Many companies who manage health-related data are aware of HIPAA regulations. However, not everyone is familiar with the HITECH Act, which enforces HIPAA rules to a greater degree.
What is the HITECH Act?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the purpose of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act is “to promote the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology. Subtitle D of the HITECH Act addresses the privacy and security concerns associated with the electronic transmission of health information, in part, through several provisions that strengthen the civil and criminal enforcement of the HIPAA rules.”
4 Tips for HITECH Compliance in Your Business
If your business deals with health information, either directly or as a third party, you need to make sure you are compliant in the following ways:
1. Make sure you’re complying with any HIPAA regulations in effect
This includes making sure all forms of protected health information (PHI), both physical and electronic records, are kept secure and private to the proper degree.
2. Report any discovered breaches to the appropriate parties, whether you are considered a covered entity or a business associate
The number of individuals affected by a breach determines how soon it needs to be reported, as well as which parties need to be notified, as the Department of Health & Human Services explains in this article.
3. Make use of secure electronic health records and technology when appropriate
For health care facilities, it’s important to properly document such things as their patients’ relevant medical history and problems, medications, allergies, and recommended plan of care. Patients should also be able to get electronic access to their health information.
4. Use business associate agreements
Most third parties doing business with a health care practice who have any type of access or interaction with PHI, (including for such things as billing or accounting,) need to have an appropriate contract/agreement and should keep a copy of each agreement for their records. Additionally, it’s important to note that business associates can be held responsible for violating certain HITECH regulations.
The HITECH Act has strengthened HIPAA regulations, and being compliant should be the goal of any business that is in or has dealings with the medical field. If you’re noncompliant, this means the potential for very high penalties- a maximum of $1.5 million per calendar year “for all violations of an identical provision.” The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at times conducts audits of different businesses to ensure they are compliant.
With so much of HIPAA and HITECH compliance hinging on secure electronic records and data, it’s essential to have IT support you can rely on. medicalmsp offers budget-friendly services to keep your technology running smoothly and securely, while you focus on other important aspects of your business.
Please contact us for a free quote.