Making computer networks safe is the core part of the HIPAA plan to totally transform the national patent health data into an electronic image, which can be then effortlessly shared by health care providers, insurance providers and administrators. Because of this, the health care agencies can handle the record keeping process more proficiently and quickly and render efficient service to the patients. As the current computer system is vulnerable to hacking and virus attacks, the vital records are thus at a risk of getting stolen or being wiped out. To safeguard the patient health data, there are network security regulations, which should be adhered, to enable the establishment to attain HIPAA Compliance.
The 2 important parts of HIPAA that pertains to computer network security are:
- Administrative Safeguards:
To attain HIPAA compliance the provider must recognize, protect and intimate any malevolent software program in the system. The compromised emails are carriers of worms, virus and Trojans, and there has to be a safeguard measure to stop the unwanted breach. For managing the computer systems network efficiently, it is important to keep a watch by installing specialized security measures as noted below:
Gateway and virus blocking mechanism should be in place.
The safeguard system should be able to carry out, deep packet penetration, inspect and provision for relevant web filtering mechanisms to the network. Signature systems that refresh at every half hour should be used as they are the premier defense shields against rapidly moving worms.
For a computer network to be HIPAA compliant, it is essential for the organization to draft a security system, which gives authority to the key people or software systems to access the confidential health information.
Appropriate encryption mechanisms should be in place to code the confidential health information when in transit to stop unauthorized access or intercept. The sending of information must be encrypted in a high security encryption and must be received by authorized users who must use the decryption code to decrypt the message.
Ultimately, it is necessary for all parties concerned in the healthcare system, like health service providers, insurance providers, transcription service providers, labs, internet service providers, hospitals and billing services to cement a relation of trust to ensure confidentiality of patient information shared between them. This can be achieved through a linkage of computers that stick to HIPAA rules and regulations to achieve a safe and protected transmission, of private health information on a public platform.
In today’s modern, busy and high tech world, most of the personal business of people is conducted online. This includes accessing information regarding private health records etc. Healthcare providers have no choice but to grant access to this private health information or face losing their customers.
HIPAA also commonly known as The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, requires employment of stringent measures by the health care providers, to assure the patient that his/her personal health records are protected from the unauthorized access over the internet.
HIPAA when enacted required health-providing entities to assure the confidentiality of patient information in the following ways:
- Responsibility for security was to be assigned to a person or organization.
- Assessment of risks to find out any security or privacy threats to medical information.
- Establishment of a program to address physical, personnel and technical security controls.
- Certification of effectiveness of the employed security controls.
- Creating procedures, guidelines and policies to use computing devices, and ensuring that the suitable mechanisms are there to allow or ban access to an individual’s status.
- Implementation of controls on access which include user-based access, encryption, role-based access, context-based access and auditing control mechanisms, authentication of data, and authentication of entity.
Security is the key
HIPAA provides for both civil and criminal action against the violations and violators, as data access and security is top priority for a healthcare firm. To assure HIPAA compliance, security features that should be included in online documents are:
- Secure web server – A server should be running secure socket layers. It is the bare minimum required.
- Encrypted database – All data has to be encrypted. Modern Encryption Software is available that encrypts all the data sent between two computer and any device on the internet.
- Session timeout – This assures that private data is not left unattended and is only viewed by unauthorized personnel.
- Server monitoring – monitoring of the web server is required to detect break-in attempts and hacking attempts.
- Secure access control – Apart from user id and password, for additional security, strong passwords and smart cards should be used.
- Regular security audits – all security precautions need to be checked for their state of readines and proper working. For this regular audits should be carried out.
- Personnel – Qualified personnel familiar with HIPPA requirements should be employees for system maintenance.
In the coming years, millions and millions of patients’ data will be compiled into Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. For this, the federal government has created a level of confidentiality for Protected Healthcare Information (PHI) and is imposing fines for breaches of HIPAA. HITECH or Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 allocated about $19 billion dollars to assist physicians and health care centers to accept this transition. $17 billion would be allocated to healthcare centers and physicians who utilize this system.
However, transfer of personal and private data from paper documents that utilizes direct faxes to an electronic process that relies on unsecure email will naturally raise security concerns. Data in transportation via non-secure channels can be breached with relative ease and could be used with a malicious intent. Patients are predictably worried that best practices might not be observed to safeguard their confidential data.
To be abreast of these updates in Health Information Technology (HIT), health centers and physicians are required to find and utilize safe and secure computers and email programs that are compliant with both HITECH and HIPAA standards. Just as different treatments are available for different ailments, a wide range of options exists regarding security and email applications. It can be confusing for health centers and doctors to go through such vast options and find the one that is suited to their needs and budgets.
Some organizations have implemented an economical system that can be scaled to suit your requirements. Whether it is a tiny clinic or a large healthcare center, systems can be tailored to meet the demands of their patients. There are some applications which obliterate the need for on-site IT resources or maintenance and work on most known web browser or merge with outlook email accounts too.
HITECH medical data software is anticipated to be completely implemented by 2014. With this, the US will move a step closer to the world standard of health care data storage. It will be on the same level as other first-world countries who have their data securely stored a conveniently used.
If you are a covered entity under HIPAA, then you must also make sure that your email system has the required safeguards and encryptions to ensure safe transfer of medical data.
HIPAA was introduced in 1996 by Congress with the aim to ensure national standards for privacy and to safe guard personal health data. On April 14, 2003, the US Department of Health and Human Services passed The Privacy Rule.
HIPAA compliance needs specific attention and effort, if any failure to adhere involves high risk of reputation damage, fines starting from $100 to $250,000 and imprisonment varying from 1 year to 10 years. Different various HIPAA management efforts are required for a practice with various different systems for patient timetable, electronic and medical files and billing. This article shows an honest way to HIPAA management adherence and is a summary of main important HIPAA terminology, principles, and requisites to assist the practitioner to adhere to HIPAA compliance through medical billing and software retailers.
The last 10 years of the 19th century saw a rapid increase of digital technology in health care, with lesser expenditure and much better service quality, also resulted in new and higher risks for accidental revelation of private health information.
Protected Health Information (PHI)
The main requirement of HIPAA is PHI, which covers any aspect that can be required to identify a person and any information or data exchanged or disclosed to other health care providers in any medium viz. digital, verbal, recorded, faxed, printed or written).
Information that is required to recognize a person includes:
- Health plan numbers
- Zip code not less than 3 digits, telephone and fax numbers, email
- License numbers
- Social security numbers
- Dates (excluding year)
- Medical record numbers
Details shared with other healthcare firms or clearinghouses are:
- Data about treatment and billing
- Notes made by nurses and physicians
HIPAA aims to ensure smooth running of PHI for healthcare operations with the patient’s approval; however, bans unauthorized PHI for any other reasons. Healthcare procedure involves payment, competence review training, treatment, care quality assessment, accreditation, auditing, legal procedures and insurance rating,
HIPAA encourages unbiased information practices and sets guidelines for those who have access to PHI to protect it.
Unbiased information practices means that a person should be permitted to
- Access to PHI,
- Rectifying mistakes and completeness,
- Know who else are using PHI.
Protecting PHI means that the subject who possess PHI should
- be responsible for self use and disclosure
- have a legal source to counter violations
HIPAA implementation is based on presumptions pertaining to PHI disclosure threat model. The procedure involves preventive as well as retroactive measures and includes process, technology, and personnel aspects.
The aim of HIPAA implementation procedure is guided by the threat model. It involves presumptions about
- Nature of threat whether an accidental revelation by an insider or access for profit
- Source of threat by an outsider or insider
- Means of likely threat by break in, trespassing, computer hack or virus
- Specific type of record at risk viz. patient identification, financials, medical, and
- Scale to keep track of the number of patients data threatened.
HIPAA procedure has to encompass explicitly stated policy, educational materials and events, transparent reinforcement methods, a timetable for examining of and methods for ongoing transparency with respect to HIPAA compliance. Documented policy usually comprises of statement of minimum privilege record access to finish the work, explanation of PHI and event assessing and reporting processes. Educational materials could comprise of case studies, control questions, and a time table of review meetings for people.
Technical Essentials for HIPAA Compliance
Technical essentials of HIPAA progresses go from logical data to network:
- To ensure physical data center safety, the manager must
- Ensure data center is under lock and key
- Maintain access list
- The activities inside and outside the building have to be monitored with closed circuit TV cameras.
- Protect backup data
- Protect data center with onsite security
- Test recovery process
- · To ensure safeguarding the network, the data center should add facilities for
- Network access monitoring and report auditing
- Secure networking which only includes firewall protection and encrypted data transfer.
- To ensure data security, the manager should have
- Role Based Access Control
- Individual authentication
- Audit trails
- Data discipline
HIPAA compliance needs specialized practice management attention. A practice with a diverse a number of systems for billing, scheduling and electronic medical records needs more than one different HIPAA management efforts. An integrated system makes the process of HIPAA implementation much simpler. By choosing a good HIPAA compliant provider of ASP or SaaS basis, as an outsourcing partner, HIPAA management expenses can be eliminated.
HIPAA Safety Rule creates a system for Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs) that collects and analyzes data received from medical care providers and checks any medical errors in them. This is done to increase patient safety and quality health care in US. HIPAA safety rule provides patient safety work product (PSWP) to ensure fair usage of the information.
PSWP is the data (1) developed or accumulated by health care providers to send to a PSO that has been enlisted for Healthcare Research and Quality and is recorded in the patient safety evaluation system of the health care provider; (2) created by a PSO to conduct activities relating to patient safety; or (3) that identifies deliberations and the fact of a safety evaluation system for patients.
PSWP is a completely confidential and should be disclosed in only a handful of situations. This product should be held as confidential protected, no matter who is holding it.
If a person things that a covered entity under HIPAA or an individual has violated the safety and privacy rules and have disclosed PSWP, he or she can file an HIPAA complaint. This complaint can be filed with OCR who is responsible to investigate any filed HIPAA complaints and enforce all provisions of privacy and safety rule.
The OCR will investigate and provide all possible technical assistant to the complainant and help them get and informal resolution by persuading the violators to comply with the norms voluntarily. If OCR can’t get an informal resolution, the Secretary can ask the violator to pay a fine of up to $11,000 for every unlawful disclosure.
Following requirements should be fulfilled, in order to file an HIPAA complaint:
- It should be in writing and can be sent through email, mail or fax.
- The person who is the subject of complaint should be named in the complaint and all the alleged violations of HIPAA done should be described thoroughly.
- The complaints should filed in 6 months or 180 days following the realization of the violation. But in case there is a good reason, OCR can extend this time limit.
Anyone can file an HIPAA complaint as soon as he realizes that his or her privacy has been violated by any covered entity.
In 1996, the Congress of the United States of America passed the health insurance portability and accountability act, which is very commonly known as HIPAA. The main purpose behind the enforcement of this law was to provide protection for the health information of every person. At the same time, provisions have been made for the right kind of trading of the right kind of information between covered entities under this act which include pharmacies, doctors, hospitals and many more. Companies and professionals who are involved in the field of health care are now being provided with access to medical software, which will comply with all the rules, which come under HIPAA.
The department of Health and Human Services in the United States has created a lot of standards to protect the health information of every individual and these are also known as the privacy rules, which come under HIPAA. This is the first time that uniform standards have been created and enforced all over the United States in order to protect the privacy of the medical information of the patient. The privacy rule has been completely written making use of legal terminology and it is very difficult for a layman to understand. All companies as well as professionals who are involved in the field of health care should be completely aware of all the rules and regulations which come under HIPAA.
The medical software which has been created in compliance with HIPAA has been designed in such a manner that it will help in protecting the privacy of the patient information and it will also allow the right people to gain access to that information when it is meant for the medical benefit of the patient. This medical software will change the way in which information management takes place. Problems in areas like coding, security of the information technology systems, changes in the personal records of the patient will also be taken care of with the help of this software. The process of reimbursement through medical insurance will also be made much more simpler through this software and all the issues which are related to the management of the health care of the patient will also be dealt with using this HIPAA compliant medical software.
Most of the office management systems are changing over from a paper based system to a computer managed office system. It is always better for all medical professionals to make use of medical software which has been created in compliance with HIPAA in order to ensure that they can easily transition from a paper based system to a computer based digital system. The usage of medical software, which has been created in compliance with HIPAA, will ensure that you abide by all the rules and regulations, which come under HIPAA. There are a large number of rules and regulations which come under HIPAA and it is also very essential to make sure that your medical software has always been updated on a regular basis so that you will continue to follow all the rules and regulations which come under HIPAA.
HIPAA compliance mainly means following all the rules and regulations, which have been prescribed under the health insurance portability and accountability act of 1996. This act has been mainly enforced on all entities, which are involved in the business of providing health care services to people. HIPAA, which was enforced in 1996, also takes acre of e-health deals, which involve entities like health care providers, plans, employers, health care agents and other representatives who are involved in any kind of electronic transactions in the field of health care. The actual content of all the rules and regulations, which come under HIPAA, can be found on many different websites on the Internet and they can be downloaded so that they can be referred to any time. These rules, which come under HIPAA, should definitely be complied with since they have set some uniform standards and benchmarks for all kinds of electronic health care deals.
All kinds of electronic transactions or e-deals which come under HIPAA should make sure that all the rules and regulations which come under HIPAA are followed without any mistake. All kinds of payments, remittance, claims, premiums, qualifications for any kind of eligibility and any other matter, which is related to health care coverage, will come under the purview of the health insurance portability and accountability act. Any kind of health care related activity, which is being performed through the electronic media, should comply with all the relevant rules and regulations as well as standards, which have been prescribed under HIPAA.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act will also provide all the required kind of protection against any kind of fraud, which is likely to take place. People who are involved in deals with regard to claims as well as payment of premiums on health insurance plans should make sure that the enrollment procedure has been done while complying with all the rules and regulations which come under HIPAA. This will also help in providing the right kind of protection for people especially those who are easily liable to become victims of some kind of cheating and fraudulent scams.
People who are keen on getting all the required information inside their inbox should also take note that there will be a disclaimer, which is present in the latter, half of the mail. All e-mails, which have any kind of content, which is related to health, should contain this disclaimer, as this is a legal requirement. It is also an essential pre-requisite that there should be proper identification codes especially in the area of diagnostics as well as any other kind of clinical procedures where any deals will have to be completed in an electronic format. All these small details form an essential part of all the rules and regulations, which come under the health insurance portability and accountability, act of 1996, which is otherwise known as HIPAA in common terms. This will help in preventing any kind of cheating as well as fraudulent scams and also help in providing better quality of health care services to people.
All covered entities, which come under HIPAA, should conduct a regular security check in order to ensure that all kinds of security measures have been adopted and that all the rules and regulations, which come under HIPAA, are being complied with. The frequency of the evaluation will be dependent on the frequency of the changes, which are taking place in the security environment. When some kind of new technology has been incorporated or when some kind of new security solutions have been discovered, a proper examination of the existing security systems will have to be conducted. HIPAA also states that security is not some kind of product, which can be provided by the right person, but this is an ongoing continuous process, which needs to be maintained. There are many companies, which provide a wide variety of solutions in order to make sure that the security requirements for all these process related entities are being fulfilled in the right manner.
The meaning as well as importance of the word “process” should be properly understood in terms of all HIPAA rules and regulations since this mainly refers to the security processes, which have been incorporated in any organization. A security checkup or a security audit of all the online information systems, which are being used in the office of the covered entity, will be properly measured in a technical manner. These audits of the security process will help in properly defining the method in which the right kind of security measures should be adopted as well as incorporated in the everyday work life of any employee who is a part of the organization. A proper assessment should be taken of all the shortcomings and loopholes, which exist in the current security setup, and the required solutions should be prepared in order to ensure that all the rules and regulations, which come under HIPAA, have been complied with in the right manner.
When every organization is taking stock of all the networks, which exist within them, they should gain a proper understanding of all the digital components, which make a part of this network. A proper identification as well as understanding of all the assets is one of the first steps which needs to be followed as a part of this process of finding out the loopholes and fixing them. Though this is one of the initial stages, the discovery stage will help in gaining a proper understanding of all the components and devices, which are a part of the network. The Retina will be able to quickly create a map of all the elements and the components, which make up a network.
This is one of the most important phases of the entire security audit process since the entire system will have to be checked for all kinds of vulnerabilities and loopholes. Retina has the superior capacity to identify all the loopholes and vulnerabilities, which exist within the system and this can also function with a lot of speed as well as accuracy.