What Is HITECH Compliance? Everything You Need to Know
At least 88% of ransomware attacks target the healthcare industry. These security issues lead to health data breaches that cost $6.2 billion a year to fix.
HIPAA laws attempted to keep patient data secure, but they weren’t able to do enough as information moved online. That’s where the HITECH act stepped in.
HITECH compliance is essential for any health provider and their business partners who work with patient information. It’s the best way to keep patient information secure and avoid severe legal consequences.
The laws aren’t always clear on how to stay within these essential guidelines or why they’re so important. Read our HIPAA and HITECH act compliance guide to learn the steps you need to take.
What Is HITECH Compliance?
There are several things you must know before you can maintain HITECH compliance. You must understand what it is, how it relates to your business, and what it requires.
HITECH is an acronym that stands for Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health. The HITECH Act was established in February 2009 as part of the ARRA or American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The purpose of HITECH is to expand the regulations of HIPAA or the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act. It protects EHR or electronic health records from breaches or improper usage.
HITECH compliance requirements are similar to those outlined in HIPAA law but more comprehensive. The law takes what HIPAA began with, adds a few more requirements, and increases the penalties for failing to meet them.
HIPAA HITECH Act Compliance Checklist
There are several steps to maintaining HITECH compliance. The most important are HIPAA compliance, partner regulation, EHR management, and notification of breaches.
HITECH adds another level of responsibility. Third parties that managed EHR are also responsible for privacy and security breaches.
In order to ensure that health providers and their partners work together to protect patient information, partners must sign a BAA or Business Associate Agreement. Failing to do so could lead to serious fines.
The HITECH act requires every organization to perform regular audits. These help ensure they’re maintaining HIPAA and HITECH compliance in everything they do.
Another important part of maintaining HITECH compliance is ensuring that you have certified technology for managing your EHR. It must be able to keep patient data secure and allow them to access an electronic copy of their PHI if they request it.
If you do notice a security issue, the Notification of Breach requirement states that you must make it known to the public. This allows it to be fixed as soon as possible and minimized the damage from any compromised records.
When PHI or patient health information becomes exposed, you must notify patients. In severe cases affecting 500 or more patients, you must also notify the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
You should also do everything in your power to remediate any security or information breaches. A proper IT team will get your electronic systems up and running securely as soon as possible.
Being HITECH compliant also means being HIPAA compliant. Instate policies such as risk assessments, remediation, response teams, disaster plans, and IT support.
HIPAA and HITECH Compliance Violations
Maintaining compliance helps you maintain customers. They’ll trust you knowing you’re protecting their data.
84% of patients feel their medical records are safe from prying eyes. 66% get concerned when these same records are exchanged electronically. Following HIPAA and HITECH laws can help ease these fears.
Maintaining compliance also prevents you from facing severe penalties such as fines, court battles, and criminal convictions. Knowing the potential consequences you may face helps you see why it’s so important.
There are several types of HITECH act compliance violations. It all depends on the severity and level of negligence involved. They can be classified as either Tier One, Tier Two, Tier Three, or Tier Four.
Tier One is the least severe type of violation. It occurs when organizations unintentionally break HIPAA and/or HITECH compliance laws. The rules can be complicated, making this one of the most common types.
Tier Two violations occur when due diligence could have prevented them. These include instances of an organization knowing all the relevant laws but failing to take the proper steps.
Tier Three violations involve willful neglect that’s corrected within 30 days. The provider made a mistake but showed they were willing and able to fix it.
Tier Four violations are the most serious type and have the most severe potential consequences. They involve willful neglect with no effort to correct the issue.
Doing anything that puts patient information at risk could keep you from maintaining compliance. Know the law to protect yourself from any legal issues.
Fines and penalties for failure to maintain HIPAA and HITECH compliance vary depending on which tier the violation falls into.
Minimum fines can still be costly. They range from $119 for Tier One, $1,191 for Tier Two, $11,904 for Tier Three, and $59,522 for Tier Four.
Potential penalties for non-compliance have risen in the last few years. The maximum fines are now $58,490 for Tier One, Tier Two, and Tier Three, and $1,754,698 for Tier Four.
Time in jail or prison is a possible consequence of failing to maintain HIPAA and HITECH compliance. This could include a year in prison for Tier One offenses, 5 years in prison for Tier Two offenses, 10 years in prison for Tier Three offenses.
The best way to avoid any of these potential consequences is to maintain HIPAA and HITECH compliance. You must constantly evaluate every part of your organization and make sure it meets all the standards that the laws set up.
Where Can I Get Help?
Maintaining HITECH compliance begins with maintaining HIPAA compliance. Do everything you can to keep patient information safe and stay up to date on the law.
The HITECH Act includes additional rules to ensure that patient information is as safe as possible. These include breach notifications and expansion of responsibility to the partners of health providers.
Maintaining HIPAA and HITECH compliance isn’t always easy because it requires keeping up with a changing set of laws, but you don’t have to do it alone. Browse our HIPAA compliance services and contact us today for more information.