Right now, healthcare professionals are hard to come by. At the same time, demand for healthcare has never been higher. This confluence of variables has put a tremendous amount of stress on providers, who now need to deliver a superior standard of care with fewer resources and relief valves. Digital software has become the norm in healthcare because it helps alleviate some of this strain. However, with the introduction of digital systems comes the need to safeguard critical patient data.
While HIPAA standards are well-ingrained in the minds of many healthcare professionals, their understanding of best practices can get a little blurred where digital systems come into play. Here’s a look at what healthcare organizations need to remember as they turn to compliance software and HIPAA training for help.
What is HIPAA?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a mandatory government regulation that was passed in 1996. Through HIPAA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandates universal standards for all American hospitals when it comes to proper governance of Patient Health Information (PHI).
A wide range of organizations must commit to HIPAA with standards, including (but aren’t limited to):
- Every healthcare provider operating in the United States
- Institutions that operate and pay for health plans
- Healthcare clearinghouses, which are tasked with standardizing health information
- Business associates that use PHI for purposes such as billing or data analysis
HIPAA was designed around more than just the governance of healthcare patients’ private information. It also created regulatory standards for organizations providing care, including the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the HIPAA Security Rule:
HIPAA Privacy Rule
The HIPAA Privacy Rule sets national standards for protecting the privacy of individuals’ health information. It requires anyone handling PHI to implement appropriate safeguards to protect the confidentiality and security of that information. The rule also gives patients certain rights over their health information, including the right to access and control it.
HIPAA Security Rule
The HIPAA Security Rule sets national standards for protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of PHI — specifically, digital patient data. It requires that entities enact safeguards to protect patient data from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. The rule also requires covered entities to have policies and procedures in place to respond to security incidents, and to regularly review and update their security measures.
Adherence to the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules is a critical facet of compliance. And, with the increasing proliferation of digital patient data, it’s even more important for organizations to stay compliant with them.
What is the Purpose of Compliance Software?
Compliance programs can help healthcare organizations adhere to regulations across the scope of operations. One such day-to-day operation at any healthcare facility is managing patients’ PHI. Maintaining HIPAA compliance in order to protect patient privacy and data is required by law.
For example, as telemedicine becomes increasingly popular, understanding how to safely relay patient data is key. One way to ensure staff are following HIPAA regulations, is by distributing company policies that require staff acknowledgment of these standards of practice. Furthermore, having a robust incident reporting system that is easily accessible to employees enables staff to report HIPAA breaches as they occur — which is a legal obligation.
Pairing Compliance Software with HIPAA Training
It’s important to realize that compliance software and a fundamental understanding of HIPAA aren’t mutually exclusive. To make sure they’re in alignment with HIPAA standards and expectations, healthcare organizations need to train their staff on HIPAA fundamentals — particularly as they apply to digital PHI.
A learning management system (LMS) can complement compliance software — especially when used in tandem. A compliance training platform will give healthcare professionals the fundamental knowledge they need to operate within safe HIPAA guidelines, and can even help them realize situations where compliance software might be useful.
Using the telemedicine example from above, compliance software is great for ensuring safe communication, but it’s only useful if providers realize the need for it! This is where compliance training comes in, and why it’s equally important (if not more so).
The Advantages of Utilizing Software to Help Maintain HIPAA Compliance
Incorporating a compliance training platform and compliance software open the door to incredible benefits for healthcare organizations:
- Increased patient trust. By demonstrating that an institution safely follows HIPAA, patients will achieve peace of mind knowing their private medical info won’t be leaked and is in safe hands.
- Patient loyalty to providers. Patient trust leads to loyalty — and the inverse is true, as well. Security breaches due to HIPAA noncompliance can decrease a patient’s loyalty and send them to another provider.
- Penalty prevention. There are steep fines and penalties for HIPAA noncompliance — up to $50,000 per incident! Training staff on HIPAA compliance and using software to maintain that compliance can safeguard against these fines.
- Audit compliance. Auditing systems is part of HIPAA compliance. Software makes auditing and recordkeeping easy, and ensures there’s a clear and relevant process for keeping your processes in alignment with HIPAA.
- Address noncompliance. Using software to train on HIPAA standards creates a more informed workforce that can more easily spot potential noncompliance. Moreover, HIPAA compliance software creates a culture of actionability in fixing those errors.
In addition to all these benefits, digitizing also increases accessibility to policies, procedures, and other documentation. Whether for training, reference, or updating, HIPAA-compliant policies are all in one place, accessible for healthcare professionals where and when they need them.
Create a Culture Rooted in HIPAA Compliance
The digital age of healthcare is here, which means it’s time for healthcare organizations to digitize their HIPAA regulation management. And, for healthcare organizations seeking more than just HIPAA regulation management, MedTrainer has a variety of services to ensure broad compliance across all areas of operation.
From our credentialing platform — to ensure the verification of every provider’s skills — to MedTrainer courses that assist with employee training, we offer numerous solutions to raise the bar for quality. Whether for a community health center or a rural hospital, MedTrainer’s products make work easier for providers. Contact us today to learn more!