How To Do A HIPAA Risk Assessment – Part 1

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is performing more and more HIPAA audits. How can you avoid getting hit with severe penalties from the government? The best way is to perform a complete HIPAA Risk Assessment, and to follow through with training and implementation.

Find out how to get compliant, and stay compliant in this multi-part series.

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First, what is a HIPAA Risk Assessment?

A HIPAA Risk Assessment is an analysis of potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, availability and integrity of all protected health information (PHI) that the healthcare provider creates, receives, maintains, or transmits. It is the first step in getting compliant with the HIPAA Security Rule. Complete assessments look at both non-electronic PHI, and electronic protected health information (e-PHI).

Once the security risks are identified, a plan must be developed to manage and mitigate the risks. The plan, in the form of policies and procedures, must be carried out by the provider to satisfy OCR requirements.

Many healthcare providers have HIPAA policies and procedures in place, but don’t always follow them. Other providers have outdated policies and procedures in place. These policies and procedures need to be updated and implemented to avoid steep penalties and costly breaches.

Remember, if an investigator comes to your practice, they will look not only at your policies and procedures, but also at your documentation showing compliance with your policies and procedures. You will be held responsible for your HIPAA policies, and if the policies are out of date or not followed, penalties will be assessed.

When was the last time you had HIPAA training? Is your staff prepared for an investigation?

HIPAA training should take place at least annually. Any and all updates require new training, and new staff must be trained upon hiring.

While a complete HIPAA Risk Assessment may sound burdensome, implementation can save your practice money. OCR fines can be costly, and breaches even more so. Make sure your practice is up to date, and ready for an investigation, before it’s too late.

We help our clients plan and conduct audits, and we can help you create and implement a HIPAA compliance plan. Contact us today!

Come back next week for Part 2 of this series.

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P.S. If you or your patients are interested in consumer healthcare issues, check out myhealthspin.com.

 

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