Coordinated care is primarily concerned with the organization of patient care activities and sharing of patient information with all concerned entities, such as physicians, primary caregivers, and insurance providers. Its underlying objective is to see to it that the patient receives safer and more effective healthcare.
If you’re an individual or company involved with coordinated care, it’s crucial that you maintain the privacy of your patients’ personal information at all times to avoid the risk of falling on the wrong side of the law.
What Is HIPAA?
In America, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was formulated to safeguard the Protected Health Information (PHI) of its citizens. Failure to abide by the act’s governing rules might result in serious repercussions, such as facing a jail term, losing your license, paying hefty fines, or tarnishing your reputation through the public list of shame.
It’s, therefore, of utmost importance that you understand HIPAA compliance policies. And, how exactly would you make your coordinated care services conform with HIPAA regulations? Read on to find out some tips you could put to use.
- Familiarize Yourself With HIPAA Rules
You can’t know what to do, or what not to do in this case, if you aren’t familiar with the regulations. It’s, therefore, important that you get yourself acquainted with HIPAA rules. These are mainly the privacy, security, omnibus, and HITECH rules.
For diligence, you’re required to take an annual HIPAA course from an accredited institution. The course will offer you an in-depth understanding of HIPAA compliance policies. You’ll gain certified knowledge that’ll allow you or your institution to remain in conformity with HIPAA guidelines.
Therefore, to save yourself from the risks associated with oblivion, enroll yourself or staff in a HIPAA course as soon as possible. It’ll help you ensure the privacy of your patient’s health information, and you’ll also be on safe grounds with regard to the law.
- Prevent Potential HIPAA Risks
Once you get an understanding of HIPAA, you’ll need to put measures in place to ensure that the patient data you handle doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. And, there are many pathways through which malicious parties might use to get their hands on your patient’s PHI. These include:
- Cyberattacks from hackers
- Online or on-site theft of PHI databases
- Human error, for instance, an accidental sharing of PHI information with the wrong recipient
- Publicly discussing a patient’s PHI, be it in person or on social media platforms
The consequences of any breach of a patient’s PHI will lead back to you as the handler of the information. Therefore, to be on the safe side, prevent any loophole in your security system. You could do so by:
- Digitizing paper PHI, which is more prone to exposure to unwanted parties
- Incorporating high-level encryption systems on the devices used to store or transmit patient Protected Health Information
- Creating a secure platform for communicating PHI within your institution
- Implementing standard procedures for securing physical data
- Taking a personal initiative to ensure that your patient’s PHI remains confidential, for instance, avoiding sharing it on social media platforms wherein access by unwarranted parties is easy
- Be Informed Of HIPAA Updates
The versatility of the world necessitates changes and updates on HIPAA rules to make them more flexible. Changes are initiated to reduce unnecessary hindrances when sharing medical records. The modifications are also designed to fit current technological upgrades.
Since its formation two and a half decades ago, HIPAA has undergone significant updates over time. After the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules in 1996, the following updates came about:
- The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act in 2009
- The Breach Notification Rule in 2009
- The Omnibus Final Rule in 2013
Since then, no major update has been issued on HIPAA. However, be on the lookout as some major changes are expected to take place this year. A few noteworthy changes may include:
- Patients’ right to access and get copies of their PHI within a 30-day interval from the time of the request
- Encouragement of parent and primary caregiver role in healthcare
- Promotion of information sharing for medical care and care coordination
These are but a few updates that might take effect this year. Therefore, to remain updated, always ensure to stay a step ahead by visiting HIPAA websites or other credible sites, such as those of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
Being a coordinated caregiver means that you’re part of the team that ensures a patient is receiving healthcare in a safe and effective manner. You come in contact with the patients’ private health records on a daily basis. These records should always remain secure and, as the term describes them, private.
Any violation of disclosing them could land you into trouble with the law. Therefore, make sure that you’re always in compliance with HIPAA rules. And, an easy way to do this is to familiarize yourself with HIPAA risks, prevent potential HIPAA violations, and stay informed of HIPAA updates. This way, your coordinated care services maintain a trustworthy relationship with the patients.