The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (1996), or HIPAA, is a US law designed to make it simpler for people to retain their health insurance when changing their jobs. The legislation set standards for patient information being exchanged electronically, including safeguarding the privacy of these records. The US Department of Health and Human Services originally issued the Privacy Rule for deploying that aspect of the legislation, and the department’s Office of Civil Rights is charged with enforcing it.

The primary goals of HIPAA are to make it simpler for individuals to keep health insurance, help the healthcare sector control admin costs and protect the confidentiality and security of private healthcare data.

Understanding the benefits of HIPAA

HIPAA helps create a culture of both compliance and a common understanding of the correct way to manage and handle patient data. It ensures that each member of any healthcare organisation understands the best practices necessary to safeguard both the security and privacy of patients, to create a physical firewall against the risk of a data breach.

HIPAA also teaches personnel that protecting patients’ personal health information (PHI) is an important aspect of keeping them safe. It is equal to fall prevention, infection control, and safety measures for medication. It promotes careful handling of all PHI, improving patient satisfaction and increasing HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) scores.

It can also increase healthcare providers’ awareness and provide specific instructions about how best to keep a patient’s records safe. HIPAA can eliminate a provider’s need to select between legal risk and communication speed by sharing patient health data in accordance with regulations.

HIPAA reduces executive and organisational liability and protects the organisation and its staff from any personal liability with staff training required by law. It enables positive differentiation between competitors, as practices for HIPAA compliance are more secure in terms of patient information.
It can help construct a foundation for technology implementation in the future and proactively helps organisations avoid costly additional security measures. Finally, it can reduce medical errors while increasing patient trust and satisfaction, improving operational efficiency and the quality of care provided.

The elements of effective HIPAA compliance

Seven Elements have been established for an effective HIPAA compliance programme to act as guidance for organisations to efficiently vet compliance solutions or to create their own dedicated compliance programmes.

These are the bare minimum requirements that any effective compliance programme must address. On top of addressing the complete extent of mandated HIPAA security and privacy standards, an effective compliance programme must also be equipped to handle each of these seven elements. They are as follows:

  • Implementing procedures, written policies and conduct standards
  • Designating a dedicated compliance officer and a compliance committee
  • Carrying out effective education and training
  • Performing internal auditing and monitoring
  • Putting effective methods of communication in place
  • Enforcing standards using disciplinary guidelines
  • Responding promptly to any offences detected and undertaking immediate corrective action

During a HIPAA investigation in response to an identified HIPAA violation, HIPAA auditors will always compare an organisation’s compliance programme against these seven elements to assess its effectiveness.

How Galaxkey can help

At Galaxkey, we provide data protection solutions to help the health sector to comply with specific regulations such as HIPAA. This ensures that health sector operators are compliant, protecting electronic patient healthcare information and data. HIPAA is applicable to all operators in the health sector, pharmaceuticals, and extended support industry. Lack of compliance can lead to serious repercussions, both civil and criminal.

To protect the patient health information you retain, reach out to Galaxkey for advanced data protection and ensure you are compliant.