HIP HIP HIPAA? Okay maybe not. I admit it. Nothing sounds fun, exciting, or “hip” about compliance. Keeping track of every record throughout its lifecycle, and ensuring its protection is a daunting challenge. One where every request, workflow, and transaction is dictated by a set of written policies and procedures – and, any deviation from the standard protocol may result in a large pile of paper work and an even larger headache.
But let’s not forget, the requirements in place are not without good reason. It’s not process for the sake of process. Rather process for the sake of protection. The privacy and security of each patient’s sensitive information is at stake. Just one file can contain full name, social security number, date of birth – not to mention more private details such as health history, medical ailments and treatment delivered. Fallen into the wrong hands, this information can be devastating – or, quite frankly, just plain embarrassing.
As you know, these repercussions extend beyond the patients. Healthcare organizations themselves face significant ramifications should they encounter a privacy or security breach. And when I say significant, I mean SIGNIFICANT. Not only are their names subject to being publically splashed across what I like to call the “HIPAA Wall of Shame,” but they face considerable financial penalties. As a matter of fact, one of the largest settlements for a HIPAA violation to date amounted to $2.25 million – and that’s not including any civil money penalties that may or may not have followed.
So what am I getting at here? Compliance can be painful. You know it. I know it. We all know it. But what we cannot forget is just how far reaching and devastating the consequences non-compliance can be. Noncompliance puts your patients’ private information at risk, it puts your brand’s reputation at risk, and it puts your organization’s wallet at risk. All these things considered, maybe it is “HIP” to be compliant after all – and maybe we owe all those who dedicate themselves to ensuring it a big thank you.
In honor of HIP week 2012, let’s take a moment to thank those who go to such great lengths to manage sensitive health information securely and in compliance with many ever-evolving regulations. To all those involved, from HIM to the healthcare providers to Health IT – thank you, thank you, and thank you.
Looking for ways you can improve the safety and security of your patient information? Check out this HIPAA Best Practice Checklist.