Misconceptions about HIPAA compliance can leave dental practices wide open to data breaches, violations, and hefty federal fines. Since HIPAA regulation was introduced in 1996, its complexities have only become more intricate with additions and revisions; and this evolution can cause increased confusion. Check out our top 3 HIPAA misconceptions below!

1. “HIPAA training for staff means I’m HIPAA compliant.”

While this is an essential component of HIPAA compliance, it only addresses part of the regulation. A full HIPAA compliance program must include:

  • Mandatory HIPAA audits and risk assessments to assess the status of your compliance
  • Remediation plans to fix any gaps in your compliance
  • Policies and Procedures updated annually with employee training and documented attestation
  • Documentation of the entire compliance plan maintained for 6 years
  • Vendor management and business associate agreements before any health information is shared with vendors
  • Incident management to mitigate the impacts of a data breach and properly report the incident to HHS

2. “I’ve done my security risk assessment and have cyber-security measures in place, so I’m HIPAA compliant.”

A security risk assessment is important to protecting your practice and for CMS attestation. However, there’s a distinction between compliance and security. The two work hand-in-hand to keep your practice safe.

While security measures help keep your data secure and protected from hackers, documented policies and procedures are needed for full HIPAA compliance. An effective and documented compliance program streamlines the way your practice maintains privacy and security, and mitigates the potential for unforeseen breaches that may be caused by simple human error.

3. “My single-doctor dental practice doesn’t have the same HIPAA requirements as larger organizations and hospitals.”

HIPAA regulation applies uniformly to health care practices of all kinds, regardless of the size or medical specialty.

Still, the law does allow some grey area for exactly how these standards must be implemented. For instance, HIPAA requires that health care organizations secure their physical premises to prevent break-ins. Where an enterprise-level hospital may require security cameras, card-key based access, and a hired security staff, a single-doctor dental practice may be able to install a security system and put locks on their doors, and equally address the same requirements.

Get On the Right Track

The thing to remember is that HIPAA regulation sets standards that must be addressed, but it does not outline how these standards must be addressed. That gives your practice the freedom to find solutions that fit your means and needs.

If you’d like assistance setting up trustworthy compliance protections and documentation, we can help. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you implement proactive measures, safeguards, and safety redundancies for optimal HIPAA compliance.

Thanks to Joe from Compliancy Group for contributing this important compliance content.

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