5 Frequently Asked Questions About HIPPA

2 months ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

Any answering service for doctors has to take HIPPA very seriously. It’s something which everyone in the healthcare profession has to know. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) made twenty-one this year. However, there are still lots of misconceptions regarding its role in the healthcare industry.  The HIPPA strives at protecting private health information and gives the ability to transfer insurance between employers. That’s just the tip of the iceberg! Given are 5 frequently asked questions about HIPPA.

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What does HIPPA do?

The regulation has primary functions of accountability and portability. Accountability regulations seek to protect the privacy and security of patients’ health information. Portability aims at protecting workers plus their families from losing their health insurance coverage on switching jobs or getting laid off. 

What information does HIPPA protect?

According to HIPPA’s Privacy Rule, private health information (PHI) is information used to identify any particular individual. The Security Rule in 2005 came up with guidelines regarding physical, technical and administrative aspects of handling electronic PHI. In 2016, a HIPPA compliance survey discovered only about 70 percent of healthcare organizations planning to become HIPPA compliant. 

How HIPPA protects electronic PHI?

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act in 2009 created incentives for medical services to abandon paper filing for electronic records. A best medical answering service in your area can help you meet this requirement. The rule further requires reporting any data breaches exceeding 500 people. Four years later, it became legal for all healthcare providers to keep PHI indefinitely by the OMNIBUS regulation.  It also requires medical services to have their electronic PHI encrypted.

Who has the responsibility to oversee HIPPA?

It’s the role of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to enforce HIPPA. The Enforcement Rule in 2006 which gave HHS the power to investigate any complaints relating to the Privacy and Security Rules. It also gave it the mandate to levy fines on services not complying with HIPPA regulations.  In 2011, HHS started to conduct compliance audits as well. However, a survey last year found out that only about 40 percent of healthcare organizations were aware of ongoing HIPPA compliance audits. 

What is the level of compliance?

It’s not that simple to give the number of organizations complying with HIPPA guidelines. Though the federal government has been conducting audits for the last 6 years, no findings have been revealed to the public. Reports indicate that more organizations are becoming compliant though there’s a decrease in some two key areas. The surveyed organizations offer limited HIPPA compliance training and employ less security and privacy officers. There’s also less compliance in electronic data. About 22 percent of organizations survey had not yet started applying electronic devices with PHI. 

Bottom line

For any medical service looking to the future, there is a need for security when exchanging electronic information. Consider hiring a reputable phone answering service to meet your HIPAA standards when getting in touch with your clients.

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