The Bottom Line: HIPAA COMPLIANCE DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

The US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), was designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system and to adopt national standards for electronic health care transactions and code sets, unique health identifiers, and security. In short, Congress developed an act to protect the privacy of personal health information. As a reminder, it is smart to routinely check the US Department of Health & Human Services website for changes and/or updates to HIPAA regulations and requirements by visiting: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/newsroom/index.html

 

While we know it’s important to protect personal health information, you might be wondering what it actually means to be HIPAA compliant. HIPAA compliance means that every employee or staff member that has access to personal health information (PHI) must ensure that “technical, physical and administrative safeguards are in place and adhered to, that they comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule in order to protect the integrity of PHI, and that – should a breach of PHI occur – they follow the procedure in the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule.” (www.hipaajournal.com)

We are all currently having to deal with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is forcing healthcare organizations to change normal operating procedures, reconfigure hospitals to properly separate patients, open testing centers outside of their normal facilities, and expand tele-health services and remote care. These changes make HIPAA compliance even more difficult. All confidential documents regarding health records of employees and patients may be part of their new day – but also must remain confidential. No matter the situation, it is still essential to comply with the HIPAA privacy laws. A good article to review regarding HIPAA compliance while working from home can be found here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2020/05/01/how-to-avoid-hipaa-violations-while-working-from-home/#6e2dab574207

It is always good to routinely check your company’s security measures HIPAA checklist. You can visit www.HIPAAjournal.comto download a full HIPAA compliance checklist to ensure your business is HIPAA compliant. If your business needs help meeting the HIPAA requirements, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

Citadel Information Management wishes good health to all our readers.

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