The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was enacted to establish standards at the national level for security, confidentiality, and integrity of health information personal to individuals. To prevent any possible violations, it’s crucial to conduct HIPAA audit controls regularly if you’re in the healthcare field. Any violation of this Act could result in significant penalties for a violation that range between $100 and $1.5 million.
Healthcare professionals can also risk being penalized or losing their licenses. To reduce the possibility of sanctions and fines for medical practice, they must ensure that their policy and procedure are updated regularly and that employees are provided with ongoing compliance training. Here are a few of the most frequent HIPAA privacy violations and the measures that can be implemented to protect patients’ health information.
What is a HIPAA Violation?
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability, also known as HIPAA violations, occur whenever the access, purchase, or use and disclosure of Protected Health Information (PHI) is made in a manner that poses a substantial personal risk to the patient. To know more about HIPPA, keep visiting Defensorum.
The regulations affect all those who work with PHI. That encompasses.
- Health insurance plans
- Health Clearinghouses for Health
- Health care providers who send claims electronically
- Medicare prescription drug card sponsors
- Associates of business (individual or an entity who performs any task that requires PHI)
4 HIPAA Violations
1. Getting Hacked OR Phished
It’s not a common expectation to be a victim of hacking. There are security breaches and hacking-related incidents in the news, but you do not think someone will pursue you specifically.
Hacking is, however, an extremely real threat. In 2018, more than 25 hacking cases were examined to determine HIPAA violations. You’re probably thinking, “what can hackers do with PHIs, anyway?” There are two kinds of possible hacks.
They are selling information to a third-party entity that might gain from the data.
The hackers use ransomware. In other words, they have access to the information and threaten to erase everything until they receive a payment. In 2016 a hospital in LA had to pay the hackers $17,000 to gain access to their computer systems.
So, how can you stop this from occurring to you? There are many ways to guard yourself against hackers and phishers.
- Make sure that all anti-virus software is up-to-date
- Utilize encryption (as we’ve previously mentioned)
- Always changing passwords on all your devices
- Access to data and devices dependent on the status of employees
2. Failure to perform and act upon a risk analysis
Many companies fail to conduct an extensive, comprehensive, enterprise-wide risk analysis. This means they cannot identify weaknesses in their security or the confidentiality process. Some healthcare facilities analyze risk; however, they fail to take action on the information gleaned from the audit or wait to address urgent issues until it’s too late.
A comprehensive risk analysis of the organization’s risk profile may uncover various weaknesses in security measures, including vulnerability to networks, insecure authenticating protocols, or the absence of effective training. (For instance, a study revealed that 36 percent of medical professionals do not have a thorough understanding of the HIPAA guidelines.)
There are severe penalties due to failure to carry out or follow up on an organization-wide risk analysis. To avoid fines and any credibility loss, it is recommended to either conduct an internal risk assessment as quickly as you can or hire an accredited third-party auditor to complete the task on your behalf. After the audit results are out, prioritize actions in the order in which they are important. Although these steps require an initial investment in time and money, they can help prevent several issues in the future.
3. Sharing Information
Any confidential information, including PHI, must be disclosed based on need. While discussing case cases among colleagues might appear harmless, this could lead to lawsuits or leaks.
A popular hacking technique is to use of social engineering. Hackers try to get employees to reveal details instead of directly attacking computers. This could be data used to gain access to computers or even be able to access PHI.
To prevent this from happening, make sure all important information is kept in a secure environment and only with authorized personnel. Sharing patient information with family members could cause a HIPAA violation.
4. Improper disposal of PHI
Per HIPAA rules, electronic and physical PHI must be properly destroyed after their retention period has elapsed. For hard copies, this usually involves shredding or pulverizing. For ePHI, the disposal process could include degaussing and secure wiping or the destruction of the device portable where it is stored. ePHI will be kept.
Similar to all the HIPAA violations previously mentioned, incorrect or inadequate disposal of PHI can result in unintentional disclosures and hefty financial penalties. You can minimize the risk of data breaches resulting from incorrect PHI disposal by implementing proper and thorough disposal methods for every form of PHI that has expired stored in your database.
How to Avoid HIPAA Violations
The main reason behind each HIPAA violation we’ve mentioned is the absence of employee training. Employees who know how regulations work (and how to comply) are much more likely to avoid making any of the errors we’ve discussed so far.
- Do not leave devices in unsecured locations.
- Sharing personal information with people who are not authorized
- Disposing of in a way that is not appropriate for PHI documents
- Accessing PHI from unsecured sources
It’s not just a recommendation; all staff employees must be educated about HIPAA compliance standards. The law states that this must be done in three instances – when an employee is newly hired, changes to rules, and periodically to ensure everyone is aware.
If you want to get HIPPA training, visit Defensorumand read everything about it.
The types of violations mentioned above are just a small sample of how HIPAA regulations could be violated. One method to reduce the threat of HIPAA breaches is to collaborate with a reliable IT service provider who can assist you in managing the security of your data and remain HIPAA-compliant. To know more about HIPPA violations visit Defensorum.