Are you the owner or manager of a business associate as defined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)? If you are not certain about this status, there is a chance that you will receive an email from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services about an upcoming audit.
Under HIPAA, a business associate has a professional relationship with a covered entity, and thus the electronic disclosure of patient information takes place as a result of this association. Here are three examples of HIPAA business in and around Apple Valley:
- A medical transcription specialist who renders services to doctors and clinics in the High Desert region.
- A drugstore that is part of the patient care network of a health insurance plan.
- A law firm retained by a health insurer to protect against contested claims.
In essence, any business that receives patient data in electronic format will be subject to HIPAA compliance. The level of HIPAA compliance for business associates is not as stringent as it is for covered entities; nonetheless, certain requirements must be met, and one of them is the use of a HIPAA-compliant email system for patient data.
Protecting Data Privacy Under HIPAA
Although HIPAA has been around for more than a decade, compliance and enforcement actions have really stepped up since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare. OCR began the audit process with visits to covered entities; in March 2016, email notifications were received by business associates about upcoming desk audits. The audits are expected to continue and increase in 2017.
By July, the OCR had initiated desk audits of 167 business associates. Each audit focuses on how each company has implemented HIPAA provisions with regard to protecting privacy and providing security to electronic health records and other patient data stored in digital format.
Sonic Systems in Victorville offers hosted email solutions that are fully compliant with HIPAA for the purpose of transmitting and storing electronic patient health information. Our compliant systems bear a Business Associate Agreement that we can extend to our clients for the purpose and benefit of HIPAA compliance.
If you would like to learn more about HIPAA compliant email hosting solutions in Apple Valley, contact Sonic Systems today.