Healthcare systems rely on a lot of personal information from customers. This is the reason why the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, was created. The purpose of HIPAA is to protect all American workers and their families by providing continued health insurance coverage for them while establishing a guideline in confidentially using their personal healthcare information.
There is a guideline available that shows what businesses need to adhere to HIPAA compliance. If your business belongs in the category of “covered entities” or even “business associates”, and you use “protected health information” or PHI, then you need to comply with this law.
What is Protected Health Information
HIPAA compliance is basically for PHI. Also known as “personal health information”, this generally refers to information about a person’s demography, medical history, mental health conditions, laboratory tests taken and results, insurance information, and any other data relevant to a healthcare professional in order to perform their duties at the highest level. This data is collected with the patient’s knowledge and stored, managed, and handled by several different entities which are then covered by the guidelines set forth by HIPAA on how to properly manage this information.
A lot of businesses consider PHI as a commodity which they can use. Worse of all, this is a treasure trove for hackers and other people with malicious intent. If this information falls into their hands, they can do a lot of damage from a financial, personal, and mental standpoint. This is why it is important for any business, organization, and entity to adhere to HIPAA compliance.
HIPAA Compliance Covered Entities
When it comes to covered entities, these are organizations that provide the following:
Some examples of what health plans are provided as a service:
- Health Maintenance Organization or HMO;
- Health maintenance companies
- Employers, schools, and universities that use protected health information when people become employees and students and are enrolled to in-house health plans
Health plans normally need all the PHI from their clients and customers. They handle large amounts of this information and hence can be prime targets for malicious attacks. This is why they specifically need to adhere to HIPAA compliance.
Health Care Clearing Houses
Organizations that collect information from healthcare entities are considered as health care clearing houses also need to adhere to HIPAA compliance. They process data they collect using an industry-standard format which is then provided to another entity or organization. Some examples of these are:
- Health management information systems
- Billing systems/companies
Health Care Providers
Health care providers cover a broad range of companies and entities that are required to adhere to HIPAA compliance. This includes the following professions and services:
- General practitioners
- Laboratory technicians
- Health clinics
- Nursing homes
All of these institutions handle client protected health information. As a matter of fact, they use this information the most which is why it is important for them to comply with HIPAA regulations and guidelines in order to protect their patients.
Organizations, businesses, and individuals who work as a vendor or as a sub-contractor with access to protected health information are also covered by HIPAA compliance.
- Data processing firms
- Medical equipment companies
- Data transmission providers
- Data storage companies
- Data shredding companies
- Medical transcription services
- Consultants who are hired to perform audits, reviews, etc. who are exposed to PHI
- Electronic health information exchanges
- External accountants and other auditors
HIPAA Compliance Service
There is no doubt that HIPAA compliance is very important especially to those entities covered by this act. However, it can be difficult to ensure that one is compliant especially if the company doesn’t have an expert who specializes in these things. Fortunately, you can call on UTSI to be your expert for all things HIPAA compliance.
At UTSI, we are able to provide our clients with full-scale service to ensure that they are compliant with the rules and guidelines set forth by HIPAA. We first analyze your existing systems and process of the organization when dealing with sensitive information. We then create a report based on our observations and provide step-by-step instructions and on-going procedures to comply with HIPAA regulations.
If you need help to ensure your organization is HIPAA compliant, do not hesitate to contact us, we’d be more than happy to assist you.