5 Quick Checks: Is Your EHR Management HIPAA Compliant?

Five Steps: Is Your EHR Managment HIPAA Compliant?

The advent of electronic health records (EHR) have improved many aspects of health care: faster data sharing, better care coordination, increased patient participation, reduced errors and more.

Healthcare IT HIPAA for Bay Area Practices EHR Systems

But it also means that additional steps are necessary to ensure that your patients’ electronic protected health information (ePHI) is protected and that your practice is compliant with the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA).

Five Starting Steps: EHR and HIPAA

The implementation and maintenance of the following five steps may require specialized expertise, which should be available among your technology support staff. These experts can help your EHR operations run smoothly and help you navigate complex technology-related challenges.

Analyze Risk

The first step in HIPPA compliance is a risk analysis, which can identify potential threats. According to the Office for Civil Rights, a risk analysis involves identifying all sources of ePHI and all potential risks to confidentiality. Once identified, steps can be taken to protect, mitigate, or correct for problems.

Encrypt ePHI

The second step is technological: encrypting ePHI. HIPPA rules require, “the use of an algorithmic process to transform data into a form in which there is a low probability of assigning meaning without use of a confidential process or key.” Your technology services team can help ensure that the right IT solutions are implemented to keep your data properly encryptedat all times.

Secure Hardware

The third step is similar to a locked file cabinet; it provides access only to those with a key. The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends both physical and technical safeguards for ePHI. Physical safeguards limit access to the hardware site and provide use restrictions to workstation facilities. Technical safeguards include:

  • Unique identification
  • Passwords
  • Automatic logouts
  • Emergency access procedures

Establish Clearance Levels

The fourth step is establishing an access hierarchy. Make sure you have clear definitions of who can see what information and for what reason setup properly by your computer support specialists.

As part of this process, your practice may want to create processes to assign access rights based on position levels within your organization (depending on the size of your practice) to serve as an extra precaution instead of relying solely on ad-hock access approvals

Conduct Audit Reports and Periodic Evaluations

The final step is evaluating how well your implementation is performing. This involves routine audits of which users have accessed sensitive information and the review of any healthcare IT related problems and processes observed.

As a busy medical practitioner, you are busy dedicating yourself to providing the best patient care possible. Now with HIPAA Compliance coming down the pipeline, you and your practice may be feeling overwhelmed by the seemingly endless list of requirements necessary to be HIPPA compliant.

Work with your Bay Area IT services provider to ensure that the proper roles for compliance are defined and to establish the policies and procedures necessary to proactively prevent, detect, contain and correct security problems. Our organization is readily available to answer any healthcare IT questions you may have or to set up a free assessment of your HIPPA compliance readiness.

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