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As healthcare providers everywhere have larger volumes of medical records to maintain, it has also put pressure on them to come into compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, better known as HIPAA. Generally seen as a complicated regulatory scheme whose requirements must be met, it has numerous policies and procedures that must be followed in order for a healthcare provider to be in full compliance. However, learning how to come into compliance with HIPAA can be a difficult process. Because of this, numerous healthcare providers and business entities find themselves violating HIPAA regulations. If you are a healthcare provider who is having difficulty with HIPAA, contact an experienced HIPAA compliance attorney who can help you understand what’s involved in gaining a better understanding of the rules and regulations regarding HIPAA.
Who Must Comply with HIPAA?
According to HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules, all “covered entities” must comply with HIPAA. Those classified as covered entities include healthcare plans, healthcare providers who transmit any healthcare information in electronic form, and all healthcare clearinghouses such as billing companies. Along with these groups, any business associate of a covered entity must comply with HIPAA.
Individual Rights Under HIPAA
As patients become more and more concerned about keeping their personal information private, regulations have dictated that individuals have numerous rights to which they are entitled. For starters, they can restrict the uses and disclosures of their health information, which can provide increased peace of mind. Along with this, a patient may request that any confidential information be sent to them by alternative means, such as having correspondence sent to an office rather than their home. In addition, patients can inspect and obtain copies of their health information, and in special circumstances request amendments to their health information.
Complying With the HIPAA Privacy Rule
For many healthcare providers, complying with the HIPAA Privacy Rule can be one of the most difficult aspects of the Act. To be in full compliance with this rule, they will need to address a variety of issues including appointing a privacy officer and contact person to receive and review complaints, developing the proper consent, authorization, and notice forms for patients, develop updated privacy policies and procedures, and training of staff on privacy issues. For the most part, general aspects of the Privacy Rule can be the most difficult to achieve. In these instances, it’s best to have a HIPAA compliance lawyer who is able to navigate their way through the seemingly endless red tape of government bureaucracy. If these rules are not complied with over time, patients can file lawsuits against the healthcare provider or business entity, alleging that their private information was not protected to the best abilities of those who were in charge of it at the time. To keep this from occurring, healthcare providers should consult with a HIPAA compliance lawyer who has the skills and experience needed to ensure all details are properly followed when attempting to be in full compliance with the regulations.
Conducting a Risk Analysis
To make sure they are aware of any potential hazards related to patient information, all healthcare providers and business entities are required to conduct an annual risk analysis of their records management system. During this analysis, investigating administrative procedures and technical security protocol can be vital to guarding the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of the healthcare records. If any unauthorized access to patient data is uncovered, technical security measures must be implemented quickly to avoid legal consequences.
How Can a HIPAA Compliance Lawyer Help?
Due to these situations being extremely complex due to numerous regulations, it’s very important for a healthcare provider or covered entity to utilize the services of a HIPAA compliance lawyer. Whether it’s learning how to create and implement privacy policies or discussing the details of a complaint filed against them by a patient, the knowledge and skills of a HIPAA lawyer can be instrumental in keeping a situation from getting out of hand. If you are a healthcare provider, covered entity, or business associate of a provider who is experiencing difficulties with HIPAA rules and regulations, consulting with a compliance lawyer can help resolve the most difficult of situations to everyone’s satisfaction.