5 Benefits of HIPAA Compliance

5 Benefits of HIPAA Compliance

  If you work in the healthcare industry, the words "HIPAA" and "compliance" are likely a part of your everyday vocabulary. You'll hear them thrown around in the context of patient paperwork, records, and more. As a healthcare professional, you likely understand that HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is all about protecting patient privacy. This government act was created in order to keep patient data safe. And, HIPAA was also created in order to ensure that businesses were protected against powerful lawsuits that can destroy their operations. It's a well-known way of protecting your healthcare organization as well as protecting your patients and employees. What you might not know is why exactly HIPAA compliance is so important and how adhering to this act can benefit your organization. In fact, there are many different benefits that you can receive from implementing HIPAA compliance training and regulations. Together, let's walk through a few benefits of HIPAA and take a look at five different ways that HIPAA compliance can seriously benefit your healthcare organization. Let's learn just how HIPAA can improve your organization and why implementing a strong HIPAA training program matters. Here are 5 benefits of HIPAA compliance to know about.

Understanding HIPAA Compliance

Before we dive into the many benefits of HIPAA, let's talk about just what does HIPAA compliance mean. In its most basic form, HIPAA is a government act that protects the private and personal information of patients. It provides protection for the rights of individuals as well as protection for employers and organizations. Another important thing to note about HIPAA is that it doesn't just cover in-person medical organizations. With the rise of telemedicine, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, new regulations have been set into place to help protect virtual healthcare providers. And, when it comes to telemedicine and HIPAA compliance, there's a whole new set of rules you'll need to be aware of. Outside of telemedicine, HIPAA comes into play in more than one type of healthcare organization. Typically, medical offices, dental clinics, therapy practices, and other health-related institutions should all be adhering to HIPAA compliance. However, business owners may also find themselves in need of HIPAA compliance training in order to protect their clients' information. This is especially true for companies that work with pharmaceuticals or healthcare-related equipment. Not complying with HIPAA regulations can lead to OCR audits, fines, or even lawsuits. Because of that, HIPAA can provide more than just simple benefits - it can provide business owners of all types with solid protection against serious loss.

1. Protection Against PHI Loss

One of the first ways that HIPAA benefits your company is by serving as a protection against PHI loss. PHI loss stands for private healthcare information loss and is actually a serious offense. When your healthcare organization suffers from PHI loss, you're putting your patients and their sensitive data at risk. You and members of your organization interact with personal, protected health information countless times every time you step into the office. Each time you handle PHI, you're faced with an opportunity to either expose or protect patients' information. With HIPAA, you are provided a guaranteed methodology for ensuring each member of your organization understands how to keep patients' PHI safe, secure, and private. In other words, HIPAA acts as physical protection for you and your employees against PHI related lawsuits as long as you adhere to its guidelines. Properly implementing HIPAA practices into your healthcare organization can make or break your team. When you choose to adhere to HIPAA guidelines, you know that you're properly protecting information and in turn protecting yourself from lawsuits.

2. Increased Awareness of Patient Well-being

As healthcare workers, we're all aware that our patient's wellbeing is our top priority. What we might not understand is how information and sensitive data is to a patient's wellbeing as well. Many healthcare workers, while they care deeply about patient's physical well-being, don't keep in mind how critical the safeguarding of their PHI is to their health as well. HIPAA Compliance offers an opportunity for staff members to be trained on how to properly handle patient information. It enables them to better serve their clients and have a stronger sense of each interaction they hold with a patient and its repercussions. And, with HIPAA training and understanding, you give your staff the tools they need to not only understand PHI's significance but to effectively safeguard it. One of the easiest ways to help increase awareness of patient well-being is to bring in a team that can provide HIPAA compliance services. They'll be able to properly train your team on HIPAA privacy laws and explain just how important these are to your patients.

3. A Development of Patient Safety Culture

The culture of your healthcare organization is critical to the health and well-being of your patients. In fact, it's critical to the success of your facility as a whole. When healthcare organizations, both private and public, adhere to and implement HIPAA programs, they are able to develop a much stronger patient-centric culture. How? By showing facility staff just how important protecting a patient's PHI is as part of their healing journey. For example, protecting a patient's PHI actually helps with fall-prevention, medication records and safety procedures, and infection control and reduction. When staff correctly follows HIPAA procedures, they help reduce the margin for error by another member of the team. And, in doing so, they help further protect patient's health and safety by ensuring that their personal and medical records are kept private and protected at all times. When you develop this kind of culture right off the bat, you set your facility up for success by guaranteeing that they have the tools and knowledge necessary to keep each patient that comes through your doors fully protected and safe.

4. A Greater Satisfaction Score from Families and Patients Alike

One of the major ways in which healthcare organizations, especially private ones, are able to stay afloat is through a high level of satisfaction from patients and their family members. When someone in the family is unhappy or when a patient himself is unhappy, the likelihood of them continuing to use your organization for healthcare support is very small. And, one of the fastest ways to lose patient trust or foster animosity towards your company is through security breaches. In typical healthcare security breaches, a patient or a family member complains. From there, the OCR conducts a HIPAA compliance audit to determine the validity of the complaint by the patient or the family member. When teams fully understand and are trained in HIPAA compliance, the likelihood of undergoing one of these types of investigations decreases dramatically. Protect your company as well as the PHI of your patients by implementing a strong HIPAA compliance program and adhering to it. The better your organization understands HIPAA regulations, the better off your healthcare team will be.

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 legally operate. What that means is that many companies choose to forgo HIPAA compliance procedures in order to 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. HIPPA compliance winds up being a low-cost way of securing your company's reputation and helping you to stand out from other healthcare organizations.

5. A Reduction in Liability for Your Organization and Executives

It's not just patients that are further protected with HIPAA. In fact, your organization and your company's executives also receive a higher level of protection by adhering to HIPAA laws. That's because HIPAA helps you to understand how to protect patient data and ensure the safety of their personal information. Another way HIPAA protects your staff is that HIPAA training is mandatory under government regulations. When you go through a HIPAA lawsuit or investigation, just by having done the correct training you're protecting yourself and your staff. If you were to be found responsible for not training your staff properly on HIPAA procedures, you could be faced with huge penalties and large fines. Your organization's executives could also wind up with personal liability lawsuits due to failure to train your employees. On the other hand, when you do go through HIPAA training and ensure that every member of your staff is trained, you reduce the room for the OCR to find errors on your part. You can also see lower fines and smaller penalties due to a HIPAA violation if you can prove that your company is otherwise adhering to HIPAA compliance requirements and training.

Increased Protection for Virtual Healthcare Providers

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 care that patient data and sensitive information is being properly protected. Healthcare companies that can prove HIPAA compliance and that adhere to policies and regulations outlined under the act are better protected against audits by the OCR. That's because they have proof that they're actively protecting patient PHI. It also helps drive profitability in the organization. When healthcare providers can prove that they offer HIPAA compliant services, it's easier for them to get patients and build a virtual network. HIPAA has become even more important for protecting virtual healthcare providers and ensuring their ongoing success and profitability because of this.

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 setup 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 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.

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