When it comes to patients’ detailed health information and medical records, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA is in place to afford protection. It’s a federal statute designed to safeguard the confidentiality and privacy of protected health information (PHI). This means that individuals and entities governed by HIPAA should enforce specific standards to ensure more efficient control over the disclosure and accessibility of personal health information.
Hence, if you’re running a HIPAA-covered company, facility, or office, you need to educate yourself about common HIPAA violations in the workplace, including compliance protocols and effective measures to avoid any hassle. Any person or organization that violates specific HIPAA standards can be held liable for the payment of fines, jail time, and other similar punishment.
To save yourself from hefty penalties, below are the three common HIPAA violations in the workplace and how to correct them:
In most industries, losing a work device or any device doesn’t mean anything serious. But for companies, facilities, and offices that handle patients’ protected health information, dealing with a lost device is something that requires serious attention. For instance, if you’re handling patient health information regularly, you undoubtedly prefer to store or communicate relevant data using certain devices like mobile phones, laptops, and tablets.
However, with more technological advancements today, it becomes easier to breach personal health information when devices are lost or stolen. This scenario makes lost work devices one of the leading causes of HIPAA violations. Hence, it’s essential to put up security measures to correct the problem and avoid turning into significant financial losses.
As much as possible, all portable devices used for storing and transmitting health data should be safely kept in the workplace at all times. If they’re brought off-site, you need to implement safety protocols to minimize the risks. These can include enabling tracking location, securing your device with a strong password, or multi-factor authentication. If the device is already lost or stolen, you can correct the situation by locking down the device or tracking it down using GPS. By doing all these things, you can help protect all patient information stored in your gadget.
Unsecured Patient Records
Failure to secure protected health information (PHI) digitally or physically is another common way of breaking HIPAA rules in the workplace. For example, suppose an employee leaves physical medical records of patients at their desks, which exposes them to unauthorized access. In that case, your company or facility can be held liable for a HIPAA violation. Also, if you fail to secure your computer and other work devices with security features, a data breach can happen, violating HIPAA rules.
Unfortunately, these violations can be costly for your business. Thus, to avoid these unnecessary costs, it’s crucial to correct these transgressions by implementing some safety measures. If you’re keeping patient records physically on-site, make sure the files are stored in secure locations. Create a security policy requiring authorized persons to lock up paper files to safeguard them from unauthorized access.
On the other hand, if you’re storing PHI digitally, make sure all the files are encrypted and safeguarded using medical IT solutions and other services. Find time to update your technical software capabilities, install anti-virus software, and password-protect your work devices to limit access to confidential information.
Failure To Train Your Employees
Failing to train your employees about compliance can also be considered a HIPAA violation in the workplace. When your workers don’t know precisely how to protect patient health information, they can unknowingly leak any data, compromising your patients’ right to privacy.
For instance, they may discuss a patient’s information with another person in a public elevator, lobby, or reception. They may also send a patient’s bill to an incorrect mailing address or negligently share certain health information on social media. When all these things happen, your company will be charged more money in fines for transgressing HIPAA rules. That is why you should have a HIPAA-compliant email service (Gmail can be HIPAA compliant with some work).
To correct this costly problem, offering HIPAA training to your employees can be an effective option. When your people are educated and trained about HIPAA compliance, you can reduce their likelihood of leaking confidential patient information to unauthorized third persons.
Typically, HIPAA violations can be serious for businesses, facilities, and offices covered by this federal legislation. Whether it’s a minor or a serious transgression, it can destroy your reputation and cost you thousands to millions of dollars in fines and other penalties.
Therefore, keep the information mentioned above in mind if you’re dealing with violations in your workplace. The more you know about these problems, the more you can put up effective safety measures to correct them and ensure compliance at all times.