Healthcare is a sensitive industry. When treating patients, you need lots and lots of personal information. This helps to give doctors the best picture of the patient’s condition.
Of course, it includes personal information, such as a home address and other important contact information. But more importantly, it includes medical and lifestyle history.
This can include anything that may affect one’s health, such as drug history, sexual history, travel history, and many other factors. It wouldn’t be fair if any of this information left the doctor’s office.
HIPAA compliance is all about protecting this private, patient information. The government act that established HIPAA was meant to keep this information solely between a healthcare provider and the patient, not to be shared with others.
But ensuring HIPAA compliance in a healthcare facility isn’t easy. However, it’s always worth the effort. Keep reading to learn why it’s crucial to follow HIPAA guidelines every single day.
1. Follow Legal Guidelines
One of the biggest benefits of HIPAA compliance is that it’s required. The HIPAA Act is a government implemented act that requires healthcare facilities to protect private customer information.
You can’t operate a facility that exposes customer information, or you’re going to get fined and eventually shut down. So following HIPAA guidelines as a means of business security is essentially a prerequisite to treating patients and conducting business.
You need to get HIPAA certified in order to for your healthcare facility to legally treat patients. Click here to learn more about certification, and how long it takes to get it.
2. HIPAA Compliance Provides Patient Peace of Mind
HIPAA compliance is how you build trust with patients. In order to grow your healthcare business, you need to be able to serve as many patients as possible. But if your patients don’t trust you, they aren’t going to come back.
And in order to effectively treat patients, you need to know as much as possible about a patient’s health and life history, and current decisions. If a patient doesn’t trust you to maintain HIPAA compliance, they might not share the fact they have been exposed to certain substances, or that they are having unhealthy or suicidal thoughts.
But these bits of information are crucial to effectively diagnosing a patient and providing the best possible care to ensure they get better.
3. Prevent HIPAA Violations
Staying HIPAA compliant means that you will avoid all of the common violations made by healthcare providers. Violations can lead to leaks in patient information and ultimately come back to harm your facility in one way or another.
For example, a common HIPAA violation is when a healthcare employee snoops on the healthcare information of others. It might be family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, or someone else they have a connection to. Some healthcare providers even feel the need to spy on the healthcare records of celebrities.
With the data so readily available to certain employees, these types of risks are common. But if this occurs, the employee will almost always have their employment terminated. There’s a chance they can face criminal charges as well, as doing so is clearly against the law.
There’s also a chance that the healthcare facility could face financial charges if they haven’t implemented security measures to prevent this activity from happening.
4. Create a Safe Healthcare Environment
Following HIPAA guidelines is the baseline for creating a trustworthy healthcare facility. It’s all about security, privacy, and trust. If patients can’t trust doctors with personal information, why would they trust them to make health recommendations?
Why would they trust the medication they prescribe, or their ability to perform surgical procedures?
When a healthcare facility prioritizes HIPAA compliance, they are telling their entire staff and their patients that this is a place of authenticity and safety, where shady behavior is not tolerated.
5. Reduce Liability
If your healthcare facility isn’t actively protecting patient information, then it will be held responsible for the losses it incurs. You can face serious financial charges when information is leaked from your facility.
This may happen when an employee glances down at records and discloses this information to others. And it can happen when records aren’t kept secure, using up-to-date security practices, and outsiders sneak their way in.
Maintaining HIPAA compliance costs money. Usually, designated team members are put in place to oversee compliance and manage patient records.
But the money spent on compliance will help protect you from lawsuits which could result in the loss of much more money. Lawsuits will also help you lose lots of patients, as the media will likely put your failures on display for the entire country to see.
6. Better Satisfaction Rates
If your patients are satisfied with the level of healthcare you provide, they will continue to return and use your services. The more patients that stay with you, the more your business will be able to grow.
But security breaches, even if they don’t affect the majority of your patients, result in a loss of trust. So even if only one person’s records are exposed, you may lose many patients as they no longer trust their information with you.
Eliminating security breaches by maintaining HIPAA standards is the easiest way to maintain trust and lifelong patients.
7. Protect Against PHI Loss
At some point in time, sensitive information may be leaked from your facility in one way or another. Private healthcare information (PHI) can escape even if you do everything in your power to protect it.
In these instances, you may still be protected. As long as you are following all of the rules and guidelines, and information still makes its way out, HIPAA compliance will act as a layer of protection between your facility and any lawsuits.
However, you will likely undergo investigations to ensure your entire facility is following HIPAA guidelines perfectly. For this protection to extend to your facility, you need to be on top of your security game.
HIPAA Compliance Is Worth the Effort
Is HIPAA compliance easy and free to implement? No, not at all. It takes a lot of work, and the combined effort of your entire staff in order to main HIPAA compliance and protect private healthcare information.
But it’s necessary in order for you to serve your community, build a lasting business, and continue to create jobs and save lives. It’s always worth the effort.
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