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What Is HIPAA Compliance?

“What is HIPAA compliance?” is one of the most often asked inquiries we receive. As a result, it is critical to define compliance.

HIPAA Compliance Defined

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, is a set of regulations that govern the proper use and disclosure of protected health information (PHI). The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulates HIPAA compliance, which is enforced by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). HIPAA requires covered entities (CEs) and business associates (BAs) to protect the privacy and security of PHI by implementing administrative, physical, and technical safeguards.

The Privacy Rule is a component of HIPAA that protects the confidentiality of an individual’s health information. It also gives individuals certain rights regarding their health information such as the right to access, amend, and request a copy of their health information. The Security Rule is another component of HIPAA that sets national standards for the protection of PHI in electronic form. It requires certain administrative, physical, and technical safeguards such as encryption and authentication processes.

In order to be compliant with HIPAA regulations, CEs and BAs must have a comprehensive compliance program in place. This program should include policies and procedures, ongoing staff training and education, systems for monitoring compliance with the rules, and appropriate sanctions for noncompliance. Covered entities and business associates must also comply with additional federal and state laws that may be applicable in their particular situations.

The OCR’s duty in ensuring medical HIPAA compliance is to provide routine guidance on new concerns affecting health care and to investigate common HIPAA violations.

HIPAA compliance is a living culture that healthcare businesses must integrate into their business in order to preserve the privacy, security, and integrity of protected health information through a system of interlocking regulatory standards.

What exactly is Protected Health Information (PHI)?

PHI is any demographic information that can be used to identify a patient or client of a HIPAA-compliant institution. Names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, medical data, financial information, and full facial pictures are all examples of PHI.

PHI transferred, stored, or accessed electronically is likewise subject to HIPAA regulations and is referred to as electronically protected health information, or ePHI. The HIPAA Security Rule governs electronically protected health information (ePHI), which was added to the HIPAA regulations to accommodate developments in medical technology.