HIPAA compliance may seem cumbersome to some practices, while others find the law downright frightening. The complex law is designed to protect patient privacy, as well as the integrity of the medical practice. There are many reasons why HIPAA compliance is essential to a successful medical practice today.
In the 2009 publication, “Beyond the HIPAA Privacy Rule: Enhancing Privacy, Improving Health through Research,” the authors note the importance of patient privacy in supporting basic human rights. It is a common view that privacy supports other fundamental values, including:
• Respect and dignity
• Ability to make personal health decisions
Privacy is also an essential component of a free society, providing societal value as well as personal value.
When patients know their health information is carefully guarded, they are more likely to be transparent with their providers about specific health concerns. This can be especially important with issues like reproduction and substance abuse, but may expand to a wider sphere of health concerns as well. To be able to provide the highest level of care, physicians need to know patients will be candid and honest, and privacy is an important element of that relationship.
Penalties for non-compliance of HIPAA regulations has become expensive indeed, with penalty caps recently increased from $25,000 to $1.5 million per violation annually. In addition, breaches may involve contacting a large percentage of your patient base, which requires additional hours from your staff. As technology continues to be vulnerable to hackers and thieves, the loss of patient health information may be more costly than your practice can afford.
The federal government is cracking down on HIPAA breaches, with new rules that make it easier to trigger federal investigations or stiff penalties from a single security breach. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights is expanding their enforcement team in order to investigate more potential breaches. Even state attorney generals are getting involved with the enforcement of HIPAA compliance.
The bottom line is that HIPAA compliance is not an option for medical practices or their business associates today. If anything, the rules and enforcement of HIPAA have become more rigorous and practices that do not comply may face significant penalties. Practices guilty of breaches are also becoming more well known as media outlets are beginning to make this information public. We are now at the point where you cannot afford non-compliance of any portion of HIPAA.
While HIPAA compliance is a necessity for all medical practices today, the complexity of the law and the need for consistent compliance throughout a medical practice can be time-consuming and even intimidating for some medical practices.
PatientNOW provides the tools to make your office HIPAA compliant. We offer documentation of Release of Information, secure logon, and automatic, timed log off. In addition, you control which user(s) may change or delete record information, thereby protecting the privacy of your patients and securing their PHI (protected health information).
Contact us at 888-644-2987 to learn more about our services today.