Maintaining HIPAA compliance can be frustrating, stressful, and confusing. That's why we want to help healthcare professionals understand the ins and outs of HIPAA to prevent healthcare practices from falling victim to any HIPAA violations. This blog will go more in-depth on who needs to be HIPAA compliant, what are the risks of not meeting HIPAA requirements, and how expert IT services can support healthcare practices with maintaining their HIPAA compliance.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, regularly known as HIPAA, is a series of regulatory standards that outline the lawful use and disclosure of protected health information (PHI). HIPAA compliance is regulated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and enforced by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
Health care organizations must implement HIPAA compliance into their business in order to protect the privacy, security, and integrity of protected health information. Straight Edge Technology has served the healthcare industry for over a decade and understands the importance of HIPAA compliance.
Who Needs To Be HIPAA Compliant?
HIPAA regulation identifies two types of organizations that must maintain HIPAA compliance - Covered Entities and Business Associates.
A covered entity is any organization that collects, creates, or transmits PHI electronically. Covered entities include most health care organizations such as health care providers, health care clearinghouses, and health insurance providers.
A business associate is any organization that encounters PHI in any way over the course of work that it has been contracted to perform on behalf of a covered entity.
Common examples of business associates affected by HIPAA rules include billing companies, third-party consultants, MSPs and IT providers, faxing companies, email hosting services, attorneys, accountants, and EHR platforms.
Straight Edge Technology Is A HIPAA Verified IT Services Provider
Listed above, MSPs and IT providers are considered business associates. We serve many medical practices, therefore we have completed a comprehensive HIPAA verification process. What exactly does that mean?
At Straight Edge Technology, we train all our staff on HIPAA Compliance. We underwent our own audit to implement HIPAA best practices and make sure we have the proper security protocols in place.
Our focus is on protecting your records properly as your practice does.
Costs of Not Maintaining HIPAA Compliance
Not only could a HIPAA violation cost your practice thousands of dollars, but it could also cause long-lasting damages to your practice's reputation. All breaches affecting 500 or more individuals are posted on the HHS Breach Notification Portal, also nicknamed the “Wall of Shame.” This "Wall of Shame" is a permanent archive of all HIPAA violations caused by data breaches that have occurred in the US since 2009.
The table below lists the 4 tiers of HIPAA violations and the costs of fines for each category.
|Tier 1: |
A violation that the covered entity was unaware of and could not have realistically avoided, had a reasonable amount of care had been taken to abide by HIPAA Rules.
|Minimum fine of $100 per violation up to $50,000 Maximum $25,000 per year|
|Tier 2: |
A violation that the covered entity should have been aware of but could not have avoided even with a reasonable amount of care. (but falling short of willful neglect of HIPAA Rules)
|Minimum fine of $1,000 per violation up to $50,000 Maximum $100,000 per year|
|Tier 3: |
A violation suffered as a direct result of "willful neglect" of HIPAA Rules, in cases where an attempt has been made to correct the violation.
|Minimum fine of $10,000 per violation up to $50,000 Maximum $250,000 per year|
|Tier 4: |
A violation of HIPAA Rules constituting willful neglect, where no attempt has been made to correct the violation.
|Minimum fine of $50,000 per violation. Maximum $1.5 million per year|
Some common causes of HIPAA violations and fines are listed here:
- Stolen laptop
- Stolen phone
- Stolen USB device
- Malware incident
- Ransomware attack
- Business associate breach
- EHR breach
- Office break-in
- Sending PHI to the wrong patient/contact
- Discussing PHI outside of the office
Stressed About Your Practice's HIPAA Compliance?
It is normal to feel overwhelmed by HIPAA regulations and protocols. But you don't have to feel that way when you partner with Straight Edge Technology for your IT!
We support healthcare practices with our expert IT and HIPAA consulting, so they can keep their PHI secure and avoid any fines or ruined reputations.
Partnering with us, you will receive a HIPAA Security Analysis and Comprehensive Report to ensure your infrastructure is properly adhering to HIPAA guidelines.
1.HIPAA Security Analysis
The first step to protecting your data and ensuring your practice is HIPAA compliant is to examine your current infrastructure for any risks. Our trained IT professionals will guide your practice through a comprehensive risk analysis to help you discover any potential security threats.
2. Comprehensive Report
You will receive both physical and digital copies of your HIPAA assessment and any recommendations our team has for your practice. Our team will help with the implementation of any required security standards, procedures, and protocols.