Are You HIPAA Compliant? The Complete 2020 HIPAA Compliance Checklist

Did you know that HIPAA laws don't just apply to paper records? According to HIPAA, you need to be careful about your emails, faxes, and text messages too!

Lockable filing cabinets are no longer enough. You may be taking on more liability than you realize!

Failing to be HIPAA compliant can land you with civil and criminal penalties. Discover the complete 2020 HIPAA compliance checklist here.

How to Be HIPAA Compliant

Created in 1996, when paper files still ruled the day, HIPAA wanted to make the nation's healthcare system more organized.

One of the most important things HIPAA accomplished was to limit outside access to a patient's health records, known as PHI, or patient health information. 

Health records often display sensitive information. PHI includes names, social security numbers, license plate numbers, fax and telephone numbers, as well as a mountain of private information.

Over the last 25 years, HIPAA has evolved to include electronic communication as well. As hospitals get more dependent on email and texting, protecting PHI becomes more of a unique challenge than just keeping records behind lock and key.

HIPAA Safeguards

The three main areas HIPAA covers are technical, physical, and administrative safeguards. While there are many recommended actions, only the mandatory items are listed below:

Technical Safeguards 

Technical safeguards are what you want to pay attention to when considering HIPAA-compliant email, or any other form of electronic communication. These points are the most important:

  • Encryption of PHI to protect it when sent over an external network

  • Control access for each user, via a login and PIN

  • Protocols in place regarding when to release electronic PHI in the event of an emergency

Physical Safeguards

A Physical safeguard monitor who has access to the facility, include visitors, like maintenance crews and custodians. Also, HIPAA states that an office must limit PIH access to specific workstations and guard against someone spying on the screen.

According to HIPAA, you must also make sure to encrypt cell phones and tablets staff members may use to communicate with patients. It is important to protect any information you send in a text message.

So, if you're asking yourself, is texting HIPAA compliant? Yes, it can be, as long as it's on hospital devices that are encrypted. 

Like HIPAA compliant email or HIPAA compliant fax, the safeguards ensure that anything sent across networks stays out of the hands of outsiders. 

Administrative Safeguards

HIPAA risk assessments are to help staff members follow the rules and not mess up. A risk assessment includes letting staff know they can get in a lot of trouble for violating the standards.

Playing Dumb Is Not an Option

If you mistakenly violated HIPAA standards, you can get into as much hot water as if you did it on purpose. Whether your neglect was willful or accidental, your organization will face the consequences. 

The privacy of your clients is important. Being HIPAA compliant is something you should take very seriously, even when texting. 

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