HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is never something companies want to deal with. It’s time-consuming, confusing, and littered with “what ifs.” But unfortunately, it’s something that companies have to deal with.
It’s either that or you deal with the consequences — which could be fines or a one-way ticket to a permanently closed business.
So in hopes of keeping your doors wide open for years to come, here are a few insider tips to help you get HIPAA compliant.
Know your lingo.
First and foremost, you should never completely offload HIPAA onto someone else’s plate.
Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t outsource the “task” of compliance. That’s perfectly fine. But what it does mean is that you can’t become uninformed.
In this particular case, a great place to start is with the lingo. If you know the lingo surrounding HIPAA, then you’ll be in a really good position. HOWEVER, this isn’t exactly the easiest the thing to do.
There is A LOT that goes into HIPAA, which means there are more than enough terms, phrases, and names to go around. But you do need to start somewhere, so here’s a step in the right direction:
- VERY Basic Definitions of HIPAA and Related Terms — Yes, this is VERY basic, but if you’re new to the world of HIPAA or if your goal is to train other employees, this is excellent reading material.
- HIPAA Definition Index from HIPAA Survival Guide — It’s never a bad idea to whip out the flashcards, and this website can help build up your arsenal.
- Your 3-step Checklist to the HIPAA Security Rule — While this is only one rule within one category of HIPAA, it never hurts to get more in-depth with HIPAA one step at a time.
Adopt a good mentality.
A good mentality goes a long way, and this works hand-in-hand with developing a basic understanding of HIPAA lingo.
If you’ve taken the time to understand what things mean and how they fit into each other, then you have the beginning of a good mentality. But it’s important to take things a step further than that. Here’s what you need to know:
- Adopt an “always be learning” mentality — Cyberthreats are ever-evolving, which means your network security solution should never remain stagnant. This same concept holds true with HIPAA. There will always be something new to learn, and because of this, it’s important to never stop educating yourself on the ins and outs of HIPAA compliance.
- Develop an internal locus of control — In simple terms, an internal locus of control means you believe that things ultimately rest on you. In other words, what happens as far as HIPAA is concerned is up to you. You’re either compliant or you’re not — but whatever the case is, it’s your decision (or a series of steps you did or didn’t take that brought you to where you are now).
Make it someone’s job.
HIPAA is a full-time job. So if you aren’t going to partner with someone who can keep you compliant, then you need to designate someone on your team to handle that job in its entirety.
But aside from that, even if you do outsource compliance, you should still have someone responsible for managing and maintaining the relationship with that partner, as well as your company’s compliance status.
Again, this step also works hand-in-hand with adopting a good mentality and understanding the basics of HIPAA. It’s all about awareness. The more you know, the better off you’ll be.
It’s also not a bad idea to understand where and why most companies fail to adhere to HIPAA regulations and standards. Learn from their mistakes, so you don’t have to make any. Take a look at 5 frightening HIPAA statistics you need to know to get a better idea of where most SMBs fail with HIPAA.