Every business that falls under the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is required to assign someone to the role of HIPAA compliance officer. So, what does this mean for your business? It means that you legally have to have this role fulfilled, but there’s a lot of flexibility in how you want to do this. You can either designate an in-person employee to do this job, or you can outsource someone to fill this role. Overall, this person will ensure that your company meets and maintains HIPAA compliance at all times. This person is extremely valuable to the success of your overall operation, so it’s important to hire someone you trust and believe will succeed as a HIPAA officer.
HIPAA compliance officer duties
HIPAA compliance officers have a variety of responsibilities, some of which they handle daily, and some that are only necessary from time to time. These tasks may vary from one organization to another, but for the most part, the following are the duties a HIPAA compliance officer fulfills in their role:
- Create and maintain a HIPAA program at the practice to safekeep data. Enforce and oversee that these policies are being met at all times while ensuring that everyone understands the policies in place.
- Develop training materials and courses to train employees on the company’s HIPAA policy. If an employee works with PHI, they will need to undergo this training and have a full understanding of it.
- Conduct risk analysis from time to time. This is an important practice to ensure that HIPAA policies are being upheld and there aren’t any holes in the procedures.
- Write up and distribute a policy that details employees’ rights under HIPAA. Make sure the people at your company understand the policy and feel comfortable asking any questions that arise.
- Keep up-to-date on any HIPAA changes and additions. Add them to your policy as soon as they occur, and communicate with the employees at the company the changes that were made.
Who can be a HIPAA compliance officer?
As we mentioned before, any trustworthy, dependable person can become a HIPAA compliance officer. It’s up to you whether you want someone from your internal team to take on the role, or you’d rather hire outside of the organization. The person who you hire for this position should have good leadership and work ethic skills, including but not limited to:
- A strong ability to organize complex ideas and turn them into layman’s terms for employees.
- Attention to detail, both in the way employees are behaving and how information is presented.
- A degree or experience in the healthcare field.
- The ability to problem solve and mediate while encouraging collaboration among the team.
When it comes down to it, you need to use your best judgment when hiring the HIPAA compliance officer at your office. In the meantime, it’s important to know how to maintain HIPAA compliance at your healthcare practice beyond hiring a compliance officer.
Invest in HIPAA-compliant medical billing and coding software
First thing’s first: one of the simplest ways to maintain HIPAA compliance at your practice is by using HIPAA-compliant software. Software helps your billers adhere to HIPAA standards by encrypting data, setting up security measures such as access control and two-factor authentication, and more. If there’s one big investment you should make, it’s software. Data security is always something you should take seriously, and having sensitive data housed in a cloud format is much safer than in a physical format.
Conduct ongoing staff training
If your employees are directly working with sensitive data, they need to participate in regular training sessions. Training isn’t just valuable for new employees, it’s important for employees who have been with you for months and years, too. Since HIPAA regulations can always change, it’s crucial that you stay up to date with best practices and share them with your team. Training might not be everyone’s favorite thing, but it’s important and it’s a chance to forge better teamwork and collaboration.
Perform regular risk assessments
The best thing you can do to keep your company as secure as possible is attempt to poke holes in your procedures as they stand. Chances are, there are some things you can likely do better. Do a casual assessment of your employees and take note of their behavior—do they discuss sensitive information when they shouldn’t? Do they lock their computer when they get up from their work station? These are just a couple examples of things that should be done to maintain compliance. Pinpointing problems before they get out of control is crucial when you’re working with sensitive data. Take the time to do this at your company, and you’re in good shape.
Ready to find billing software that meets your needs?
HIPAA compliance is crucial, and finding a system that helps you adhere to those policies and procedures is a great way to set your business up for success. If you’re ready to start your software search, we’d love to hear from you. Book your free Claimgenix demo today to see our product in action!