Top Things You Should Know About HIPAA Violations In The Workplace To Avoid Penalties
Any healthcare provider, business associate, or employee can be held liable for a HIPAA violation. The penalties for violating HIPAA can be severe and include fines for every violation and imprisonment. This guide will help you avoid penalties at work by explaining what types of information must be protected under HIPAA regulations and how to protect that information when handling it in the workplace.
HIPAA regulations are designed to protect patients from unauthorized access to their medical records. While the penalties for HIPAA violations can be severe, it is important to remember that these laws intend to protect patient privacy and not punish healthcare providers or business associates for honest mistakes. If you think you may have violated HIPAA, you should visit https://www.netsec.news/ to get help about what to do next.
What is HIPAA?
HIPAA is a set of federal laws protecting health information privacy. HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and it was passed in 1996. The legislation allows patients to keep their health information private and requires companies that handle such information to take reasonable steps to protect its security.
In addition to the penalties associated with HIPAA violations, you may also be held liable if your company’s data systems are breached or stolen by hackers or other criminals who use this sensitive data for identity theft purposes.
To help ensure that everyone understands their responsibilities when it comes to protecting patient privacy, we’ve compiled a list of things you should know about HIPAA violations in the workplace:
Who Must Comply with HIPAA Regulations
The HIPAA Privacy Rule applies to all covered entities, which are health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers who conduct certain transactions electronically. However, there are certain exceptions:
- HIPAA business associate agreements – Any business that performs services on behalf of a covered entity must sign a business associate agreement with the covered entity (i.e., your employer). This would include companies that perform payroll processing or handle billing services for your company, as they will have access to protected health information (PHI) and patient data from patients who receive treatment from your company’s medical staff. The BAA ensures that these third parties protect PHI according to standards set forth by HHS’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
- Employees at small businesses – If you work at a small business—one that has fewer than 50 employees—you do not need to concern yourself with HIPAA regulations unless you work in healthcare administration or another role where you have access to PHI or deal directly with patients. In other words, if you work in customer service at an insurance company or as an accountant for one of these companies, then you most likely don’t have direct contact with patients and therefore aren’t required to follow any of the rules outlined by OCR when it comes down protecting their privacy rights under HIPAA legislation.
Know your rights and responsibilities under HIPAA.
In order to understand the HIPAA violation process, it’s important to know what HIPAA is and how it works. HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protects patient privacy in healthcare settings by requiring covered entities such as health plans, clearinghouses, or healthcare providers (or their business associates) to follow certain compliance standards. In addition to protecting patients’ medical records from unauthorized access or disclosure, these policies also give patients the right to direct who has access to their information. These rules include:
- Limiting disclosures of Protected Health Information (PHI) solely on a need-to-know basis;
- Adopting reasonable administrative procedures that ensure accuracy when creating/recording/maintaining PHI; and
- Ensuring that all employees have been trained on security policies before providing access or handling any PHI
Be aware of the types of information that are protected by HIPAA:
When it comes to protecting employee health information (EHI), the first step is becoming familiar with the types of information that are protected by HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) applies to two types of health information:
- Personally identifiable information (PII) – any data that can be used to identify an individual by name, address, social security number, etc. This may also include the date of birth and gender.
- Protected health information (PHI). PHI is a much broader category than PII as it includes any type of medical record or billing details for an individual’s past medical history. While this may seem like an obvious distinction between “health records” and “personally identifiable information” in general terms, there are many nuances within EHI management that make understanding these distinctions very important for compliance purposes.
Take steps to protect your PHI when you are handling it in the workplace.
While HIPAA does not dictate the use of encryption or passwords, it does require that employers take “reasonable and appropriate” precautions to protect PHI. These precautions include:
- Encryption software
- Password protection
- Firewalls and antivirus software
- Physical security measures such as locks and doors where employees work with PHI, as well as cameras in certain areas of the workplace where patients are seen (such as exam rooms).
Logical security measures like data encryption can also be used to protect against hackers who might try to steal sensitive health information from your network without anyone noticing. Logical measures can be just as effective at protecting against theft as physical methods like locks on a door because they prevent someone from accessing your files in the first place by making access impossible once a logon has been entered incorrectly multiple times within a specified period of time.
Be sure to comply with all HIPAA requirements
You must also report any violations of HIPAA, such as a breach of PHI or an improper disclosure of PHI. It is important that you document your compliance with HIPAA requirements. You must keep records of how employees access patient information, how often they access it, and what type(s) of information they access. Additionally, if there are any changes in employees’ roles or responsibilities related to protected health information (PHI), those changes must also be documented.
HIPAA Obligations For Business Associates
As a business associate, you are subject to the same HIPAA requirements as covered entities. You must have a written contract with the covered entity that spells out your responsibilities and those of the covered entity. You are responsible for maintaining the security of PHI in your possession or control, just as they would be if they were storing it themselves.
How To Avoid Penalties At the Workplace
The best way to avoid penalties is to make sure you are in compliance with HIPAA. If your company is a covered entity or has patients that are protected under HIPAA regulations, then there are certain steps that must be taken to ensure privacy. These steps include:
- Notifying employees about their privacy rights and how they can complain if they believe their information was disclosed without authorization.
- Implementing formal procedures for protecting electronic health information (EHI).
- Training staff members on the importance of compliance with EHI and implementing policies as required by law.
In this article, we have discussed the top things to know about HIPAA violations in the workplace to avoid penalties. While HIPAA is a regulation that applies to many different kinds of entities, it can still be confusing for many people who are unfamiliar with it. However, by becoming familiar with the basics of this law and understanding exactly what it covers and your responsibilities when handling protected health information (PHI), you will be able to navigate this process more easily.