How Businesses Commonly Make HIPAA Violations Without Knowing It
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How Businesses Commonly Make HIPAA Violations Without Even Knowing It

Posted on May 10, 2017 by Jim Peake

How Businesses Commonly Make HIPAA Violations Without Even Knowing It

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires all health care professionals to safeguard patient protected health information. The United States Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights is responsible for enforcing HIPAA standards and investigating claims of HIPAA violations.

For some treatment facilities, marketing and compliance can become an issue. To generate leads and find clients, addiction centers need to partner with a firm like us, Addiction-Rep, for rehab lead generation that is HIPAA compliant. Run-of-the-mill marketing firms don’t tend to understand the delicate nature of secure data, putting you at risk for common rehab HIPAA violations. We can help your treatment facility stay full, without violating HIPAA regulations.

While many health care professionals have lost their jobs and faced substantial lawsuits for knowingly compromising patient data, it’s important for health care employees to realize that even unintentional HIPAA violations can have the same result. We know how to promote your center and keep data secure.

Common HIPAA Violations

A HIPAA violation can lead to fines up to $1.5 million, sanctions, and potentially loss of license. Most health care organizations take HIPAA compliance very seriously and encourage compliance at all levels of their organizations.

Consider these common HIPAA violations:

Marketing and Social Media

While there have been notable intentional breaches of patient information in recent years, most HIPAA violations arise from carelessness, complacency or simple ignorance of the law. One culprit is technology. Sharing photos of work on social media, making comments about patients on social media profiles, and even private messaging with patients’ friends and loved ones can lead to HIPAA violations.

Data Security

Lost devices are another concern. Many health care professionals can access patient information and other HIPAA-protected data using various devices. Technology allows modern health care professionals to connect with and serve patients in various ways across multiple devices. However, losing a device can lead to a serious HIPAA violation if whoever finds the device can access patient information.

Health care professionals should use good judgment when it comes to internet safety and passwords. Anyone working in health care should never share a password with someone else, even another employee. Additionally, devices meant for work should only be used for work. Installing personal software or accessing potentially dangerous websites can lead to a data breach. Health care organizations are one of the ripest targets for hackers since patient information is so valuable.

Illegal Disclosure

In some instances, texting may seem like a great way to quickly relay patient information, but again can lead to common rehab HIPAA violations. While it may seem harmless and a quick way to get others up to speed on a patient’s condition, personal mobile devices are largely unsecured. This puts patient data at risk. Additionally, health care employees should never attempt to access patient information from a home or personal computer.

Some patients may need to see multiple doctors and specialists to receive treatment. In these situations, it’s vital for the primary care provider to obtain the patient’s consent to share his or her information with other health care professionals. The HIPAA Privacy Rule dictates that patients must willingly provide written consent for their health information to be shared with others.

Preventing HIPAA Violations

One of the best ways to prevent common rehab HIPAA violations in your workplace is to make HIPAA compliance a part of your company culture. Ensure employees understand the importance of information security and complying with HIPAA standards. Be clear about erring on the side of caution: If you are unsure whether an action would be a HIPAA violation, ask for clarification before continuing.

Network and device concerns vary from organization to organization, but a few best practices can help providers stay in compliance. Employ device monitoring so units can be quickly found or remotely disabled if lost or stolen. Additionally, encourage employees to use complex passwords and change them regularly. Finally, offer regular training to employees about HIPAA compliance.

Staying Educated on HIPAA Regulations

Even a seemingly harmless misstep can lead to loss of license, hefty lawsuit damages, or worse. At Addiction-Rep, we understand compliance because we are focused on lead generation specifically for treatment centers. We understand the price of costly common rehab HIPAA violations, and we take that into consideration in our marketing so treatment centers can continue providing patients with the best care possible.

Traditional firms don’t understand the unique considerations of treatment facilities, but we do. We’ve dedicated our resources to helping treatment facilities and clients find each other.

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Jim Peake

Jim is an Internet Oldtimer, literally, and he was making a living online before Yahoo and Google were incorporated and even before Al Gore “invented” the Internet. Jim was the catalyst for putting the internet on the front page of every newspaper around the world in one day when he sold the website design and development to IBM for the Kasparov vs. IBM’s Deep Blue chess tournament in 1996. Jim has been in the direct response and advertising industry (printing) since the early 1980’s. Jim’s primary focus is the healthcare and addiction treatment field where he is a management consultant as well as an analytics and digital marketing consultant. - Learn more about Jim Peake, President

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