Nearly everyone requires some type of healthcare each year. In fact, most people visit multiple healthcare providers on a regular basis either for illness, injury or preventative care. All healthcare providers need to get personal information from their patients so they can offer them the best treatment possible. Some of these providers include:
- Primary care physician
- Dentist, orthodontist, oral surgeon
- Mental health
- Physical therapist
Those who have complicated or ongoing medical needs may need certain healthcare providers to share their personal and medical information with other healthcare or insurance providers. The best way that they can do this is by using HIPAA compliance technology.
To streamline efficiency and save on costs, like all other industries, healthcare providers are relying more and more on the use of technology. If you think about your most recent healthcare appointment, before your appointment, you may have gotten an automated phone call or text from your provider. After your appointment, you may have received follow-up instructions via email, sent an email inquiry with a health-related question or received an invoice for their services. In all, your personal health information may be transferred to multiple different providers and third parties, using a variety of electronic devices, which may or may not be secure, let alone HIPAA compliant. This illustration makes it easy to see how many people and organizations have access to your personal information and how easily it can get into the wrong hands.
HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The HIPAA rules went into effect in the early 2000s and have been updated many times over the last 20 years to protect personal patient information. Certain information under HIPAA is considered ePHI, or electronic Protected Health Information.
In response to healthcare providers’ need to safeguard policies, practices and information under HIPAA guidelines, BoardEffect paved the way with HIPAA compliance technology in December 2015. While BoardEffect’s software was designed with the strong security required by HIPAA in mind, other industries will find that the BoardEffect board portal system offers their company the highest level of security that eliminates the worry over cybersecurity issues and the lack of security that marks standard personal and business email accounts.
What Does HIPAA Compliance Involve?
The premise of HIPAA came about under former President Bill Clinton to reduce healthcare fraud and abuse, among other issues. HIPAA outlines the rules and regulations for Business Associates, which are typically third-party entities, and Covered Entities, which are healthcare providers, health plans, clearinghouses and other providers that transmit ePHI, to follow when they handle ePHI. In addition to their own strict requirements, covered entities must also ensure that any vendors or Business Associates that touch ePHI are also compliant.
HIPAA is a long, complex and comprehensive law that details many different types of controls around patient data. The details include technical controls, such as data encryption and administrative controls. HIPAA also has requirements for physical controls, such as cross-shredding of paper documents. In addition, HIPAA requires health care providers to establish policies around proper disclosure and risk analysis, as well as to have policies in place for their response to a data breach.
Compliance Matters Around HIPAA
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) list regulations and penalties for non-compliance with HIPAA. In 2016, HHS listed the top five HIPAA compliance issues as:
- Impermissible Uses and Disclosures
- Administrative Safeguards
- Technical Safeguards
The SEC states that boards of directors of organizations bear the responsibility for safeguarding personal information related to HIPAA. Healthcare boards should be aware that the SEC intends to hold them accountable for lax security policies and procedures. Board directors who fail to understand and comply with the HIPAA statute are in violation of their fiduciary duties.
HIPAA violations come with more than a slap on the wrist. Penalties can be painfully high. Penalties for HIPAA violations fall into two categories — Reasonable Cause and Willful Neglect.
Penalties for HIPAA noncompliance range from $100 up to $50,000 per violation or per record. The maximum penalty tops out at $1.5 million per year for violations with identical provisions. As if the monetary penalties aren’t concerning enough, severe violations can also carry criminal charges or jail time. The sheer number of patients that a provider sees may increase the severity of a HIPAA violation. If a provider isn’t aware of a HIPAA noncompliance provision, penalties can add up quickly.
What Makes BoardEffect Different From Other Board Portals?
Ranging from small, local hospitals with simple board structures to national hospital networks with several boards to health benefits organizations, BoardEffect is an industry leader in HIPAA compliance technology and is dedicated to meeting their needs for compliance and secure communication. The company demonstrated an organizational maturity ahead of the rest, as demonstrated by such early compliance with HIPAA. BoardEffect provides a series of safeguards and policies that measure up to HIPAA standards. It is so confident in the security of their board portal systems that they will agree to engage in a HIPAA-compliant “Business Associate Agreement” (“BAA”) that outlines the framework and responsibilities around ePHI related to the BoardEffect platform.
Summarizing the Benefits of Using BoardEffect HIPAA Compliance Technology
Healthcare organizations serve real people. In so doing, they handle some of the most sensitive, personal information available, and they have legal requirements to protect it. In serving healthcare entities in the safest, most secure way, BoardEffect is doing its part to serve and protect the general public.
From the very beginning, BoardEffect held a vision for developing board software products that allow for a safe, secure and intuitive flow of board management information. BoardEffect’s board portal system, minutes software and electronic messenger products assist board directors as they pursue their fiduciary and other board duties and responsibilities. BoardEffect’s HIPAA compliance technology supports enhanced organizational performance and good corporate governance.
The healthcare industry has the most stringent legal requirements possible to protect personal information. BoardEffect offers the necessary top level of protection for healthcare organizations, which means that it provides all industries with an equal level of protection.