When it comes to HIPAA compliance, many healthcare professionals are searching for a way to certify their 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.
If you need assistance with HIPAA compliance, consider working with our TBHI affiliate, the HIPAA Compliancy Group. (When you purchase services from them, TBHI will be paid a small commission.) They can help you support your HIPAA compliance with The Guard®. The Guard is a web-based HIPAA compliance solution, built by former auditors to help simplify compliance. The Guard is built to address the HIPAA regulations, including guided walkthroughs of HIPAA Risk Assessments. With The Guard, you can focus on running your practice while keeping your patients’ data protected and secure. Compliancy Group’s team of expert Compliance Coaches® can also field questions and guide you through the implementation process, taking the stress out of managing compliance. Find out more about how Compliancy Group and the HIPAA Seal of Compliance® can help simplify your HIPAA compliance today!
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the article and on this blog post are those of the authors. These do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, and position of the Telebehavioral Health Institute (TBHI). Any content written by the authors are their opinion and are not intended to malign any organization, company or individuals.