New Jersey’s health care industry is booming as state leadership encourages both new health-related businesses to move in and healthcare scientists to innovate at its many research facilities. However, both new and established healthcare entities must remain HIPAA compliant to maintain their place with the state’s bustling healthcare markets. If your enterprise handles healthcare files of any type, it may be worth it to hire a managed IT provider for all your HIPAA compliance services in New Jersey.
New Jersey’s Burgeoning Healthcare Sector
New Jersey enjoys a stellar reputation as a state-of-the-art healthcare hub. With more than 21,000 health care services businesses plus the state’s research institutions and world-class universities, the Garden State attracts both practitioners and patients from around the world. And the industry is a solid foundation for much of the state’s economy; it employs over 468,000 workers and serves an average of 18 million patients every year.
HIPAA Compliance is Critical
All those patients represent billions of data bits and the technological infrastructure that is tasked with managing them must comply with federal standards to ensure it remains confidential and safe. In 1996, the U.S. Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to facilitate better care for the country’s residents while also reducing the opportunity for fraud and waste within its healthcare systems.
For healthcare practitioners and services providers, HIPAA required a shift away from traditional healthcare record management practices and a move toward electronic controls and oversights to protect patient confidentiality and privacy. While the transition was fraught with errors, confusion and challenges, over time, most (if not all) health care professionals have now fully embraced the digital management tools that ensure the security of protected health information (PHI).
The HIPAA Security Rule and Privacy Rule
HIPAA protects patient information in two ways:
Applicable to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers, the Privacy Rule mandates that all PHI remain confidential and private, and sets out limits for when and how providers can share their patient’s confidential information. In many cases, patient authorization is explicitly required before any PHI can be shared with another entity.
Data that moves is exposed to increased risk of inappropriate exposure. Consequently, HIPAA also requires that any entity that creates, uses, receives, shares or maintains PHI must keep it safe while at rest and while in transit. The rule anticipates that covered entities will generate and maintain the technical, physical and administrative safeguards that protect their patient’s PHI throughout and after the caregiving phase.
Additionally, the HIPAA Notification Rule requires that health care providers notify every patient of every breach or incident that might have compromised the safety and security of the PHI. The provider must also report the incident to the federal Department of Health and Human Services and to the media if the breach involves the data of more than 500 patients.
Complying with HIPAA
Compliance with HIPAA requires adhering to its standards and practices as those are set out in its originating statute as well as in subsequent legislation. Compliance also encompasses the activities of “Business Associates,” when those entities have access to PHI because of a contractual or business relationship with the provider. Providers are responsible for ensuring that their Business Associates are also compliant.
Complying with Safeguards
Each of the three classes of safeguards has specified standards that must be met to achieve HIPAA compliance. At a minimum, these safeguards must be in place:
- Technical Safeguards:
- Access controls that ensure only those authorized to view data can gain access to it, especially in emergencies.
- Authentication procedures that ensure that electronic PHI (ePHI) is authentic and hasn’t been altered.
- Encryption and Decryption control that scramble ePHI when it travels beyond provider firewalls.
- Activity logs and audit controls that record who accesses ePHI when, why and how.
- Automatic log-offs to ensure that no open portals are left to entice inappropriate intrusions.
- Physical Safeguards
- Facility Access controls that govern who has physical access to the data, its storage spaces, and its handlers.
- Workstation placement policies that govern usage of ePHI-related workstations to limit inappropriate exposure to non-authorized personnel.
- Mobile device controls that govern how workers access ePHI from mobile devices.
- Hardware inventory and controls that identify with ePHI-related machines are used, transferred to and from and disposed of.
- Administrative Safeguards
- Risk assessments to ensure that all known vulnerabilities are accounted for and protected against.
- Risk management policies that regularly review risks and modify practices accordingly.
- Employee training to ensure all workers know of PHI risks and understand the practices and policies related to them.
- Contingency planning that ensures patient care will continue regardless of breaches or failures within the system.
- Third-party restrictions that ensure business associates have authorizations to access PHI.
- Security incident reporting policies in conformance with the Notification Rule.
Managed IT Providers Offer HIPAA Compliance Services in New Jersey
Managed IT providers that offer HIPAA compliance services in New Jersey have the programming needed to ensure HIPAA compliance with all requirements. Once the service is set up according to the properties of the customer, cloud-based programming keeps customers compliant with current HIPAA standards. The cloud-based computing service also keeps a vigilant eye on changes in HIPAA regulations and both notifies customers while making the changes to the relevant services and systems.
You can use this convenient checklist of HIPAA standards to find a managed IT services provider familiar with HIPAA compliance services in New Jersey.