HIPAA Compliance and COVID-19: Adjusting Policies and Procedures in Response to the Pandemic

Because of COVID-19, the United States of America is seeing an increase in the practice of working from home, much like other nations.

The protection of a patient’s health information is absolutely essential in the telehealth and telemedicine fields since many healthcare professionals are now working remotely.

Employees who work from home, regardless of whether their employer is a HIPAA-covered organization or a business associate, confront particular security challenges.

Unsecured networks and unencrypted devices are more susceptible to intrusions and breaches. To manage HIPAA compliance properly, employees who work from home must be reminded of the Privacy and Security Rule.

In the U.S., telecommuting has grown by an astounding 115% over the past ten years. The number of people who telecommute is fast increasing as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, which has forced many workers to work from home.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has loosened its enforcement guidelines for violations of HIPAA standards for telehealth practices in light of the current Covid-19 national emergency crisis.

Nonetheless, telehealth care providers should remember that they are obligated to serve the general public in a trustworthy manner, which includes taking the appropriate precautions to safeguard patient information. To safeguard patients’ Protected Health Information while working from home, this article will outline a few essential precautions.

Take these necessary steps to protect your client’s PHI

Identifying and making a list of your remote workers, together with the quantity of information they have access to, should be your first and foremost action. Their behavior must be governed by your HIPAA Privacy and Security standards. The following checklist can assist telehealth professionals to adhere to HIPAA rules while conducting their business from home.

Outline the Privacy and Security Requirements:

Devices that contain PHI should not be used by family members, friends, or anyone else, according to employees.

Guidelines for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Provide specific usage guidelines in a BYOD agreement.

Workers must have access to a paper shredder at their workplace so that they can destroy paper PHI when it is no longer required. When it is OK to destroy paper records, the organization must make it clear.

Ensure sure staff members don’t copy PHI to any external media, including flash drives and hard drives that haven’t been authorized by the company.