HIPAA Compliance Breaches Higher Than Ever: What Are You Doing About It?

April 26, 2016
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In 2015, we witnessed the highest level of HIPAA compliance breaches yet, and 2016 isn’t expected to be much better. Even if you’re a small practice, you’re not immune to security breaches, and you’re probably making more mistakes than you realize. It’s essential that medical professionals make it a priority to protect themselves and their practices from such mistakes.

In 2015, we witnessed the highest level of HIPAA compliance breaches yet, and 2016 isn’t expected to be much better. Even if you’re a small practice, you’re not immune to security breaches, and you’re probably making more mistakes than you realize. It’s essential that medical professionals make it a priority to protect themselves and their practices from such mistakes.

Since 2009, there have been more than 29.3 million cases in which a patient’s health records were compromised due to a data breach. In 2014, the number of data breaches jumped 138 percent from 2012. This doesn’t include the possible millions of compliance issues organizations face every day without reporting them. Experts predict that if every HIPAA compliance violation was reported, the number would be closer to 40 million.

This is a very serious matter. Compliance breaches not only put patients at risk, but also threaten your practice. When healthcare records are compromised, it can subject the perpetrators to lawsuits with claims as serious as medical negligence, which can result in a lost license.

Many of these breaches are completely avoidable if professionals take the proper precautions and treat their patient records with utmost care and respect. Here are some of the ways healthcare providers can promote HIPAA compliance.

Recognize Common Breaches

One of the best steps you can take towards prevention is recognizing when and how breaches happen most. Here are some of the most common violations:

  • Disclosing patient information to a third party without permission
  • Failing to destroy outdated information
  • Making mistakes when filing paperwork
  • Incorrectly disposing of patient information
  • Failing to encrypt your computer and put up security measures to prevent hacking
  • Lost or stolen devices

Most of the time, human error is at fault, and working with your staff is the best way you can avoid these breaches and protect your patient information. Include the most common violations in training to keep all employees on the same page.

Update Company Policies

In an effort to keep your employees informed regarding common violations and prevention measures, update your company policies. Combining device scanning with workflow, policies, and procedures will help you establish a more complete picture of what changes need to be made. When policies are updated to meet the latest compliance standards, it makes keeping violations under control much easier.

Train Employees 

Hold regular training meetings in which you discuss the policies put in place and ensure employees are all on the same page. In addition to meetings, send out informational emails and documents to illustrate changes and updates and to underscore the importance of keeping up with these changes.

Trainings can become cumbersome and are often overdone, but this is one area of your practice you can’t afford to skip. You may even need to hire out for extra help in order to complete more accurate trainings and write policies that maintain current HIPAA standards.

When your entire practice is on board with the policies and standards, you’ll have a much easier time keeping information safe and secure. It’s not worth risking a lawsuit or possible license loss just to skip these trainings. If you want to keep your facility from becoming another statistic, you’ll do what it takes to make your facility comply.