When it comes to HIPAA compliance, many healthcare professionals are searching for a way to certifytheir efforts. However, it must be noted that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) currently issues no HIPAA certification. These are the government entities responsible for creating and enforcing the HIPAA rules.
Under HIPAA regulation, there are no certifications for HIPAA compliance. When facing a HIPAA audit, federal investigators will not be looking toward government certification to assess the level of your behavioral health practice’s compliance.
Instead, HIPAA regulation is based on performing and documenting a “good faith effort” toward HIPAA compliance. HIPAA is based off of several rules which set national standards for maintaining the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI). PHI is any demographic information that can be used to identify a patient. Common examples of PHI include a patient’s name, address, date of birth, telephone number, Social Security number, financial information, and medical records, to name a few.
Is there a third party HIPAA Certification?
There are no third-party HIPAA certifications that can be purchased. There are third-party organizations that may issue a validation that you have been through their compliance process to create an effective compliance program. However, a validation alone will not protect you. You must ensure that you have implemented everything outlined in HIPAA regulation in order to protect your business against data breaches and fines.
An effective HIPAA compliance solution should include:
- Audits to assess the status of your organization’s compliance
- Remediation plans to fix any gaps in your compliance
- Policies and procedures to guide and document your compliance efforts
- Employee training, performed annually, on all policies and procedures
- Documentation of your compliance program maintained for six years
- Vendor management and business associate agreements
- Incident management and reporting in the event that your organization experiences a data breach
HIPAA certification means nothing without an effective compliance program in place to keep your business safe. With the increasingly digital nature of healthcare, telehealth providers in particular are at a heightened risk for data breaches. The best way to prevent data breaches and protect your business is with an effective compliance program and cybersecurity protections in place.