As a health care provider, administrator or other professional in an industry that stores and collects personal health data from clients, you’ve most likely heard of the U.S. Government’s HIPAA and HITECH Acts. While you understand the importance of compliance, like many regulations it can be difficult to understand the complexities of the laws and whether your current data storage and disposal policies meet the requirements. Vendors such as CyberCrunch Recycling can take the mystery out of these regulations and help you focus on your main business of providing excellent service and care for your patients or clients.
What Exactly are HIPAA and HITECH and Why Do They Matter to Your Organization
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act) are laws that govern how health and medical information is gathered, stored and disposed of at a federal level. In an increasingly web based and technologically advanced world these acts play an important part in ensuring that the sensitive, private medical history and other information of patients is safe and secure.
Does HIPAA and Hitech Apply to Your Organization
Whether you’re a business operating in the health and medical field, or operate in an entirely different line of business but happen to have medical or other health information regarding your clients, HIPAA and Hitech regulations still apply to you. Under the law, any organization that obtains personal health information (PHI) regarding individuals is subject to the requirements of the statute. Even business associates of medical providers such as accountants, lawyers and other service professionals may find themselves under the auspices of HIPAA and HITECH regulations, and facing similarly stiff penalties for not complying.
Compliant Methodology for Recycling and Data Destruction
To comply with HIPAA and HITECH, those in possession of sensitive PHI data must delete this information prior to reusing, recycling or otherwise disposing of computers or other electronic media on which the information is stored. This process is more complicated than it seems. Even when the information is seemingly gone from the desktop, file folders or other discoverable locations on your device, they may still be recoverable, placing you at risk of non-compliance. Companies that specialize in data and technology destruction hold a variety of certifications and have the knowledge needed to bridge the knowledge gap when it comes to developing the best methodology for compliance. Keeping on top of emerging trends in the data destruction field is a time-consuming process but also on that is critical to those impacted by the regulations.
What is a BAA and Why is it Important
As mentioned above, those in possession of PHI and their business associates are both subject to the requirements of HIPAA and HITECH. A Business Associate Agreement, or BAA, is therefore a critical component of any relationship with someone covered under the regulations. In fact, HIPAA requires that any contractors, vendors or other third parties who do business with those in possession with PHI sign a formal BAA in which the parties agree they will handle the information with sensitivity and in ways that comply with the law. Failing to comply and maintain a BAA with your vendors may place both you and them at risk of non-compliance and in danger of penalties.
What Is Cyber Insurance and Why Your Contractors Should Have It
Even the most compliant of organizations can still face potential data breaches and their corresponding fines for HIPAA non-compliance. We’re not just talking spare change here as civil penalties can add up to millions of dollars for single incidents, depending on the circumstances. Enter the world of cyber insurance, a type of policy that can protect you and your business in the event of breach. In this age of increasing cyber-attacks and hackers targeting sensitive data cyber insurance seems less optional and more of a necessary cost of doing business.
Costs of HIPAA Breaches
As mentioned above, the cost of HIPAA breaches can be devastating to a business not financially equipped to deal with the fines and other penalties. Having a cyber insurance policy can help ensure that even when a mistake or other breach occurs your business can recover. Even if your compliance program is top notch, it only takes a single mistyped or misdirected email to cause a violation. Computer viruses, Trojan horses and sophisticated spyware are all additional areas of liability for those who possess PHI. Breaches of confidentiality can cost a business big and insurance may be the only thing standing between instant ruin and business continuation.
While much of the information we’ve shared paints a grim picture in the era of HIPAA and HITECH, the good news is there are specialized companies such as CyberCrunch that can help your organization wade through all aspects of the compliance process. CyberCrunch maintains a host of HIPAA/HITECH compliant certifications and offers products and services designed to cover all aspects of your compliance program. At CyberCrunch we offer:
- Fully HIPAA/Hitech compliant certifications
- Cyber liability insurance
- Background checked and HIPAA trained staff
- R2 Certified recycling
At CyberCrunch we recognize that our customers are in the business of caring for their own customers and we offer the much-needed services that help take the guess work and hassle out of complying with HIPAA and HITECH regulations. Contact us today and find out how we can help relieve the burden of compliance and let you focus on your business and clients instead while we handle the rest.