How HIPAA Compliance Works – The Security Rule

The medical field is a wonderful one that allows people to make real, lasting change for others. One of the ways it maintains its effectiveness is strict regulations, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Because highly private information is required for effective medical treatment, HIPAA is designed to protect that information as it is shared between doctors, hospitals, and other medical facilities. It makes patient-doctor relationships possible and ensures that patients can receive treatment without having to worry about their information being given out to anyone who doesn’t treat them.

Because HIPAA defines how caregivers interact with physical and electronic forms of information as well as what to do in the case of a breach, it isn’t exactly the most simple law. In the next few blogs, we’re going to dive into HIPAA and just what it means.

The Rules

HIPAA has several rules. These are long documents with many different parts, and we are going to go over how to be in compliance with them. Though the list of rules includes an Enforcement Rule, an Omnibus Rule, and other standards, there are three main rules:

  • The Security Rule
  • The Breach Notification Rule
  • The Privacy Rule

We are going to discuss how to ensure you are in compliance with each of these rules. Let’s dive in!

How to Maintain Compliance with the Security Rule

The Security Rule may be the most important rule in HIPAA, and being in compliance with it is very important to overall compliance. It has a bunch of safeguards for Electronic Protected Health Information (EPHI). The safeguards have three categories: Administrative, Physical, and Technical. We will go ahead and summarize the safeguards, but it is important for you to read the full documents so you know exactly what goes into them.

Within each safeguard category, there are several different areas, including security management, training, and more. We will cover several!

Workforce Security

This section is all about who gets to access the information and how they do it.

  • Clearance Procedure. Does the employee really need to access EPHI? What level and type of information does each employee need? It is important to only give as much access as is needed and not more.
  • Authorization or Supervision. It is helpful to have a way to supervise or identify employees who work with EPHI. It is also important for employees who work in places where EPHI is accessible.

Security Management Process

  • The security management process has several action items, including the following:
    Analysis of Risk. It is important to go through risk analysis regularly. Otherwise, EPHI vulnerabilities can come up and you’ll have no idea.
  • Management of Risk. In the case that you find a vulnerability during analysis, you should have a plan to reduce the risk.
  • Sanction Policy. This policy has penalties for any employee who breaks your internal HIPAA rules. We all wish there was no need for these, but they are important and must be enforced.

Security Training and Awareness

It doesn’t matter how great HIPAA is if employees don’t understand and follow it. This section can help you keep tabs on things.

  • Defenses Against Malicious Software. The electronic world has plenty of danger in it, and it is in your best interest to have procedures in place that can protect your systems. Your employees should be aware of the procedures and how they work.
  • Reminders and Refreshers. Your employees are busy and have a lot on their minds. You can help them out by building in training and renewal processes around HIPAA compliance.
  • Password and Login Systems. It can be really helpful to have a way to monitor attempts to log into your system. You should also have guidelines for keeping your password game strong (creating, guarding, and changing passwords).

Emergency Plans

Even if you have the perfect security system, the unexpected can take it down. We’re talking natural disasters, fires, or sudden system failure. Being prepared for the unexpected isn’t an option, so check out the following action items for ways you can equip your system to keep protecting your patients, even when things go wrong.

  • Recovery Plan. If you lose information, you want to be able to get it back. Work with experts to develop procedures that can restore any EPHI data you lose.
  • Backup Plan. If you regularly back up your EPHI, you won’t have as much work to do when it gets lost. It is normal to both create and maintain copies of your EPHI that make it easy to recover any information you lose.
  • Mid-Emergency Plan. Some emergencies last for a long amount of time, and you need to make sure your EPHI is secure between the beginning and end of the emergency.
  • Plan Testing and Revisions. As technology system develop, plans can become outdated. Test and revise your emergency plans to make sure they’ll actually do the job when the time comes.

We Are Here to Do Our Part for You

Medical professionals have a lot on their plate, and we are here to ensure that you don’t have to worry about biohazard waste disposal in New Mexico and beyond.  We not only collect and dispose of your medical waste, we also can train your team to handle waste correctly on a daily basis. We want to make running your practice as easy as possible. Contact us for essential medical waste disposal you can depend on.

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