HIPAA Building Blocks: The Privacy Rule

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Implementing a complete HIPAA program is kind of like assembling a piece of furniture from IKEA – there’s lots of different pieces and little direction when putting it all together. Even if you’re a master IKEA-assembler, HIPAA is a whole extra level of confusion, and breaking it down into the basics can help make things a little less stressful.

The first step in building a complete HIPAA compliance program is to start with the base – the HIPAA Security Rule. Once you have a sturdy foundation made up of all of the proper documentation and required safeguards, it’s onto step number two: otherwise known as the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

Many of the nuts and bolts of HIPAA law are built into the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which provides strong privacy protections to safeguard sensitive patient information and ensure patients have proper access to their own medical records. Thanks to the Privacy Rule:

  • Patients are empowered to have more control over their health information to access and make any changes as needed.
  • Boundaries are set on the use and release of health records, including the minimum necessary standard for information disclosures.

Record access and privacy are the basic goals behind the Privacy Rule, but the second piece of the rule includes an extensive list of ongoing compliance requirements, such as:

  • Updating your Security Risk Analysis on an ongoing basis and reducing any vulnerabilities identified through risk mitigation
  • Conducting ongoing HIPAA training with all staff members
  • Implementing and properly documenting policies and procedures specific to your practice
  • Obtaining patient authorization and consent forms from all patients before being treated
  • Completing business association agreements with all third-party vendors your practice works with
  • And last but certainly not least, ensuring that all necessary documents, policies, procedures and other fun stuff are kept in a safe, organized, and easily accessible HIPAA manual

Just like opening up that new box from IKEA, taking on a complete HIPAA compliance program can feel overwhelming. However, Privacy Rule complaints continue to roll in to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and patient right of access violations have become an increasing point of OCR focus since 2019 – making compliance with the Privacy Rule a top HIPAA priority.

Now unless you’re a DIY enthusiast, you might opt for new furniture that doesn’t come in a 1,000 different pieces. Choosing a pre-assembled option instead saves you time, energy, and headaches – and the same can be said of HIPAA.

Choosing a HIPAA compliance software like Abyde lets you fill in a few quick areas to get your program up to speed, instead of having to build each piece from scratch. In less than an hour, and with far less headaches, you can get everything you need to be compliant, and so much more. The best part? There’s no need for an instruction manual – Abyde has real people ready and waiting to help walk you through the process and make sure you aren’t missing any important pieces (like finding that missing screw from step 7 on step 28) along the way.

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