HIPAA compliance reporting is one of those tasks that needs to get done. If it is missed for even one month, you stand an increased chance of missing an essential control. Before you know it, you might have a significant problem on your hands in the form of fines and negative publicity. Such issues still happen today even though HIPAA Compliance requirements have been around for years. The solution is to build proactive steps that detect compliance data security and privacy control shortcomings fast.
HIPAA Compliance Reporting: Which Method Will You Use?
There are several ways organizations approach HIPAA. Some take the view that compliance is everyone’s responsibility and provide resources accordingly. On the other end of the spectrum, there is the specialist approach of assuming that one or two compliance officers can manage these responsibilities. In addition to the degree of centralization, there is also the question of using automation and repeatable processes vs. attempting to build everything on your own. Each organization will take its own approach to these questions.
However, we can all agree that HIPAA compliance reporting needs to have a centralized and comprehensive approach. For example, a university hospital might have research projects, an emergency department, a nursing unit and other groups. All of these units will produce health data in the course of doing their work. Further, many will need to access health data from other groups to achieve their objectives. With so much data flowing through the organization, HIPAA compliance expectations may become lost in the pressures of delivering research and caring for patients.
Asking each group and department to prepare its own local HIPAA compliance report will not work. This work needs to be done on a central level. There’s just one problem to face. Collecting, verifying and analyzing this quantity of compliance data is tough! You might be questioning whether it is even possible to complete it in a full day of work, let alone an hour.
The Three Phases of HIPAA Compliance: Get Faster and Better at Every Step
To achieve the dream of fast and easy to use HIPAA compliance reports, you will need to go on a journey.
1. Compliance Control Definition: Creating Indicators and Metrics
Before you can measure results, you need to establish meaningful measures. For example, a necessary measurement of HIPAA Compliance would typically include the following measures:
- PHI Collection and Storage Reviews. Collecting health data is often required to treat patients and carry out other health care functions. With this indicator, measure the frequency of reviews over the safeguards protecting the data.
- User Access Reviews Completed. What percentage of managers have completed their monthly user account reviews? If this number is low, you are probably out of alignment with the principle of least privilege.
- HIPAA Compliance Training Coverage. What percentage of staff have completed the required annual training course?
If your organization is at an earlier stage of compliance maturity, your compliance controls and metrics may look different.
2. Compliance Data Gathering Optimization
If you are spending hours every month or every quarter collecting data on HIPAA compliance, the reporting process will be painful. Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be that way. There are a few ways to save time in gathering compliance data for each report.
- Use a sampling methodology. Measure different systems and departments of your organization each reporting period. A random approach means you can assess the organization in a reasonable amount of time.
- Limit the use of manual data sources. Any time you gather data manually, including by email and meetings, represents a speed bump in your process. To address that situation, use automated tools like surveys and IT security software to gather data.
- Develop checklists to reduce errors. Gathering together data points more than once as a result of errors or data integrity issues is a significant contributor to delays. To prevent these problems, develop a checklist summarizing the most common errors. Checklists are already used by surgeons, airline pilots and other professionals to improve their performance.
Tip: Regularly question your compliance reporting data. If a given data point is no longer meaningful and nobody asks for it, consider deleting that data from your report. Reducing irrelevant data points is one of the easiest ways to expedite the reporting process.
3. High-Performance HIPAA Compliance Reporting
By this point of development, you will be able to achieve the dream of completing a report in one hour per week. By leveraging automated data collection systems, you will be able to focus most of your time on analysis. Once you have achieved this level of compliance reporting, you will have more time available to pursue proactive measures. Simply following HIPAA minimum requirements is required. If you want to win patient trust to a higher level, consider applying additional safeguards to your data and privacy controls.
Tip: Add an “industry developments” section to your HIPAA compliance report so your stakeholders can easily keep up with new issues at other hospitals.
Software Tools To Simplify Your HIPAA Compliance Further
Running compliance reports will reveal whether or not your organization has problems. However, a compliance report does not close the gap. If you regularly discover significant gaps in your processes, implementing piecemeal solutions or reprimanding staff to do better is not going to solve the problem. For example, consider the data security requirements of the law. Systematically enforcing these expectations with IT security software is nearly impossible!
To ease your workload, use the following cybersecurity software tools. Install Compliance Auditor so you can review and detect access management problems quickly in moments. From an IT management perspective, Compliance Auditor makes your life much more comfortable. Instead of checking multiple systems to review user access, everything you need is in one place.Next, install a technology solution that makes it easy for employees to get new passwords 24/7. By installing Apollo, nurses, doctors, researchers and other health care employees can obtain password resets whenever they need it. By using Apollo, your IT security team will free up a few hours of work time each week to take on more strategic work.