The HITECH Act stands for Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act which is under ARRA or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It was enacted to encourage the execution of EHR (electronic health records) and assist technology in America.
This act expected the step-up in ePHI (electronic protected health information) exchange between hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare entities that keep ePHI in order to reduce cost of healthcare through sharing. Hence, the HITECH Act dilated security and privacy scope under HIPAA through increased legal liability in terms of non-compliance.
Both HITECH and HIPAA regulations are designed to provide more rigorous enforcement of healthcare data security. Moreover, HITECH Act stated that healthcare providers should be compensated, starting in year 2011, if they can prove substantive use of EHR. The monetary incentive was given until 2015, which subsequently charged penalties for those who fail to prove such use.
Auditing Entities with Willful Neglect
HITECH compliance strictly enforces data protection of healthcare providers. Audits are performed on healthcare entities that willfully neglect duties in terms of ePHI data security. Mandatory penalties are given to any entity that has been reported with willful neglect.
Willful neglect is not being able to present Privacy and Security certification to the investigators. The documents must cover every aspect of the regulation or else, entities will charged with willful neglect. According to the HIPAA-HITECH Act, violation penalties amount to $250,000 while repeat violations can extend to $1.5 million.
Depending on conditions, criminal and civil penalties of HIPAA can extend to the entities’ business associates. As a matter of fact, the HIPAA rule states that if an entity is covered by the rule and shares information with other business associates, they must guarantee data protection.
This only goes to show that the Health and Human Services is sincere about mandating healthcare entities to comply with the regulations. HIPAA defined the guidelines to make sure covered organizations understand what type of information can be or cannot be shared without patient permission.
Patients should be notified when there’s unsecured breach. Notification requirements, however, were created based on government data breach regulations related to personally identifiable business information. Local media are also encouraged to be notified in case of breach.
It’s crucial to understand the rules and regulations of HIPAA and HITECH acts in order to prevent violations or penalized violators. More importantly, healthcare organizations will treat patient data with utmost security at all times.
HIPAA and HITECH Compliance
In order to further more understand HIPAA and HITECH, the Department of Health and Human Services required annual privacy and security training for healthcare organizations and covered entities to ensure the security of patient data. There are different kinds of data breaches that could happen when there’s a lack of knowledge, having your employees’ obtain adequate information on how they could securely handle patients’ data could help prevent data breaches.
With all the penalties awaiting once a negligence in handling patient data was observed, a HIPAA and HITECH compliance training could help prevent such violations. Most authorities believe that a HIPAA and HITECH compliance training must be specially focused on employees since they are the ones who usually access patients data for everyday use and transactions. And most of the time, vulnerable in handling healthcare data. Having them trained under an effective HIPAA compliance course could raise their knowledge on how to effectively secure patient data and to better understand the penalties and violations not only them will face but also the health organization or covered entity they are working for. A well-informed employee is a great asset to prevent data breaches and combat data losses.
It is necessary to comply to all the standard rules and regulations the law has stated to ensure the patients that their data are well-taken care of and will never be compromised to cyber crimes. Health organizations and all covered entities must always keep in mind that they have a big responsibility not only in the lives of their patient but also their personal information.