As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the nation, the government, the healthcare system, and all other parties fighting it are trying their best to contain the situation and provide faster responses for better treatment. The situation is so unprecedented and grave that some HIPAA regulations have been relaxed so that responses are faster and better healthcare is provided to those in need. As the regulations keep changing, effective HIPAA compliance management is a must for any given healthcare organization, be it a covered entity or a business associate.

The latest update

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has made yet another change on April 9, 2020, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic – covered entities and business associates do not need to worry about HIPAA penalties regarding noncompliance using “good faith participation” of COVID-19 Community-Based Testing Sites, (CBTS). For the record, this is the fourth time a change has been made by the OCR as a response to the pandemic. The previous changes related to the usage of telehealth, first responders, and business associates. 

The latest change allows specific healthcare providers as well as business associates to actively engage in the operation of a CBTS. It can be mobile, walk-up, or drive-through sites, that are set up strictly to provide COVID-19 specimen or testing services to the general public.

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Why was it necessary?

This has been done to ramp up the testing speed and is an unprecedented move from the OCR – they are taking exceptional measures to help CBTS grow rapidly. This will facilitate the testing of more people quickly and reliably, as long as the participants follow the guidelines. According to the OCR Director, the President of the US, Donald Trump, ordered the use of any means necessary and any tools available to save lives during the pandemic, and that is why the OCR has made these changes.

Changes mean more HIPAA compliance management 

For those organizations operating a CBTS, they are required to use and disclose PHI as less as possible, specifically, the bare minimum required for treatment. For ePHI, secure technology must be used to record and transmit data. It is a requirement that individuals who visit a CBTS must be able to easily view the privacy practices if they want to. 

These are just some of the rules and regulations healthcare organizations wishing to participate in the operation of a CBTS are required to follow. All the rules can be found in the appropriate places, which just shows how complex HIPAA compliance management can be. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare organizations still need to ensure HIPAA compliance. Even though many HIPAA penalties are being temporarily waived to respond to the situation, these changes are also bringing in more conditions, like the one above. 

How to ensure proper HIPAA compliance management

There is no single key to ensuring HIPAA compliance accurately, however, you can simplify HIPAA compliance management. This is where HIPAA Ready comes in. It is a HIPAA compliance software that has been designed to streamline your processes regarding HIPAA compliance.

All the changes above as a response to COVID-19 need to be documented and you need to ensure that all your relevant employees are informed about the changes, and this is something you can easily do with this application. HIPAA Ready will list the policies and procedures required for your compliance, schedule training, and will keep all your documents, records, and checklists in one place. Install HIPAA Ready and ensure effective HIPAA compliance management.