What is healthcare compliance and why is it important?
Healthcare compliance refers to sticking to explicit rules, regulations, policies and guidelines relating to medical care. They allow healthcare services to be delivered securely and privately, as well as ethical and legal guidelines to be outlined for businesses to observe and comply with. Medical care manages a lot of private data, and thus, there is an abundance of rules you need to be acquainted with to remain compliant. As moral and lawful principles change and develop in intricacy, a larger number of organizations are deciding to execute different instruments and assets given by HIPAA frameworks, so they can keep conveying quality medical services administrations while ensuring clinical consistency.
But don’t worry, this isn’t as complicated as it sounds! Healthcare compliance can be made easy with the right resources, including medical compliance software that automates and regulates patient data to be in accordance with the most recent privacy laws. We know you want the best for your patients, and so we’re here to help you consolidate your understanding of how to avoid medical compliance mistakes, and improve your practice by up to 90%.
6 most common compliance mistakes and how to avoid them
It’s natural to make mistakes, especially when it comes to something as complicated as healthcare. However, continually making mistakes without correcting them can lead to costly consequences. To help you avoid these pitfalls, we have compiled some of the top 6 most common mistakes so you know what to look out for when it comes to clinical documentation compliance.
- Unrestricted access - Patient data deals with highly sensitive information that should only be accessible by the patient, and authorized users. If access is not restricted, this can result in huge violations of HIPAA privacy laws, as well as damages to your reputation. Patients could also lose trust in your service if it is found to be fraudulent, and financial penalties may incur.
- Lack of risk assessments - You must conduct risk assessments to evaluate your vulnerabilities, so you can better safeguard patient medical and financial information. Failing to do so leaves the door wide open for hackers to access information, posing a huge risk.
- Insecure provider use - While many software platforms claim to be 100% HIPAA compliant, the truth is, many don’t actually assess patient needs. They do not understand what it means to have a security system that protects against hacks and data leakages, and often fail to audit. You need to make sure your provider has outlined compliance practices that they abide by.
- Lack of training - All healthcare staff need to be educated on how to manage sensitive patient information, as well as how to effectively develop privacy and security standards. Many errors are human errors, and continuous training should be conducted in order to minimize risk.
- Non-Attendance - All patient information should be monitored at all times, to minimize the risk of theft, as well as the viewing of information by unauthorized staff.
- Releasing information without warning - You must exercise caution about who you share data to, which includes patient information release.
- Disclosure concerns - Patients must be able to request and have access to a copy of their medical records, and only authorized individuals must obtain copies of these.
What happens in the event of a HIPAA violation?
Violating HIPAA guidelines isn’t a black and white thing, and in fact, violating one guideline doesn’t deem your practice invaluable or not reputable. Even high-performing and highly recognized businesses in the health sector can violate HIPAA guidelines. However, there are some penalties that can occur depending on the severity of your mistakes. These include:
- The first tier - This is the lowest fine and usually starts at around $100, depending on the number of patients involved. There is also usually no grounds for why the patient could have been aware of the violation committed.
- The second tier - Starting at around $1000, which also depends on the number of patients, these fines are usually when employees knew their actions violated HIPAA guidelines. However, they commonly don’t act with gross negligence, which prevents these fines from reaching higher costs.
- The third tier - At $10,000 per violation, the employee knowingly committed a HIPAA violation, yet also made a correction within 30 days. This correction is contingent on time and needs to be prompt in recognition of their error.
- The fourth tier - Reaping the most serious repercussions, these fines begin at $50,000 per violation, and could cost your business millions of dollars. This is when the employee acted with purposeful negligence and also failed to correct the violation, which can cause immense financial stress and a damaged reputation.
Tips to protect your healthcare staff from violating HIPAA rules
If these penalties scare you, that’s okay! Implementing certain strategies that promote the security and privacy of patient data can help you avoid costly mistakes, and aid in delivering high-quality healthcare solutions to your patients. You should consider an iterative training and education system for your healthcare staff, to ensure that everyone is up to speed on privacy laws, and how to handle sensitive patient information. With the rapid development of technology, there are always new ways that data can be breached, and so continuously training staff on HIPAA rules can prove vastly beneficial. If eligible, you could invest in training programs that offer exams, so staff can be HIPAA certified. You should also ensure that you have the right security protocol in place, such as anti-virus software, firewalls, and encrypted servers. This allows information to be more securely stored and organized, so patients can have easy authorized access to their financial and medical data, without having to worry about hackers compromising their information. Having a single platform that stores your data allows you to be HIPAA compliant, as well as providing a convenient service to increase patient satisfaction.
Healthcare compliance is a delicate issue, but one that is of utmost importance when it comes to providing healthcare for your patients. Medical compliance ensures that patient information is prioritized and stored in a secure manner. All sensitive medical and personal information, in addition to finances, can be regularly monitored and kept private, with only authorized users having access to it. Despite its nuances, maintaining secure HIPAA-compliant systems doesn’t need to be complicated, and we hope you come away from this with a more consolidated understanding.
One app for healthcare businesses and their clients: Try Carepatron for free today!