Building Your HIPAA Compliance Checklist

HIPAA Compliance Checklist

Achieving HIPAA compliance is a key objective of today’s healthcare facilities and treatment centers. It ensures that patient information and electronic health records (EHRs) remain protected. Though important, some healthcare facilities fail to achieve HIPAA compliance. The inability to achieve compliance results in the loss of sensitive patient information, and requires facilities to pay hefty fines as a result of the intercepted data. 

What hospitals need is a HIPAA compliance checklist, equipped with criteria that must be met to ensure the security of EHRs. So if you’ve delayed gathering the criteria, here’s a checklist of items to include in your HIPAA compliance strategy.

What Makes the Perfect Checklist? 

Building the perfect checklist shouldn’t be a daunting or difficult task. It’s important to connect the chief information security officer (CISO) with healthcare IT management to discuss how to meet HIPAA regulations. It goes without saying that productive, internal discussion leads to desired results. In this case, effective management communication results in creating the perfect HIPAA compliance checklist. 

Regardless of how the checklist is structured, it must consist of three essential items, which include:

  1. Creating security policies and training care team members
  2. Adopting and propagating security safeguards 
  3. Establishing protocols for possible data breaches

Creating Security Policies and Training Care Team Members

Security policies are implemented to combat malicious threats. They’re internal regulations that manage how care team members operate and how healthcare technologies are used. All policies must be documented, ensuring the established procedures are being read and followed. 

As we know, human behavior poses the greatest cybersecurity threat to organizations. Care staff must participate in compliance training, allowing them to gain insight into proper procedures to avert the breach of patient data. Also, team members should use training sessions as a forum to ask proper questions and receive detailed answers. Essentially, the objective is to eliminate all internal vulnerabilities within the healthcare facility. 

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Adopting and Propagating Security Safeguards

Per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), organizations must apply security safeguards to three distinct areas, including:

  • Administrative
  • Physical 
  • Technical 

Administrative Safeguards: Administrators must enforce security training, and continue to revise security policies if found ineffective. They set the standard of what’s expected of care team members regarding security practices. Admins must be proactive in spearheading security procedures, while tasking the right security officers to achieve HIPAA compliance. 

Physical Safeguards: Are created to protect the physical healthcare facility from possible, outside intrusion(s). Further, physical safeguards protect the facility’s medical health equipment. These standards also extend to team members’ homes, properties or anywhere else EHR details are accessed.

Technical Safeguards: The standards ensure that only authorized users have access to EHRs stored in computers. Hospitals must have encrypted, HIPAA-compliant technology to ensure the security of patient information. Legacy technology, such as the traditional pager, need to be exchanged for more secure alternatives, including mobile clinical communication and pager replacement applications. These solutions provide remote wipe features, allowing administrators to effectively prevent access to sensitive information if mobile devices are lost, missing or stolen.

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Establishing Protocols for Possible Data Breaches

In the ideal world, all organizations would stay clear of malicious activities and potential threats. Unfortunately, reaching this utopia isn’t entirely feasible or easy to accomplish in the healthcare industry. Malicious parties are using more sophisticated strategies, increasing the likelihood that EHRs and patient details are intercepted. 

In case of a breach, hospital administrators must be ready to manage and respond to the hack. For instance, administrators must notify all affected parties (i.e., patients and the HHS secretary) following the data breach. Additionally, admins must find viable solutions to their security vulnerabilities. At its core, healthcare facilities must effectively manage the breach, ensuring that the right steps are being taken to help regain patient trust. 

Building the HIPAA compliance checklist enhances a facility’s security operations. Without establishing security measures, hospitals put themselves at risk and at the mercy of malicious parties. Building an effective checklist equates to protected EHRs and helps facilities achieve maximum patient satisfaction. 

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