Prior to the introduction of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in 1996, there were no protections in place for individually identifiable health data. While professional organizations like the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association set ethical requirements for their fields, there were no federal laws regarding the confidentiality, integrity, and privacy of individuals’ PHI. Amendments to HIPAA, like the HITECH Act, have ushered HIPAA into the 21st century. In 2021, the potential for data breaches makes HIPAA compliance increasingly important when it comes to protecting your clients’ privacy and your company from liability and penalty. HIPAA regulations are there to provide a balance between accessibility and privacy; protecting individuals’ PHI while making sure it is readily accessible to those providing health care, coordinating payment for services, and maintaining records.
HIPAA compliance is crucial to retaining client trust, and the consequences of noncompliance can be severe. Ignorance of the rules does not protect an organization from facing fines or even criminal charges for HIPAA noncompliance — make sure you are not caught unaware or uninformed. Covered entities and business associates must notify HHS of any HIPAA violations or data breaches, no matter how small, as soon as they happen. Even a minor unreported violation could trigger a fine and larger audit. An unreported data breach, however, could incite criminal charges. Again, this is where conducting regular self-audits, maintaining organized (and copious) records, and keeping HHS’ contact info handy, is in your organization’s best interest.
This checklist should help you better understand how to be HIPAA compliant, but HIPAA is complicated and the OCR regularly updates procedures and policies.. The right compliance software can streamline HIPAA compliance strategies, saving you time and reducing your risk for costly fines and noncompliance charges. Learn how AuditBoard’s integrated compliance management software can help you achieve compliance and scale your compliance program as federal requirements are updated and as your organization grows.