The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law which governs any health-related transactions and procedures in order to protect patient privacy and health information. It is absolutely crucial for any medical practice or physician to be HIPAA compliant. If you are a healthcare provider or run an independent medical practice of any kind, you can utilize technology in several different ways to help uphold HIPAA. These include:
#1. Medical Communications
One of the most common ways that HIPAA is breached is via insecure electronic communications which can end up in the wrong hands. Whilst it’s important for health professionals to communicate with one another regarding their patients, it’s vital to ensure that this is done in a manner which does not compromise patient confidentiality or privacy in any way. HIPAA compliant texting solutions can be used by your practice staff to share sensitive information about patients whilst ensuring that it stays secure and protected.
#2. Staff Training
A lack of proper staff training is unfortunately a common precursor to HIPAA breaches. The fact of the matter is that if employees are not properly trained on the right procedures to uphold HIPAA, they are at a much bigger risk of breaking this federal law which can lead to serious consequences for both themselves and your practice. Technology can be used to provide employees with easy-to-access training materials, for example, an app on their smartphone that they can use to improve their HIPAA compliance knowledge outside of work.
#3. Get Feedback
Whilst training your employees on properly upholding HIPAA is an important step for any medical employer to take, you should also check in with them often to determine how well your training methods are working. You can use online surveys and polls to find out what your employees think of HIPAA procedures in your practice and what they believe can be done to make it easier for them to ensure that they comply at all times.
#4. Store Data Securely
Another vital way in which technology is used to uphold HIPAA today is through the secure storage of patient data and information. Today, data storage has come a long way from paper in locked filing cabinets, and technology has presented a whole range of alternative, more secure options for keeping your patients’ private information secure. To avoid a data breach, the best method of data storage is the cloud. Cloud applications allow you to store sensitive patient information securely on a server with access only granted to those with the right credentials.
#5. Safeguarding Policies
Lastly, implementing the right safeguarding policies for using technology in your practice will reduce the risk of failing to comply with HIPAA. For example, any technology devices such as laptops or smartphones used to communicate private patient information should be strongly password protected at all times. You should also require all employees to regularly update their login credentials to improve security levels and prevent any patient information from falling into the wrong hands.
How do you use technology to uphold HIPAA at work? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.