Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which was formed in 1996 is based on the discretion of patient health information. This is the Digital Era and digitization empowers us in many ways. But with its advantages, technology brings along some disadvantages as well. Technology makes it easier to spread information among masses. But in a field like Healthcare, because of a number of reasons like protecting the basic human right of privacy & enabling them to maintain individuality, it becomes important to protect information. Also, this person health information if gone into unwanted hands can be used against an individual. Hence, HIPAA has listed out some rules & regulations to protect PHI/ePHI.
The two groups that need to comply with the rules defined by HIPAA are:
1- COVERED ENTITIES
2- BUSINESS ASSOCIATES
The covered entities are Hospitals & healthcare providers such as doctors, pharmacies, health insurance companies etc. While the business associates are those entities who have access to Protected Health Information (PHI) on behalf of covered entities such as CPA, Attorney, IT providers, Labs etc.
HIPPA states two rules which are to be followed by both, the covered entities & the business associates. The PRIVACY RULE is the first rule which applies to all healthcare providers whether they use an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system or not. This rule protects the personal health information of a patient and provide them right of access to their own protected health information. The privacy rule defines privacy policies & procedures, administrative responsibilities, documentation & agreements to be maintained between covered entities & business associates and training the workforce to ensure PHI/ePHI.
The second rule is SECURITY RULE. As the name suggests the security rule defines various methods of safeguarding ePHI for covered entities & their business associates. This rule defines various safeguards that entities need to follow in order to secure the ePHI which is created or received by them such as National set of security standards, protect ePHI wth the help of various administrative, physical & technical measures and support the Privacy Rule in every possible manner.
HIPAA has been unambiguously accepted & agreed upon by all healthcare providers as it has many advantages to it. Generally, healthcare providers seek help of IT professionals to help them with cloud solutions. And when they seek such external help in managing their internal information it becomes crucial to abide by the HIPAA rules & regulations. You need to maintain various documents consisting of the contracts between you two.
And there are some healthcare experts who create their own solutions instead of seeking external help. Following is a list of what is the importance of HIPAA compliance for the healthcare exeperts make their own solutions:
1- If you abide by HIPAA rules it simplifies the administration of PHI/ePHI and definitely saves you cost.
2- HIPAA compliance means the standardization of your information because you have to follow some pre-defined formats & codes.
3- If you manage your IT services and create your own solutions it is easier for you to follow HIPAA regulations because it saves you the documentation needed for agreements & contracts with your outside vendor.
4- HIPAA security rules mean that you have to incorporate electronic signatures, password security for web & mobile devices and online transactions which provide security benefits to your organization.
5- Because you have a strong internal IT infrastructure, you can boost your E-Commerce services.
6- You can use security audit tools to ensure the security of your network and protect ePHI from potential hackers.
7- These audit tools not only help you from potential hackers but help you identify internal security threats and loopholes. Which, in the long term, empowers you to create a strong system by eliminating unwanted activities & threats.
8- If you are not partnering with an outside entity to create or maintain your information, it will be easier to have a secure database and chances of database corruption or stealing are lesser.
9- If you are able to secure & protect patient health information you implant a feeling of safety among them and in return you get their loyalty.
It is of utmost importance that you should be well-versed with the legal & technical obligations of a cloud server and how to improve it for optimum utilization.