Temptations in HIPAA Compliance: Beware the ‘Easy Button’

You may recall the Staples “easy button” commercials from the early 2000s. It seems the lure of the easy button is still all around us. Whether it’s hacking our way to hyper-productivity, getting rich quick or the magical weight loss pill to melt fat, we are promised immediate results. And the appeal of instant gratification can feel hard to resist.

In the healthcare IT world, we see a similar theme when it comes to HIPAA – or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Medical practices are getting solicited for “easy button” audits with the promise of a quick and easy solution to a sometimes-difficult problem. Maintaining HIPAA compliance while managing a busy medical practice is a challenge for any organization. Top that with fewer resources and a smaller budget due to the nature of a smaller practice and the desire for an easy button becomes tremendously tempting.

Contrary to popular belief, managing the requirements of HIPAA won’t hinder your practice. Although HIPAA can be complex and overwhelming, it can provide a framework for running your practice while simultaneously reassuring your patients that their data is secure.

For instance, if you hire a new employee, HIPAA tells you how often you need to provide him or her with privacy training. HIPAA also can help streamline administrative functions and improve efficiency in the healthcare industry. And finally, HIPAA also ensures multiple safeguards are implemented to protect patient privacy.

So Why the Easy Button?

To put it simply, time is of the essence. You’re managing the practice and the staff, working hard to increase patient satisfaction, trying to keep up with regulatory constraints, dealing with finances and being pulled in multiple directions.

Then maybe you receive a postcard in the mail explaining that by paying a single lump sum of money, you can get your medical practice audited to stay compliant with HIPAA! And voilà – a quick and easy solution!

We get it. It’s tempting to say the least. But, we are here to tell you there’s another way to ensure compliancy that will save you more time and more money down the road. It all starts with a trusted IT provider who understands your healthcare environment.

3 Key Things to Consider Before Agreeing to a HIPAA Audit

  1. Remediation should be included. Don’t allow your IT provider to give you an audit and walk away without making any physical changes in your organization.
  2. Onsite interviews and risk analysis should be a part of the compliance process. Audit trails cannot be done remotely; it’s imperative to have an IT professional onsite walking you through every step of the process.
  3. Becoming HIPAA compliant is an action. Getting a HIPAA audit is merely a report. An accurate end-of-year assessment must include tasks that should have been done throughout the year. The follow up is the most important part of the audit.

Be Like A Turtle: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

The hallmarks of a successful change model include a focus on the long-term with small steps along the way. That magical weight loss pill is not going to cut it and neither is the one-stop-shop audit for your healthcare practice.

Acknowledging that the way to HIPAA compliance is performing ongoing tasks – monthly audits, training, reviews, etc. – may be concerning. But, by working with a trusted IT provider who understands the critical nature of your systems, these ongoing tasks to stay compliant are attainable and worth the investment.

If your business is at risk after attempting to resolve compliance with an “easy button,” don’t be afraid to find new support. Staying HIPAA compliant does not have to be difficult or expensive.

For more information on how Tekmanagement supports healthcare practices to remain compliant, you can contact us online or by phone at 541-779-4777. You can also read testimonials from our valued clients here.