We’ve all heard about HIPAA compliance and what we need to do to ensure our use of technology meets current regulations. But with a healthcare industry that’s continually evolving, this means that rules and regulations are as well.

With these constant changes, every healthcare-related organization in the Triangle of North Carolina must have a game plan in place to remain compliant. Here are five ways to create, adjust and implement a HIPAA Compliance Plan.

  1. Designate a Privacy and Security Officer: This can be your IT Managed Services Provider (MSP) or an employee who ensures that your company remains compliant. This is a foundational building block for your compliance success. Hiring an individual or Managed IT Provider who has a track record of success is critical for HIPAA compliance.
  2. Perform a Risk Assessment: This is an overall review of both macro and micro levels to ensure your electronic protected health information (ePHI) is secure. This is a mandatory aspect of any healthcare organization’s compliance endeavors. Not only is it compulsory, but it’s the foundation for implementing safeguards to better protect your organization.
  3. Implement Policies and Procedures: You must provide your employees, and anyone who handles your sensitive information, a blueprint explaining the do’s and don’ts when it comes to HIPAA compliance. Your blueprint must continuously be updated and adjusted as you implement your compliance planning. For example, encryption is necessary to protect electronic protected health information (ePHI). This is an extra layer of security, comparable to an unbreakable password. Other standard procedures like locking a laptop when it’s not in use should be included in your policies and procedures. There are other examples where policies and procedures will help ensure HIPAA compliance.
  4. Train Your Employees: Security Awareness Training for your employees should be implemented to ensure everyone in the organization understands your policies and procedures. The best plan in the world can be ruined by an employee who doesn’t understand what they can or cannot, should or should not do. Take the time to train them on best practices for handling sensitive information and what constitutes a HIPAA violation. This is also a mandatory aspect of HIPAA compliance.
  5. Develop and Implement an Incident Response Plan: What if you’ve done everything that you should? Everything is in place; you’ve “checked all the boxes” but you still experience a breach? Report it! Have a plan in place to identify and respond to a threat. Once the source is determined, stopped, and documented, it must be reported. From this point on, you should have a prevention plan in place to ensure a breach doesn’t occur again.

What Should You Take From This?

Healthcare organizations are exposed to daily dangers and threats to their HIPAA compliance status. With the right plan in place, you have a chance to protect your business from security threats and violations.

Create a HIPAA Compliance Plan, and most importantly, train your employees about IT security best practices. Remember to always report incidents and regularly evaluate your organization’s HIPAA compliance regulations and practices to consistently improve your IT security posture.

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