5 Benefits of HIPAA Compliance

In the healthcare industry, "HIPAA" and "compliance" are everyday terms linked to patient privacy and data protection. HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, safeguards patient data and shields businesses from legal consequences. Implementing HIPAA compliance training and regulations offers various benefits for healthcare organizations.

In this blog, we’ll explore five key advantages of HIPAA compliance and explain how HIPAA can improve your organization.

Understanding HIPAA Compliance

Let's start by understanding what HIPAA compliance means. HIPAA is a government act that safeguards patients' private information, ensuring their rights and protecting employers and organizations too. Notably, HIPAA doesn't solely apply to in-person medical establishments; it also encompasses virtual healthcare providers, especially with the rise of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, there are specific regulations for telemedicine and HIPAA compliance. Beyond telemedicine, HIPAA is relevant in various healthcare organizations, including medical offices, dental clinics, therapy practices, and health-related institutions. Additionally, business owners working with pharmaceuticals or healthcare-related equipment may also need HIPAA compliance training to protect clients' information. Non-compliance can lead to OCR audits, fines, and lawsuits, making HIPAA more than just beneficial – it offers vital protection against significant losses.

1. Protection Against PHI Loss

One of the primary ways HIPAA benefits your company is by serving as protection against PHI (Protected Health Information) loss, a serious offense. When your healthcare organization experiences PHI loss, you put your patients' sensitive data at risk. Your organization regularly deals with personal, protected health information, and each interaction presents an opportunity to either expose or protect patients' data. HIPAA provides a clear methodology for ensuring that all members of your organization understand how to keep patients' PHI safe, secure, and private. In essence, HIPAA acts as a shield, safeguarding you and your employees against PHI-related lawsuits, as long as you adhere to its guidelines. Properly implementing HIPAA practices is crucial for your team's success. Choosing to follow HIPAA guidelines means you're effectively protecting information and shielding yourself from potential lawsuits.

2. Increased Awareness of Patient Well-Being

As healthcare workers, we prioritize our patients' well-being, but we may overlook how crucial safeguarding sensitive data is for their health too. While caring deeply about patients' physical well-being, we must also recognize the significance of protecting their PHI. HIPAA compliance offers an opportunity for staff members to receive proper training on handling patient information, leading to better service and a deeper understanding of each interaction's repercussions. With HIPAA training, your staff gains the tools to comprehend the importance of PHI and effectively safeguard it. To increase awareness of patient well-being, consider enlisting a team that provides HIPAA compliance services. They can train your team on HIPAA privacy laws and emphasize their vital role in protecting your patients.

3. A Development of Patient Safety Culture

The culture of your healthcare organization is vital not only for the well-being of your patients but also for the overall success of your facility. By adhering to and implementing HIPAA programs, both private and public healthcare organizations can foster a strong patient-centric culture. This is achieved by emphasizing the significance of protecting a patient's PHI as an integral part of their healing journey. For instance, safeguarding PHI aids in fall prevention, medication safety, infection control, and reduction. When staff follows HIPAA procedures correctly, it reduces the chances of errors by other team members, ensuring patients' personal and medical records remain private and protected. Establishing this culture from the start equips your facility with the necessary tools and knowledge to ensure every patient who walks through your doors is fully protected and safe.

4. Greater Patient Satisfaction

One crucial way healthcare organizations, especially private ones, are able to stay afloat is by ensuring high patient and family member satisfaction. Unhappiness among patients or their families can lead to a loss of support for your organization's healthcare services. Security breaches can quickly erode patient trust and create animosity towards your company. In typical scenarios, a patient or family member may complain, leading to an OCR-conducted HIPAA compliance audit to assess the validity of the complaint. By comprehensively understanding and being trained in HIPAA compliance, the likelihood of such investigations decreases significantly. To protect both your company and your patients' PHI, it's essential to implement a robust HIPAA compliance program and strictly adhere to it. The better your organization grasps HIPAA regulations, the stronger your healthcare team will be.

5. Reduced Liability

HIPAA doesn't just protect patients; it also extends protection to your organization and company executives when you adhere to its laws. By understanding how to safeguard patient data and personal information, HIPAA safeguards your staff as well. Mandatory HIPAA training ensures that your organization is better protected in case of a lawsuit or investigation. Failure to provide proper HIPAA training could lead to significant penalties and personal liability lawsuits for executives. Conversely, thorough HIPAA training for all staff members reduces the likelihood of errors detected by the OCR. Demonstrating full adherence to HIPAA compliance requirements and training can lead to lower fines and penalties in case of a violation.

Impact of COVID-19 on HIPAA

To that end, one of the many changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about is the rise of telehealthcare providers. Because telemedicine is a relatively new form of healthcare, it requires additional attention to the proper protection of patient data and sensitive information. Healthcare companies that can demonstrate HIPAA compliance and adherence to its policies and regulations are better shielded against OCR audits. This is because they can provide evidence of actively protecting patient PHI, leading to improved profitability for the organization. Proving HIPAA-compliant services makes it easier for healthcare providers to attract patients and build a robust virtual network. Consequently, HIPAA has gained even more significance in safeguarding virtual healthcare providers' ongoing success and profitability.

Establish Healthcare Organization Differentiation

Let's face it; there are countless healthcare providers out there who would love to scoop up your patients and claim them for their own. And what many healthcare providers don't realize is that HIPAA compliance isn't mandatory. While HIPAA training is required by federal law, your organization doesn't need to be fully HIPAA-compliant in order to operate legally. What that means is that many companies choose to forgo HIPAA compliance procedures so they can save money and cut corners. When you do so, however, you not only open yourself up to the opportunity for hefty fines and lawsuits, but you also risk your reputation. Being able to tell your patients that you're a fully HIPAA-compliant organization can help set you apart from your competitors, build loyalty, and give you an edge over those who aren't compliant. HIPAA compliance winds up being a low-cost way of securing your company's reputation and helping you to stand out from other healthcare organizations.

How to Become a HIPAA-Compliant Organization

Now that you're aware of the benefits of HIPAA compliance, it's time to take a look at just how to become HIPAA compliant. First of all, the easiest way is to find a company that will support you in training your medical office or healthcare staff about HIPAA regulations. A trustworthy organization should teach you how to identify, sort, organize and keep track of any sensitive PHI in the office. It should also teach you how to limit access to PHI so that you have a smaller margin for error and a smaller opportunity for a breach of protocol. And to that end, it should teach you just what HIPAA protocol and policies include. You should also be set up with a strategy for how to combat any possible HIPAA complaints or accusations. You'll want to make sure that you know how to create and identify a paper trail of supporting documents in the event of a HIPAA audit. And lastly, your chosen organization should provide you with support that leaves you prepared for any future issues that may arise or cause issues with HIPAA compliance in the future. You should feel fully prepared for any HIPAA audit by the OCR at any time.

Transform Your Business With These 5 Benefits of HIPAA Compliance

Meeting HIPAA Compliance standards doesn't have to be difficult. In fact, with the right kind of support, it should be a simple process. If you're ready to start taking advantage of the top 5 benefits of HIPAA compliance, great choice. Let's transform your organization and get you set up and ready to better serve your patients and protect your staff. Get started changing your business through HIPAA compliance today.

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For 2021 Guidelines for Healthcare Workers, please click here. For 2021 Guidelines for Business Associates, please click here.