HIPAA, which stands for Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act, is very important for rehab treatment centers to review and comply with if you intend on staying in business and avoiding potential fines. Essentially, HIPAA requires all healthcare providers to safeguard personal patient health information and statistics. Adhering to that will keep you in the business and that is the main reason why is HIPAA compliance important.
HIPAA was originally created in 1996 for several reasons. Still, a couple of the primary reasons it was created were to modernize healthcare information flow and stipulate how personal healthcare information about patients should be protected by healthcare providers and health insurance companies alike. It is also known as the improvement of data privacy and security in the healthcare industry. HIPAA regulations were implemented as a multi-tiered approach that set out to upgrade the health insurance system. Basically, it forces healthcare providers and health insurance companies to comply with strict guidelines to protect personally identifiable information from fraud and theft by third parties among other things. One can only imagine the advent of HIPAA compliance came to be due to the early stages of the internet and its proliferating nature heading into the future. Can you say inevitability?
So you’re operating an addiction treatment center. Fantastic! Have you taken a serious look at how your facility is complying with HIPAA? I mean a SERIOUS look at how you’re complying? If not, we strongly suggest making sure your facility is dotting the “I”s and crossing the “T”s on complying with HIPAA requirements.
HIPAA Privacy Rule
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule is a federal law that sets national standards for the protection of certain individually identifiable health information and medical records. The Privacy Rule establishes, among other things, the conditions under which the HIPAA covered entities may disclose protected health information to designated third parties without the individual’s authorization. Covered entities include health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and healthcare providers who conduct certain transactions electronically. The Privacy Rule is based on the principle that individuals have a fundamental right to control the confidentiality of their own health information. The Privacy Rule establishes numerous rights for individuals with respect to their protected health information, as well as restrictions on how covered entities may use and disclose protected health information. The Privacy Rule also gives individuals the right to access and obtain a copy of their own protected health information, with certain limited exceptions. In addition, the Privacy Rule requires covered entities to provide individuals with notice of their rights under the Rule and to adopt policies and procedures designed to protect the privacy of protected health information. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for enforcing the Privacy Rule with respect to covered entities.
HIPAA Security rule
The HIPAA security rule is a set of federal regulations that requires healthcare providers and their business associates to implement specific security measures to safeguard electronic protected health information (ePHI). The rule applies to any entity that creates, receives, maintains, or transmits ePHI.
The security measures required by the HIPAA security rule are meant to safeguard ePHI from intentional or unintentional disclosure, destruction, modification, or unauthorized access. These measures include physical, administrative, and technical safeguards. Physical safeguards involve securing facilities and equipment to prevent unauthorized access, theft, or damage. Administrative safeguards involve implementing policies and procedures to protect ePHI, such as employee training and risk management. Technical safeguards involve using technology to protect ePHI, such as encrypting electronic data and using access controls to limit who can view or modify ePHI.
The HIPAA security rule is important because it helps to ensure that confidential patient information is protected from potential risks. When ePHI is properly secured, it helps to maintain the privacy of patients and their families, as well as the accuracy and integrity of medical records. In addition, securing ePHI can help to prevent healthcare fraud and abuse.
Healthcare providers and their business associates must comply with the HIPAA security rule in order to avoid potential penalties, such as fines, suspension of operations, or even jail time. In addition, failure to comply with the rule can damage a company’s reputation and result in loss of business. Therefore, it is important for healthcare organizations to take the necessary steps to ensure that they are in compliance with the HIPAA security rule.
Why HIPAA Matters to Your Patients
Why does HIPAA compliance matter? Well, the reality is patient information must always be protected regardless of whether you’re operating a single location addiction treatment center or a large healthcare system the likes of Mercy or Cleveland Clinic. And keep in mind that cybercriminals target healthcare organizations to get their hands on this high-value information. In other words, HIPAA will look at all healthcare providers the same when it comes to compliance and without prejudice.
What happens if your facility is found not complying with HIPAA? Well, the Office of Civil Rights, Department of Health and Human Services, is the enforcing body of HIPAA compliance and if you’re found not complying with it, your facility can face substantial fines depending on the severity of the non-compliance issues uncovered. Keep in mind that there are four main categories and each represents its own set of fines. Furthermore, each category of infraction fines will be in aggregate for the years in which your facility didn’t comply. That could be a LOT of bling, to say the least.
For a brief checklist of HIPAA compliance, we have found the HIPAA Journal which offers a great HIPAA compliance checklist that covers the basics.
Since Lead to Recovery is an addiction treatment marketing agency, we’re going to cover several topics related to treatment center marketing and how to ensure your rehab facility can protect itself from any HIPAA compliance issues online.
Have HIPAA Compliance Forms For Insurance Verification
Let’s talk about Insurance Verification form submissions. If you have an addiction and mental health treatment center, chances are you have a “Verify Insurance Today!” Call-to-Action (CTA) on your website and if not, you’re missing out ;). This is also one of the best CTA examples a rehab center can have for inpatient and outpatient rehab admissions. Now comes the question, does this CTA protocol comply with HIPAA? First of all, you better make damn sure your site has a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate in place as the most basic form of securing the CTA. Second, when someone fills in personal information about themselves such as their name, address, SS number, insurance information such as provider and group ID #, etc., where does this transactional page actually live and where does it go once they click “Submit”? If you are not sure about how to answer either of these questions, you need to seek help STAT.
Post on Social Media With Caution to Avoid HIPAA Violations
We live in an age of hyper-transparency and portability of information at lightning speed. This is obvious with peer-to-peer platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., but if you’re operating a treatment center, you must tread lightly and carefully. At no point should your center share ANY private information about patients at your rehab center or share private messages with loved ones or relatives of patients through social platforms. However, this is not to say you can’t have testimonial videos of past patients (with written permission, of course) and such, because that’s okay. Tread very carefully here, people.
Managing Data Security in the Age of Mobility
We live in a brave new world of technology mobility. These days, people walk around like zombies half the time hunched over their smartphones, checking email, scrolling through social feeds, etc.
There’s no doubt you’re looking at private information on the move since most of us do, but be smart about it when it comes to sharing information. Make sure whatever device you have is password protected and if you’re not using it, please do yourself a favor and shut it off so others can’t access it. Furthermore, please be sure to NOT exchange private patient information via text messages to other personnel or to others in general, even loved ones of patients, since most mobile devices are not secure for the most part. These infractions alone can be HIPAA violations if they’re uncovered.
Separately, but related to data security in general for treatment centers and behavioral healthcare providers, you will want to fundamentally ensure your facility’s on-site network is locked down tighter than Fort Knox’s vaults. Additionally, if you are allowing your rehab center’s employees the ability to access private patient information from a personal home desktop or laptop computer, you may find yourself in a bit of a pickle regarding HIPAA compliance. You’ve been warned.
HIPAA Resources to Keep Your Rehab Center in Check
If you’re operating an addiction treatment center and are unsure about whether or not your facility is following HIPAA compliance rules, you need to look into not only establishing company-wide policies that all employees must follow, but it also makes sense to keep up with the changes of HIPAA rules and reinforce them with your employees by updating your HIPAA standard protocols within your organization. What better resource than the Health Information Privacy Act resources page from HHS.gov to keep up with the latest news and standards?
Hire A Full-Service Digital Agency For Drug Rehab Marketing
At our full-service marketing agency, we work exclusively with treatment centers to drive treatment for addiction leads that generate admissions. Let Lead to Recovery help your rehab marketing campaign soar to new heights with our SEO, Web Design, PPC, and outstanding Social Media services. Don’t hesitate! Get a FREE QUOTE on us!