Within each public service industry, there are standards by which you must operate to maintain the utmost integrity in your practices, and customer safety and satisfaction. There is an abundance of such standards in the healthcare industry – and not without reason. Private healthcare information is a common target of cybercriminals, making data breaches, and other such risks a constant threat within the medical field. For this reason, it is critical to ensure that your healthcare practice is compliant with the policies outlined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
What to Know About HIPAA Compliance in Your Medical Practice
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was officially made law in 1996. This legislation brought a new, enhanced standard of security for customer information within the healthcare industry. This change did not come one day too late. At this time, hospitals were making the transition from mostly paperwork to a digital system where they recorded the private health information of patients in computer databases.
HIPAA not only ensured that the new method of data recording would adopt a standardized organization system, but that it would be a safe route of storage, handling, and processing of said data. One of the worst possible things that can happen to a hospital, clinic, pharmacy, or similar institution is the loss of, or damage to, patient files. The information that healthcare organizations store for their patients is highly sensitive. It often contains social security numbers, medical identification numbers, addresses, and other data that, if stolen, can endanger the individual’s quality of life.
It is for these reasons that healthcare organizations must continuously monitor their level of HIPAA compliance. Before this statute, medical companies would comply with individualized standards of patient data security. Although this may have worked for some, it created a disjointed, inconsistent system. If ever a patient needed care from multiple institutions, there was no way of knowing whether their information would be safe in the transfer between two facilities.
Further, the irregularity in enforcement between organizations gave way to innumerable errors. While some errors can be easily spotted, others may not be. False information in a patient file can lead to severe consequences for the patient, such as an inappropriate prescription or an incorrect diagnosis. Adherence to HIPAA policies can save your patients from such devastation, and thus, your business from costly lawsuits.
Further Considerations of the Benefits of HIPAA Compliance
From the patient’s perspective, another primary benefit to gain from your facilitity’s HIPAA compliance is choosing who of their loved ones can represent them regarding medical issues. Suppose they ever were to experience an incident that renders them unable to communicate. In that case, they must be able to trust that their medical needs will be met due to the agency provided by HIPAA policies.
HIPAA ensures that they can choose an individual who will see to this on their behalf, serving as the intermediary between themselves and their physician or another healthcare provider. The number of ways HIPAA compliance dramatically enhances the quality of service and care received by your patient is tremendous. It is your responsibility to maintain compliance throughout all operations, serving to protect your patients’ information and the integrity of your practice.