Many hospital administrators regard HIPAA with a reluctant sigh. Although the implementation of HIPAA has been in effect for decades, it is continually changing, bringing with it new regulations and standards in the medical field that are both cumbersome and necessary.
To stay compliant in today’s changing world, healthcare admins must understand the root purpose of HIPAA, what rules it entails, and the future of HIPAA in healthcare data regulation.
History of HIPAA
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a U.S. federal law passed in 1996. Its goal is two-fold: (1) to protect the privacy of health information in response to the growing use of technology in storing and transmitting health information, and (2) to protect healthcare coverage for Americans.
HIPAA provides a baseline of protection, establishing national standards for the privacy and security of healthcare information. It imposes rules for how health information can be shared, guarding against potential misuse of data, and sets both requirements and penalties for medical providers to maintain secure systems and for noncompliance.
In addition to the regulations imposed by HIPAA, many states have also implemented their own regulations to further protect health data.
Know Your Rules
Healthcare administrators must have a comprehensive understanding of HIPAA. And they must be knowledgeable of HIPAA’s privacy and security requirements and be able to comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Specifically, healthcare administrators should know:
- The Privacy Rule sets standards for protecting the confidentiality of protected health information (PHI) and gives individuals the right to review and receive copies of their own records.
- The Security Rule establishes procedures for ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information (ePHI).
- The Omnibus Rule sets standards for business associates, service providers, and subcontractors to comply with HIPAA requirements by protecting patient data privacy.
- The Breach Notification Rule requires organizations to report certain breaches of unsecured PHI to affected individuals, the Secretary of HHS, and, in certain cases, to the media.
- The HITECH Act provides additional enforcement and incentive programs to promote greater adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and other health information technologies that helps reduce healthcare costs and improve patient care.
We recommend keeping up with new HIPAA rules and regulatory updates via the Department of Health and Human Services.
Healthcare Admins Must Stay Future-Focused
While there are no set-in-stone changes to HIPAA in 2023, change is still inevitable as discussions of possible updates are on the horizon — namely, the Privacy Rule.
“On April 12, 2023, the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to modify the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule to strengthen reproductive health care privacy,” the HHS noted.
If accepted, this change would alter the sharing of personal privacy information as it relates to reproductive care. This is a simple example of why healthcare administrators must remain vigilant and future-focused, keeping up with HIPAA to remain compliant.
ICS Rises to Meet the Challenge
Fines for violating HIPAA laws can cost healthcare facilities anywhere from $100K to $4M, even landing serious violators in prison. Don’t risk the fines; know your patients’ data is protected 24/7 with the help of ICS. We ensure HIPAA data compliance for small to mid-size medical clinics and hospitals, offering a range of fully-managed cloud hosting and IT services.