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What is HIPAA and How to be Compliant

A regulation was passed in 1996, called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA, that aims to restructure the health care industry by streamlining administrative procedures and increasing a patient’s privacy and security with regards to his or her information. Not only the health care professionals in hospitals, clinics and dental practices are affected by the HIPAA requirements, other providers who have access to personal health information like call center agents, medical equipment providers and insurance staff are also directed in this regulation. The enforcement of the legislation was not that strict for several years, with only a few penalties on those companies who failed to meet HIPAA privacy and security requirements for patient data handling. Changes are being done slowly and surely on the implications for those companies who fail the requirements of the HIPAA, by imposing on them tougher audits and bigger fines. Therefore, if you work in an environment that needs you to understand HIPAA guidelines and polices, you have three methods to be HIPAA compliant.

Your first move to satisfy HIPAA compliance is by assigning a HIPAA compliance officer. This officer should complete the course of HIPAA compliance training and will be responsible to maintain and enforce the HIPAA requirements.

You should make sure that the impact of HIPAA provisions and policies on your company is understood by all staff members. HIPAA requirements should be learned by all employees by making them avail of the ongoing staff training about it. A staff member could have a different access level to a patient’s data from the others, and so the training has to be customized.
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Another step is to ensure that proper safeguarding is done on all patient data. Thus, only authorized personnel should be allowed access to the information and records of a patient. If you have a computer system that contains these sensitive data, the system should be strictly controlled and loaded up with an up to date antivirus software. Also, make sure that your electronic data is regularly backed up.
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If you abide on the mentioned steps, the framework of meeting your HIPAA requirements should be ensured. Just know that the most important aspect of the process is the selection of the HIPAA compliance officer and making sure that the person receives the best training about HIPAA requirements. After the assigned officer has completed the training, the officer should be ready to take the responsibility of setting in place the HIPAA requirements in all levels of the company, to train all staff about securing and managing of privacy of patients data, and to ensure that the computer systems are secure and have a regular back up. Meeting the requirements of HIPAA will ensure your company to be compliant.