In 1996, the American government recognized the need for those in healthcare fields to treat patient records as sensitive documents, not to be seen by any but authorized professionals. Because of patients’ need for privacy and security, only those with the need to know the details of a patients’ health information are allowed to view patient records at any time. The resulting HIPAA rules have greatly improved record security and privacy, but have also created many complicated regulations that those in the healthcare field must adhere to in order to remain HIPAA compliant.
HIPAA Privacy Rules
Each patient has the right to control his or her personal health records. Medical documents are considered sensitive information, and are by no means public information for health professionals to disclose to anyone at will. Patients are allowed to determine who sees their medical information. Records that are paper, electronic, oral, and networked are confidential. Each employee has important responsibilities to keep their office compliant with the HIPAA privacy rule, from physically keeping patient files away from unauthorized people to view, locking unused computers and storage equipment, to sending records only to authorized, HIPAA compliant business associates.
HIPAA Security Rules
The HIPAA security rule relates to electronic patient records, and keeping them safe from unauthorized access with external or internal storage and during transit. Electronic patient records are usually stored on computer hard drives, disks, digital memory data, and networks. Each of these storage methods must remain HIPAA compliant.
The penalties for accidentally or knowingly releasing patient records and private information are severe–from fines, termination of employment, office closures, and even jail time. Therefore, it’s crucial for each employee to fully understand HIPAA rules and regulations.
For over two years, HIPAA One has been dedicated to complete knowledge in HIPAA regulations and policies. Our software has made it possible for countless clients to go through the HIPAA auditing and compliance process in a streamlined and highly effective online process. Contact us to find out more about our HIPAA compliance and risk analysis software and support, as well as our secure storage options.