A key consideration for your organization’s human resources department is adherence to HIPAA laws. HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which requires that businesses should take safeguards to maintain the confidentiality of all electronic medical records. This law aims to ensure that employees can switch their healthcare insurance providers and maintain their medical records without losing their coverage. So, why should your HR care about HIPAA compliance?
It Helps Them Know What the Privacy Rules Protect and What They Don’t
When putting a security system in place to protect health information, HR managers need to know rules are designed to protect and the information that isn’t covered under the guidelines. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, HIPAA protects health plans and medical records that are generated by employer-sponsored health plans.
HR should note that the rules do not cover your employees’ general records, even if the records include information regarding their health. The rules also do not affect the privacy of the information you might have in an employee’s file.
Creating Knowledgeable Employees
It is the role of your human resources department’s to make sure employees know what their rights are under the Privacy Rules to help avoid accidental violations of HIPAA. For instance, an employee’s supervisor could request the employee for a doctor’s note.
However, the supervisor should not go directly to a healthcare provider for information about the employee unless the employee has explicitly given their authorization for access to their health records.
Creating a Security Management Process
When designing your organization’s HIPAA safeguards, there are three objectives that your HR and IT departments must confront. These objectives are maintaining the integrity of health records, ensuring that only authorized individuals access records, and ensuring that any information that your company has is kept confidential to your organization.
Because your HR managers know the roles that everyone in your company plays, they can easily provide information to your IT team for implementation. As a result, it is easier to control data access and create security rules to improve your business’ compliance posture without complicating the roles of employees.
Designating a Responsible Person
HIPAA compliance requires that your human resources department designates a security official responsible for all protected employee health information. This role needs some technical expertise but is essential if you are to adhere to the current HIPAA laws.
In many cases, the best person to handle this role will is someone working in the HR department. They should understand how to interact with the rest of your employees due to the training of their human resources. This security official should also communicate with the IT department to set up a secure system that determines who may access individual records.
Maintaining Accurate Transcripts of Medical Consultations
Accuracy of medical information is a crucial aspect of HIPAA compliance. However, due to the semi-formal nature of patient-doctor conversations during consultations, and the unwillingness of many doctors to take their own notes, you will often receive an audio recording of the proceedings.
Companies that offer radiology transcribing services and other forms of medical transcription can take the burden of listening to recordings and trying to playback what is most important from your HR. IT teams by providing a text transcript. However, you should engage a HIPAA-compliant transcription company that will keep the recordings and transcripts secure to help you avoid potential legal issues.
To Ensure Continuous Compliance
HIPAA compliance for your business is only temporary. Although the initial stages of compliance are the most challenging, your responsibilities do not end there. Your HR should work in tandem with your IT team to ensure continuous HIPAA compliance. This must include improving business security policy and procedures, setting security notifications, yearly training of your workforce, and onboarding new employees.
HIPAA compliance should be a team effort with HR at the core. This is because they can influence your organization’s security policies, employee onboarding, training, and organizational culture to embrace compliance with privacy laws.
You might expect your IT teams to take full responsibility for HIPAA compliance. Still, you cannot ignore the role that the rest of your employees play in ensuring HIPAA compliance. Since your HR is at the core of employee management, they can bridge the gap between your workforce and the IT compliance functions.