The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) has outlined the information that must be protected by individuals and professionals that have access to it. Although not all law firms typically deal with patient information or EHRs on a daily basis, there are times when they will come into contact with information protected under HIPAA. If you find that your practice frequently reviews EHRs or PHI, then it could be a good idea for your law firm to ensure it is compliant with HIPAA.
What Does HIPAA Compliance Require of Your Law Firm?
HIPAA does have provisions for business associates such as law firms that come into contact with protected information. According to the law, business associates are responsible for information insofar as privacy, security, and breach notification requirements. Although they have a legal obligation and a duty to their clients, most law firms are not prepared to protect the information they obtain. Typically, they lack the cybersecurity capabilities or the knowledge of HIPAA to ensure they remain in compliance. Both of these issues can be swiftly ameliorated by working with the proper managed services providers.
What Elements of Your Law Firm Are Most Important to Protect?
As mentioned, law firms labeled as business associates are required to provide privacy, security, and breach notifications under HIPAA. How can a law firm stay prepared to deliver these outcomes? First, it is critical for law firms to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their system by performing a security audit. A third-party auditor that is HIPAA compliant would serve just as well.
The results of the audit will make suggestions regarding the law firm in several ways. Most often, increased security will be the primary change required for HIPAA compliance. Administrative safeguards, updating network access credentials, limiting the number of people in contact with EHRs, and threat monitoring should all be implemented to ensure only the required people have access to this valuable data from an internal perspective.
For external threats, cybersecurity audits should lead to new readiness plans, increased network security, and various plans to detect and thwart malware. Providing security internally and externally prepares a law firm for dealing with the unique challenges posed by being trusted with data covered by HIPAA.
Obtaining HIPAA Compliance for a Law Firm
Compliance with HIPAA is mandatory, but there are several means to get into compliance with HIPAA. The easiest is to work with a managed services provider like WheelHouse IT. The company can perform HIPAA compliance and security services, bundling your needs into one package. That way, your law firm can have the current status of HIPAA compliance examined by experts and then fix the issues as they’re discovered. This is the simplest, safest course to ensure compliance.
More law firms are discovering that they should be compliant with HIPAA in the present day. While many of them do not possess the tools to handle patient data, it’s possible to quickly and easily update the systems in one’s firms. Managed services can bring a firm into compliance and secure the internal and external elements of the organization, allowing it to operate with confidence. Find out if your firm needs compliance with the HIPAA Compliance for Law Firms Checklist from WheelHouse IT.