Technology is invading all practices, including those of medical offices and other health-related institutions like hospitals and dental offices. With the advent of electronic medical records (EMR) and their management systems, medical institutions are capable of eliminating the physical space required to store paper documents, and can instead easily store them in a digital environment. Unfortunately, this also brings its fair share of problems, such as regulatory compliance.
In other words, offices that don’t take steps to adapt to these changing industry standards could be hit with compliance fines that break their budget. If your office doesn’t take precautions to meet the various regulations put into place by HIPAA, HITECH, PCI, and other laws, and if the personal information for your office’s patients is stolen by hackers, your business could be charged somewhere between $100 to $50,000 per record. You don’t need us to tell you that this is an immense cost that’s exceptionally crippling.
To help you keep your office in compliance, we’ve outlined some information about the various laws that you’ll need to know about.
Known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, HIPAA is a set of compliance regulations that are designed to enforce electronic medical record privacy for patients. HIPAA covers, more or less, all healthcare organizations, the medical staff, and employees of the healthcare industry. This includes health insurance providers. Basically, HIPAA is designed to provide those who submit electronic medical records with rights to know how their information is being used and stored within the electronic medical record environment, and to ensure that health records and personal information is stored in accordance to the various security aspects of HIPAA.
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act was first introduced in 2009, and was designed to encourage medical practices to adopt technical solutions to their operational advantage. Specifically, HITECH revamped part of how HIPAA views user privacy. HITECH requires that organizations covered by HIPAA report data breaches of 500+ users to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the media, and to the users affected. Furthermore, it changes the way that organizations handle the disclosure of electronic medical records, as well as how this information is used throughout the caregiving process.
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of security standards that must be met before an organization can choose to implement major card-scanning technology systems. As credit card numbers are one of the hottest targets that hackers gun for, the main goal of PCI is to minimize and prevent credit card fraud. This applies to any organization, regardless of industry or product, that allows transactions to be completed with cards. Some examples of required protocol include maintaining a firewall that protects cardholder data, restricting access to card numbers on a “need-to-know” basis, and tracking and monitoring network resources, including what accesses cardholder data.
Compliance regulations can be difficult to understand if you’re not versed in the specifics. Symmetric IT Group can help your business ensure compliance with the various laws so you don’t wind up in a situation that spells trouble for your organization. To learn more, give us a call at (813) 749-0895.