Common Violations of HIPAA

Common Violations of HIPAA

Do you know about HIPAA? If you don’t, then you are in the right place. Here you will find all the detailed information about HIPAA and things you should know about it.  

HIPAA is a healthcare act that stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The law, first introduced in 1996, was overseen by the U.S. Office of Civil Rights. It protects and monitors access to confidential medical information that, if made public, could reveal or imply the identities of patients. 

Moreover, HIPAA protects the privacy of citizens and works to ensure the confidentiality of medical data. Those who violate patient privacy by disregarding HIPAA guidelines may be subject to criminal charges or civil repercussions.

What is HIPAA?

 Although HIPAA was signed into law in 1996, the “portability” aspect of the law (protecting the ability of people with current or pre-existing medical conditions to obtain health insurance) is fully implemented. It has now started to address the “accountability” aspect of the law. Many of its provisions include strict regulations on standardized transfers of electronic data, including billing and other day-to-day exchanges. 

New patient rights related to personal health information, including the right to access and restrict disclosure of such information. It also clarifies specific physical, procedural, and technical safeguards that all healthcare facilities must implement to ensure the confidentiality of patient medical information.

In summary, HIPAA standards will require how healthcare organizations handle all aspects of information management, including reimbursement, coding, security, patient records, and care management. Beginning with the Fall 2002 Transactional Standards, the rules governing the electronic data exchange of health-related information, every practice in the United States must comply with these regulations.

What is the Purpose of HIPAA?

The main purpose of HIPAA is to focus on patient security, protection, and insurance. Additionally, HIPAA protects patients by focusing on three main areas: privacy protection, security measures, and flexible insurance. 

Moreover, portable insurance is one of the key benefits of HIPAA. It allows people who leave or lose their jobs to continue to insure their families. 

On the security front, HIPAA makes even accidental references to medical exams, results, doctor visits, and billing to people who are not required by law to know that information is illegal. This means patients don’t have to worry about leaving personal files for public viewing or in copiers. They can also worry less about the news that doctors, nurses, or medical secretaries are involved in their visits.

Companies need to provide adequate security for electronic and printed documents. HIPAA requires companies to hire compliance officers to study whether patients or consumers are truly protected. The penalties are severe for those who try to circumvent HIPAA rules. They could face hefty financial penalties and even jail time.

HIPAA Rules

The HIPAA Privacy Rule sets national standards for the protection of personal medical records and other personally identifiable health information (collectively, “Protected Health Information”) and applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and Healthcare providers conducting transactions electronically. 

The rule requires appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of PHI and sets limits and conditions for the use and disclosure of such information without the individual’s permission. The rule also gives individuals rights to their PHI, including the right to inspect and obtain their health records, directs covered entities to send electronic copies of their PHI to third parties in electronic health records, and the right to request corrections.

What is the HIPAA Certification?

The Certified HIPAA Professional (CHP) exam verifies knowledge and skills in the core areas of HIPAA administrative simplification legislation, transaction set and token requirements, privacy requirements, and security requirements. This means that a third-party certification company will audit your company to see if it is HIPAA compliant. If it complies with privacy and security standards and HIPAA breach notification rules, you can become informally HIPAA certified.

Moreover, the HIPAA Certification cost for Professionals is $695. However, the exam fee is not included in the training fee.

It’s important to realize that you need to be compliant; not certified. During an OCR review, you just need a piece of paper. You must demonstrate what you do in your day-to-day practice of complying with HIPAA rules.

How Medical Billing and HIPAA are associated? 

For most of us, our experience with HIPAA and medical billing come primarily when we go to the doctor or perform surgery in the hospital. From a patient perspective, the primary goal of HIPAA is to prevent anyone from misusing our personal health information. This could explain why HIPAA is starting to see more and more medical bills and medical debt collections. The truth is, HIPAA’s impact is far more profound than most of us know. And it can help us when we’re faced with collecting a medical debt. So medical billing and HIPAA are interlinked with each other.

Common Violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has been in effect for over two decades. But, unfortunately, violations of HIPAA persist in the healthcare industry. Here, we have listed five of the most common violations.

No matter how small or minute, there is always the potential for a HIPAA breach to be extremely harmful, but also to the privacy of the affected patients. As a result, there are sometimes huge financial consequences for non-compliance. However, fines can be range from $100 to a maximum of $1.5 million.

Some violations occur more often than others, however, being proactive is critical to violating HIPAA violations. To ensure your practice is HIPAA compliant, review these five most common HIPAA violations and keep them in mind, hopefully avoiding them in your practice as well.

Unencrypted Lost or Stolen Devices

One of the most common HIPAA violations, lost or stolen equipment can easily lead to PHI theft. Phones also do not have passwords or encryption to protect PHI. Our cell phones are a part of our daily lives, and the sensitive information a cell phone may contain can sometimes be taken lightly. Especially, when service providers use it for business purposes.

Furthermore, we tend to forget our phones or leave them unattended, especially in cozy environments like an office. However, if the wrong people get calls and PHI, this neglect can lead to major problems for the practice.

Lack of Employee Training

Having employees who are consistently HIPAA compliant is a testament to employee diligence and the result of top management training. Unfortunately, many practices fail to rigorously train employees to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Obvious HIPAA compliance issues won’t be a problem without proper or comprehensive training, but smaller, more complex violations can cause problems due to a lack of knowledge among employees. Unfortunately, with this practice, even small violations can lead to major problems. So you should proactively train your employees on anything related to HIPAA compliance.

Database Violations

Given the scope of some of these incidents, data breaches are sure to get the most publicity from these HIPAA breaches. Any organization is vulnerable to hacking, which is why it is so important that every health organization takes database breaches seriously. and implements security measures to guard against them. For the record, back in 2016, data breaches cost the healthcare industry an estimated $6.2 billion.

Gossip/Sharing of Protected Information

Conversations between colleagues are usually not a problem. But in medical practice, this standard does not always apply. Of course, there will always be situations where a doctor needs to discuss a patient’s diagnosis, treatment plan, medications, and more.

However, these conversations must be held in secret, not in public. Although seemingly harmless, careless discussions of patient information about non-medical staff can compromise patient privacy and lead to financial consequences for the practice.

Mishandling of PHI

Comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements for complete and proper disposal of PHI. Failure to do so may make patients more likely to disclose their private information.

When handling PHI, staff should consistently shred or destroy patient records. Deleting records is not enough, it makes PHI more accessible to the wrong people. Additionally, it is important not to forget to delete patient records or protected health information from the hard drive if stored electronically. Proper employee training helps to ensure that PHI is protected and secured from initial establishment to disposal.

I-Med Claims works to lower your medical bills, increase your cash flow without any negligence. 

At I-Med Claims, we focus on helping you reduce medical debt to manageable levels by actively negotiating on your behalf with billing services and debt collection agencies. Before we can start negotiations on your behalf, you must sign the HIPAA document and provide us with the necessary information. Once we have the information we need, we can often save up to 60% on medical debt. If your medical bills seem to be piling up and don’t know where to start, contact us with I-Med Claims Now.

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