is required to be HIPAA compliant? If yes, you should check out our explanative guide by clicking here.
There’s a lot that’s been said about the Healthcare Information Portability and Accountability Act. It’s a law that was written in 1996 and designed to protect the personal information given to healthcare professionals.
Since 2003, there have been more than 200,000 complaints. The Department of Health and Human Services found that 75 companies willfully violated the law and assessed more than $116 million in fines and penalties.
You can’t afford to be among the businesses that are fined. Your first question may be, “Who is required to be HIPAA compliant?” It can be a confusing maze to know which healthcare professionals need to be HIPAA compliant.
Read on to learn who needs to be compliant and how to become compliant in your organization.
What Exactly Is HIPAA?
Are you still confused by HIPAA and why it’s so important? HIPAA actually has several major components. Most of the concerns fall around information privacy.
One of the parts of the bill allows people to transfer their healthcare plans when they change or lose their jobs. It made several changes to the existing COBRA coverage that allowed many more people to keep their insurance during a job change or loss. That’s the portability part of the bill.
Privacy regulations are the biggest concern for most healthcare providers. As you can tell, the penalties for non-compliance can be severe. It dictates how your personal information is stored and shared by healthcare providers. All communications, such as convertible notes, billing information, and electronic forms cannot be tied to your identifiable information.
Who Is Required to Be HIPAA Compliant?
There’s a lengthy list of companies that need to be compliant with HIPAA rules. These typically fall under three entities: The first is healthcare clearinghouses. The second is health care plans. The third entity consists of healthcare providers.
Healthcare providers include therapists, chiropractors, general practitioners, and specialists. Basically, if they’re covered by your insurance company, it’s safe to assume that they have to comply with HIPAA.
The law says that if an entity is paid to provide health care services as part of its business activities, they have to comply with HIPAA.
Who Isn’t Required to Comply with HIPAA?
Who’s not required to be HIPAA compliant? There are other entities that may handle your private health information that isn’t covered by HIPAA’s privacy rule. These can include your employer, their worker’s compensation insurance company, life insurance companies, and the majority of school districts.
You can assume that government agencies such as the department of child services and municipal agencies and law enforcement agencies aren’t obligated to comply with HIPAA rules.
Alternative health providers like naturopaths, massage therapists, and acupuncturists usually haven’t been investigated for HIPAA violations. Since they do bill for health care services, they should comply with HIPAA laws.
Personal trainers and gyms have access to your health information, too. Technically, they’re not one of the covered entities. However, they may have to share information or communicate with another healthcare professional, such as a physician or a physical therapist.
If you’re one of these providers and it’s not clear if you need to comply or not, it’s best practice to put HIPAA compliance in place. That will limit your business liability and protect your clients. That will only increase the level of trust in the long run.
How to Be HIPAA Compliant
Now that you know who needs to be HIPAA compliant, the next question is how to be compliant with privacy laws. Here are a few tips that you can follow to become HIPAA compliant.
Understand the Full Scope of the Law
This article only covered the basic information about HIPAA. If you want to take responsibility for your healthcare practice, you need to understand the full scope of HIPAA. It will serve you, in the long run, to avoid fines and losing the trust of your patients.
Knowing the law will make it easier to understand changes and adjustments to the law. That’s certain to happen as technology changes.
How Do You Communicate with Patients and Clients?
Your first step is to take stock of how you communicate with your clients and the forms that they fill out. This will help you determine your coverage needs.
For example, if you communicate with your clients via text message, you’ll need a HIPAA compliant phone number for phone calls and text messages. You can then find out how to get a HIPAA compliant phone number.
On the other hand, if you use email to communicate with your patients, it is essential that your email provider is HIPAA-compliant as well.
Here’s a guide on how to make Gmail HIPAA-compliant.
If you have patients fill out forms, you need to have a filing system for these forms and store them.
Finding Service Providers
You’re likely to use technology software solutions to run your practice. You have to make sure that you use HIPAA compliant solutions. Some of these vendors will be certified and they will have a staff that’s trained in HIPAA compliance.
HIPAA compliance isn’t a one-off thing. It’s an ongoing process to ensure that your practice is compliant. You should run quarterly audits of your systems and your practice to make sure all of your information and security practices are in compliance.
HIPAA Compliance Is Good Practice
When HIPAA became law in 1996, no one really imagined how technology would evolve and change the healthcare industry. It’s your responsibility as a healthcare practitioner to be compliant with the law.
Who is required to be HIPAA compliant? If you provide healthcare services and bill for those services in your business, then you need to comply with HIPAA. Even if you don’t need to comply or you’re in a gray area, it’s best for your business and your clients to comply.
The law is always changing, and you want to make sure that you’re on top of things. You want to make sure that you understand the law by reading it carefully. You also want to make sure that you evaluate your needs and get the technology solutions that will make your business compliant.
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