How to maintain HIPPA compliance on a budget
Health care is known to be an expensive industry; Cutting-edge healthcare and cutting-edge R&D programs are incredibly expensive. The United States is estimated to spend 17% of GDP on health care. It’s about $ 12,000 per capita. With these astronomical numbers, is it possible to be profitable in an industry as heavily regulated as America’s healthcare system?
Where is HIPPA applicable?
HIPAA covers privacy and security regulations requiring strict security measures for hospitals, physicians, and other organizations such as health insurance and health maintenance agencies that store or process private medical information associated with individuals. HIPAA defines the rights of people who are the subject of medical records. Therefore, organizations that keep such records are required to disclose these rights in writing.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was introduced and enacted on August 21, 1996 by President Clinton and has become part of the Social Security Act..
The costs were incurred because healthcare professionals had to hire compliance officers to oversee the correct implementation of the confidentiality rule safeguards. Two other immediate costs were also to be paid: first, the introduction of complex technical IT solutions to meet the expected technical guarantees of HIPAA, and second, each employee was required to complete a HIPAA training program to learn more about HIPAA compliance.
Naturally, this added an additional financial burden to the industry, putting medical professionals under additional pressure. However, it is important to stop and think about what the cost of not complying with the law could cost. In addition to endangering the privacy of their patients, the real financial costs would likely be much higher in the event of a breach. The price would include the applied penalties introduced in the 2013 final omnibus rule, and the potential for loss of business and damage to reputation.
Penalties are severe if an organization is in violation, fines imposed range up to $ 58,490 for minor violations (per violation), up to $ 1,785,651 (per violation) for the most serious level 4 violations . Healthcare practices should weigh the costs of implementing HIPAA compliance against the potential fines for violation. In any situation, paying to professionally implement HIPAA compliance is the cheapest option. (Also read: Data Breach Notification: The Legal and Regulatory Environment.)
Meeting compliance regulations in any industry will require investment, but cost reduction initiatives can reduce expenses without impacting data integrity. Costs will vary depending on whether the organization chooses to implement entirely new IT systems and business processes, only the minimum requirements, or something in between.
The Costs of HIPAA Compliant Administration
In 2003, the introduction of the confidentiality rule raised serious concerns about the excessive cost of implementing the law, costs which would be passed on to the patient. Some of the requirements require a larger workforce working solely on compliance.
The privacy gap analysis and risk assessment required are just two of the important administrative requirements introduced, each taking months to complete and semi-annual reviews required. Any new process needed to be documented, peer reviewed and regularly updated, additional policies created and implemented, and then training provided to staff to enforce confidentiality rules.
An effective solution to the inevitable costs is to hire a specialist HIPAA consulting firm. The logistics of maintaining a compliant medical practice can make life difficult for busy healthcare providers, outsourcing this responsibility brings work experience and is often economical.
Outsource to the Cloud
Some vendors have saved money by outsourcing basic IT infrastructure like medical applications, databases, and IT systems to the cloud. Healthcare practices that keep IT infrastructure on-premises face the complex and costly challenge of designing, maintaining, and updating a rapidly evolving IT platform. (Also read: 8 Best Practices for Managing Cloud Applications.)
A cloud-centric narrative allows the budget to scale from capital expense (CAPEX) to operational expense (OPEX) with predictable monthly costs. Plus, there’s no added expense on expensive storage, networking, and server hardware … hardware that will depreciate the moment you unbox it.
Most healthcare companies already have a hybrid cloud model in place, core workloads are handled on-premises, but some services such as telephony, video conferencing, and office productivity suites are hosted in SaaS mode. . But for big savings, some suggest healthcare needs to move all production workloads to the cloud.
It’s a big job that takes careful planning, but you don’t have to do all the work yourself. Outsourcing to a managed service provider or HIPAA cloud hosting specialist can save you time and money. You will no longer be responsible for the cost of licenses, power, cooling and major data center installations, potentially allowing you to shut down expensive on-site computer rooms.
Ultimately, the responsibility for data security rests with the customer and the responsibilities for who does what and when are determined by contracts. However, additional cost-effective managed services can be taken, such as a managed backup and disaster recovery solution. A solution that will meet the requirement to archive and retain necessary patient information, as well as protect personal health data (PHI) from deletion or modification using encrypted backups from a source encrypted data.
Business continuity and disaster recovery services to maintain 24-hour access to PHIs are extremely expensive. Server hardware, synchronous network and storage capacities and licensing costs, rental of colocation facilities and a team to keep the platform operational 24/7 will cost tens of millions of dollars. . (Also read: SaaS Security: Pitfalls Often Overlooked.)
Save on technical engineers
Managing a HIPAA compliant infrastructure requires a team of 24/7 frontline staff and a large team of subject matter experts. IT salaries are some of the highest in the workplace, especially if you want to invest in the best employees. Again, by outsourcing this responsibility, your payroll is drastically reduced.
Plus, you get the day-to-day management and technical support relief for the entire platform. It is the vendor’s responsibility to keep everything secure and patched, and it is the vendor’s responsibility (and cost) to absorb expensive hardware refresh programs as the infrastructure enters end-of-life support.
Identity services, user accounts, access control lists, authorization management, and multi-factor authentication are some of the less obvious technical safeguards that protect your healthcare practice from substantial fines. Each of these services is expensive to implement, manage, and maintain if performed in-house, but from a HIPAA compliance provider, the services can be easily integrated.
Taking advantage of the recent relaxation of enforcement rules, on March 17, 2020, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued a statement stating that “Enforcement discretion and sanctions waiver for HIPAA violations.” were introduced. Healthcare professionals were first allowed to use third-party tools for telemedicine appointments, such as products like Let’s Talk, Apple FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Skype. Potentially save a lot of money in licensing while still providing more choice to the patient. Remember that these rules are temporary.
In short, there will be inevitable costs to be and stay HIPAA compliant. Unless you’re a medical startup, you’ll likely have HIPAA-compliant systems in place by now. The important step is to understand the effectiveness of this protection for your patient data and the total cost of ownership to implement this technical solution.
Monolithic hosting is so expensive compared to the cloud. You have all the infrastructure in-house under your control, but huge savings can be made by modernizing the infrastructure. Take your time to shortlist reputable HIPAA-compliant hosting providers, research what physical, administrative, and technical guarantees they can provide, then compare costs.
It’s not just about finding the cheapest hosting provider, although cost is always a practical consideration. You have to find the right balance between security, functionality and price. Cloud services can dramatically reduce your administrative costs and management load, increase efficiency with greater scalability, and also provide operational flexibility.