It’s unlikely that you haven’t heard of the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or what is more commonly known as HIPAA, whether you are new to the healthcare field or have been working here for some time. According to the HIPAA compliance framework, Protected Health Information (PHI) about patients must be stored and used securely, as dictated by federal law, and established by then President Clinton in 1996.
It may be difficult to understand the complex set of laws and regulations governing HIPAA if you are not a lawyer who has dealt with this compliance framework before. Since the original HIPAA law went into force in 1996, it has undergone multiple modifications, and therefore many professionals have ongoing questions.
Being aware of your difficulties, we, at Akitra, decided to curate a series that answers the most frequently asked questions concerning the HIPAA compliance framework. Our objective is to give you factual information that you can use to better comprehend this complex regulatory structure.
If you want to take a glance at the first part of this guide, you can do so by clicking right here <insert link to the first blog on the topic>.
What is HIPAA?
HIPAA is an abbreviation for Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
HIPAA is primarily designed to protect and safeguard patient protected health information (PHI), which includes any personally identifiable health information like names, contact information, social security numbers (SSNs), medical record numbers, and biometric data, among others.
Through the security rule, the privacy rule, and the breach reporting rule, HIPAA seeks to achieve a number of objectives, including to ensure that PHI is kept secure and confidential.
Find out more about HIPAA’s operation, applications, advantages, violations, etc. by reading one of our earlier posts right here.
5 Most Frequently Asked Questions about HIPAA Compliance
- Who enforces HIPAA compliance?
The federal agency in charge of ensuring HIPAA compliance is the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
- What is a Covered Entity (CE)?
Any company that is required by law to abide by HIPAA requirements, such as healthcare providers, health plans, and clearinghouses can be called covered entities. Doctors, medical, dental, and vision clinics, hospitals, and other allied health carers are all considered health care providers in this context. Health plans include health insurance companies, healthcare maintenance organizations (HMOs), and company health plans.
- What is a Business Associate and a Business Associate Agreement?
Businesses that create, receive, store, transfer, or keep PHI on behalf of their covered entity clients are known as business associates. Business partners could supply software, invoicing services, or electronic health record providers. Healthcare providers in the US are required by HIPAA to only purchase their technology from vendors who provide business associate agreements (BAA).
A BAA restricts each signing party’s liability by requiring them to be HIPAA compliant and to be in charge of maintaining that compliance.
- What are the basic HIPAA training requirements?
Every personnel with access to PHI must receive training under HIPAA. HIPAA basics, cybersecurity best practices, and their organization’s internal HIPAA regulations and procedures must all be covered in training. Employees must receive training at employment and retraining every year after that in order to comply with HIPAA standards.
Training should also be provided when a need is identified, for instance such as when there are changes in the technology used or when new rules are issued by the HHS.
- Does HIPAA extend to wearable medical tech and other devices?
It can, if the gadget gathers, keeps, or sends PHI to a Covered Entity or Business Associate company (such as glucose levels associated with a specific person, for example). Medical gadgets, wearables, and IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) devices are rising in popularity and these devices have become increasingly equipped with WiFi and Bluetooth as well as built-in microprocessors that can store PHI data and transmit it to the cloud so that a Covered Entity or Business Associate may access it. A smart watch that is used for personal purposes and is not connected to the internet or on a segregated network is not subject to HIPAA, but one that is distributed as part of a corporate wellness program and connected to a CE or BA would be. Companies that sell such gadgets have a Business Associate Agreement for this particular application.
HIPAA Compliance with Akitra!
Establishing trust is a crucial competitive differentiator when courting new SaaS businesses in today’s era of data breaches and compromised privacy. Customers and partners want assurances that the organizations with whom they do business are doing everything possible to prevent disclosing sensitive data and putting them at risk. Compliance certification fills that need.
Akitra offers an industry-leading, AI-powered Compliance Automation platform for SaaS companies. Using automated evidence collection and continuous monitoring, together with a full suite of customizable policies and controls as a compliance foundation, our service helps customers become certified for HIPAA, along with other frameworks like SOC 1, SOC 2, ISO 27001, 27017, 27018, PCI DSS, GDPR and NIST 800-53. Our compliance and security experts will also provide you with the customized guidance you need to confidently navigate the end-to-end compliance process.
The benefits of our solution include enormous savings in time, human resources, and money — including discounted audit fees with our audit firm partners. Customers achieve compliance certification fast and cost-effectively, stay continuously compliant as they grow, and can become certified under additional frameworks using a single compliance automation platform.
Build customer trust. Choose Akitra TODAY!
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