Failure to comply with HIPAA standards and provisions can result in hefty fines and penalties being issued, and, in extreme cases, the loss of practices’ licenses. One of the compulsory steps of ensuring compliance is conducting a HIPAA risk assessment. Every covered entity and its business associates that handle protected health information (PHI) are required to conduct this assessment, as the HIPAA Security Rule states. 

By an accurate and thorough risk assessment, organizations can analyze the threats and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all PHI. However, most covered entities and business associates overlook the necessity of conducting a HIPAA Privacy risk assessment, which is equally as important as security risk assessments. 

Assessing risks is an ongoing process that cannot be completed in one session. Carrying out these tasks often seems insurmountable and impossible. Exactly how should a busy healthcare organization accomplish these tasks while simultaneously managing other operations and serving patients? For instance, Touchstone Medical Imaging paid a fine of $3 million to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for failing to conduct a proper HIPAA risk assessment – an incident where 300,000 patients’ PHI was exposed. Clearly, this is an indication that not all healthcare organizations are able to conduct thorough risk assessments for a long period of time.

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However, can an organization that lacks in-house expertise, resources, or time accomplish such a complex requirement? Of course, they can, and here are five strategies that can help your organization:

Getting Educated

HIPAA or not, being knowledgeable on topics before addressing any issues always helps. Similarly, before an organization begins to address HIPAA risk assessment issues, they need to educate themselves on HIPAA Rules. On the bright side, there are various online resources on OCR’s website that can help educate employees of an organization. Although, most of these resources are difficult to comprehend. Not to mention, providing HIPAA training is an integral part of the compliance process. That is exactly what HIPAAReady – HIPAA compliance software helps to address. With our expertise and guidance, your organization will be able to comprehend the complexities of the HIPAA Rules through our blogs and articles. On top of that, HIPAA Ready enables organizations to easily manage and deploy training for their employees while having access to all updated HIPAA information.

Getting Organized

Before a HIPAA audit, organizations can ask officials for some time to get everything organized. This OCR audit protocol provides audit inquiry questions that should help organizations determine whether they are meeting regulatory requirements. All documents should be well organized. Depending on the size of an organization, OCR may collect as many as hundreds of documents including training logs, HIPAA risk assessments, password policies, and many more. With HIPAAReady, organizations will be able to simplify their administrative burden by easily maintaining these documents and keeping them organized.

Getting the right HIPAA risk assessment tool

Finding the right risk assessment tool can help organizations to identify and measure threats and vulnerabilities to their PHI. The National Institute of Technology Standards (NIST) offers a free risk assessment tool that helps organizations to assess their ePHI risks. However, HIPAAReady offers a comprehensive risk assessment tool, including facility security, password policies, detailed reporting, self-audits, and features that fall under the HIPAA Privacy Rule risk assessments. 

Getting friendly insights

A good way to understand how HIPAA compliance works are to compare their practice with other similar organizations. Although each organization has differences in their policies and procedures, they can look at best compliance practices, guidance, and articles from healthcare associations and industry leaders to gather valuable insights. It helps organizations to learn how others learned from their mistakes and rectified the problem. 

Dividing big projects into manageable tasks

A HIPAA risk assessment is a continuous process that should be conducted periodically and whenever there are changes to an organization’s PHI or ePHI. In the beginning, an organization will need to construct an assessment process that works best for their organizations while learning all the applicable rules. HIPAA Ready helps organizations from being overwhelmed by allowing your organization to break down large projects into smaller manageable tasks. HIPAAReady’s customizable digital checklist allows users to add and schedule tasks and track progress whenever required. By managing a digital checklist of tasks your workflow can be streamlined more efficiently. 

HIPAA Ready – All-in-one compliance platform

Besides HIPAA risk assessments, HIPAA compliance has applications in multiple dimensions. With HIPAAReady, your organization will be able to simplify compliance processes and reduce administrative burden. We combine all seven important HIPAA compliance management modules in one single platform – making it a robust HIPAA compliance software.