Be Prepared for HIPAA Changes
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which was enacted in 1996 under the Clinton Administration, was put in place to protect individuals and their families. Title I of HIPAA regulates group health plans and certain individual plans. Title II of HIPAA includes provisions which outline the standards in which private health information is handled by those who use it. There are also Titles III through IV that cover various tax provisions and group health insurance requirements. In short, HIPAA is complicated and there is much more to it than first meets the eye. The number of new rules that businesses were expected to follow when the act went into effect was overwhelming to say the least.
There are still sweeping changes on the way to expand the reach of HIPAA policies. If all the details and provisions of HIPAA weren’t enough for businesses to keep track of, the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act added more to the list. Congress passed the HITECH Act as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, more commonly known as the “Stimulus Bill.” The new HITECH provisions expand HIPAA to include rules on violation enforcement, breach notifications, health records access, business associates, and annual assessments. In addition, HITECH requires all healthcare organizations, regardless of size, to be audited and reported on regularly to make sure that they have measures in place to comply with HIPAA standards.
All this change impacts the exchange of sensitive client data tremendously. It won’t be long before all medical data goes from being stored in file folders to being stored completely digitally. This could potentially leave information open to unwanted data disclosure and as a target to hackers if it is not handled with proper safeguards. The good news going forward is that technology has advanced enough to protect private health information to meet these new standards, and it will be much easier than the days of paper pushing.
The best way to protect and handle sensitive health information is to use an IT company that knows HIPPA and the HITECH Act inside and out, and that specializes in protecting the transfer of this data. Every company that deals with private health information, whether it be a medical practice or insurance company, needs to be proactive so that their clients’ information is safe, and so that the transition from medical records stored on paper to being stored digitally goes as smoothly as possible. CTG Technolgies can help establish solutions that comply with HIPPA and HITECH while maintaining network infrastructure, security, and backup solutions.