Regulations the Keep You Safe.
Regulations the Keep You Safe.
Transparency at Every Cost
Today, many things can happen to the health of a patient, and we want to ensure that the right people know what is going on and how to take care of things when it matters most. Pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, the Department of Health and Human Services promulgates rules and regulations to regulate the privacy and security of medical information. The purpose of the law is to improve portability of health insurance coverage, reduce healthcare fraud and abuse and to protect individual privacy of personal health records. Please note: After HIPAA went into effect, several sets of regulations were promulgated, two rules are key for marketers—the “Privacy Rule” and the “Security Rule”. The Privacy rule creates national standards to protect the privacy of personal information, while the Security Rule governs the security of electronic healthcare information. Each must be reviewed by organizations that are using health information of individuals.
Every patient that the WBT Foundation comes into contact with MUST take every precaution in knowing that their health records or any thing related to their patient chart is secure and safe.
Healthcare organizations, clearinghouses and health plans (also known as Covered Entities under HIPAA Law) have been required to take steps to safeguard individually identifiable health information against wrongful access and use. This is under the umbrella of the Privacy Rule and to ensure that it does not impose an undue burden on small providers that may probably not need complex systems and procedures be put in place, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has adopted the concept of “Scalability”. This refers to the expectation that covered entities implement privacy policies and procedures that are suitable to the entity’s size, resources, technology, and organizational needs. Therefore, while the HIPAA law adapts uniform standards, these covered entities have the flexibility to make privacy policies and procedures that are just right for their respective circumstances. In line with this discussion, we ask, what the responsibilities of hospitals are in particular under the Privacy Rule of HIPAA law.
Healthcare organizations are mandated to develop, adopt and implement privacy policies and procedures. Proper documentation must also be placed for these privacy policies and procedures as well as the step-by-step actions needed to be done when a breach occurs violating the patients’ privacy rights.
As for the Notice of Privacy Rights, hospitals should develop and distribute a notice that provides a clear explanation of the patients’ privacy rights with respect to their personal health information. The organization must also obtain an acknowledgment of receipt from all the patients of these NPPs.
According to HIPAA rule 45 CFR 164.502(b), 164.514(d) “…..The minimum necessary standard requires covered entities to evaluate their practices and enhance safeguards as needed to limit unnecessary or inappropriate access to and disclosure of protected health information….” The hospital should be able to cover in its privacy policies and procedures that need to access the protected health information (PHI) to carry out their job, the categories of PHI and the circumstances where access to this sensitive information is necessary or appropriate. For example, front desk staff does not warrant full access to the medical record of patients but physicians or nurses do. Considering the duties and responsibilities of a front desk staff, only the basic information about the patient should be accessible such as name, address and contact details especially if the same staff is supposed to set appointments for and with the patient concerned.
As a basic rule, a patient’s authorization is requested before disclosing their protected health information (PHI) to carry out treatment, payments, and health care operations.
But let’s say the patient is in serious injury and will not be capable to make medical decisions for themselves, then the physician may discuss the patient’s health information with their families so as the latter be able to make a sound decision on behalf of the patient’s medical treatments. The doctors are also allowed to share these medical records with other healthcare providers when the patient’s health and treatment are concerned and when these health care providers are involved in the patient’s care. Otherwise, these medical records are not shareable to other healthcare providers not involved with the patient’s health care unless the personal identifiable information has been omitted. NIST lists these PII as follows:
Routine disclosures are those that are made regularly and frequently. One good example is payment for medical treatments. Sample payment activities that do not require an authorization from the patient for PHI use and disclosure are:
As for the healthcare operations, these activities involve use and disclosure of PHI for improving operations and quality of patient care. Some examples of such activities are:
HIPAA Law mandates covered entities to develop adequate and suitable administrative, technical and physical safeguards for protected health information. However, considering the size of an organization, the PHI it holds and the circumstances the organization is in, gives the organization the flexibility to decide on developing ‘Reasonable” safeguards to protect PHI as there iareno guarantee covered entities will be able to shield PHI from all potential risks. But be mindful that first and foremost before any administrative, technical or physical safeguards are put in place, the healthcare organization must first conduct a risk assessment. Note as well that these three safeguards are falling under the umbrella of HIPAA Security Rule which strictly covers ePHI or electronic protected health information.
Here are the basic descriptions for each of the three safeguards:
Each and every covered entity must ensure that before they deal with third party organizations which will create, store or transmit ePHI, in that they have entered valid BAA or Business Associate Agreements with these third parties. In a previous article we have published, we have discussed about a checklist one must review when entering into Business Associate Agreements. Review this checklist and find out the things that you might need to consider when creating the BAAs.
A HIPAA privacy officer also known as chief privacy officer (CPO)–oversees the development, implementation, maintenance of, and adherence to privacy policies and procedures regarding the safe use and handling of protected health information (PHI) in compliance with federal and state HIPAA law. Being a PO is a big responsibility and we have enumerated the several tasks a privacy officer assumes in his role.
Providing HIPAA Awareness Training to all the employees within the organization, from rank-and-file up to the executives, are a crucial part of being HIPAA compliant. Human Resources must ensure that all employment contracts of personnel, who will have access, will use or transmit ePHI or PHI shall undergo HIPAA compliance and awareness trainings. These trainings should be conducted in a yearly or regular basis as a refresher training sessions or to learn any updates and new releases pertaining to HIPAA regulations.
Evaluate your knowledge of these duties and responsibilities as a HIPAA compliant facility. Take charge and make actions today! For a no-obligation, free HIPAA compliance assessment right in your facility, do not hesitate to contact us, we are your partners from the assessment onwards!