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October 23, 2020

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health and Human Services has issued a reminder for HIPAA adherence pertaining to the ways that patient information can be shared during outbreaks of infectious disease and other emergency situations such as this one.

Not complying with HIPAA regulations badly affects patients. Their data is exposed to malicious entities. Their trust in your company wanes. And even if you’re not worried about the moral implications or your public perception, the fact is you’re not off the hook for noncompliance. There are severe penalties for not following the rules.

What is HIPAA?

In the United States, electronic protected health information management is covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Security Rule requirements. All covered entities, including hospitals, doctors’ offices and health insurance providers, must abide by HIPAA Security Rule guidelines when handling ePHI.

What happens if you violate HIPAA?

When a health care organization suffers a data breach, it’s not enough to simply react after the fact. Legally, noncompliance can become a nightmare for all parties involved. The individual who caused a breach is not the only one who ends up taking the blame. One single mistake has the potential to implicate an entire organization. Not only does that result in hefty fines, but it also results in loss of the public’s trust and the organization’s reputation.

Penalties for HIPAA noncompliance are broken down into four categories of fines:

  1. Willful neglect with no corrective action taken
  2. Willful neglect with corrective action taken
  3. Reasonable cause for noncompliance
  4. No knowledge of noncompliance

Each level of noncompliance comes with its own financial penalty for your company or organization.

How can Rimstorm help you follow HIPAA guidelines?

HIPAA Compliance and Managed Security in Health CareWhen outbreaks like these occur, it’s easy for the public to begin to panic. From there, it’s a slippery slope, as rules and regulations can become blurred amidst the chaos. That’s why when incidents like these do happen, it’s more important than ever to have a clear set of guidelines to follow. And it’s even more important to make sure you’re following them correctly. Do not allow public panic to sway you from civic responsibility and the law. Rimstorm can help you meet HIPAA requirements and create a security management process in order to protect against “attempted or successful unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification or interference with system operations,” as outlined by official HIPAA directives. Additionally, the guidelines state that an organization must be able to monitor, report and alert on attempted or successful access to systems and applications that contain sensitive patient information.

That’s a lot of responsibility for a health care organization to take on by themselves — particularly if they’re not trained in IT security like we are. Rimstorm is here to help you and your patients.