As a health organization, it’s your responsibility to adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). You also need to have HIPAA-compliant file sharing standards to ensure that patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI) remains secure.
Your healthcare organization can’t operate without sharing files, but common data sharing solutions such as Google Drive are not HIPAA-compliant on their own – and there are severe penalties for HIPAA non-compliance that you should know about.
HIPAA was enacted in 1996. Before then, there was no blanket set of security standards for protecting PHI in the health industry.
Today’s clinicians use an array of digital applications, electronic health records (EHR), and computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems to manage patient care. Each of those systems potentially risks the security of PHI, which is why HIPAA requires federally enforceable standards to protect sensitive patient information from being shared without the express consent and knowledge of the patient. In the context of data transmission, those federal standards take the form of the Security Rule.
It’s critical that healthcare organizations and businesses use HIPAA-compliant file sharing services to create, receive, transmit, and maintain PHI records. Using a non-compliant service can lead to HIPAA violations, which are costly and damaging.
HIPAA includes the Security Rule, which applies to electronic-protected health information, or e-PHI. All organizations in healthcare that transmit e-PHI must:
Using a HIPAA-compliant file sharing service ensures that the Security Rule is met, while services that aren’t HIPAA-specific leave e-PHI vulnerable to unsecure transmission.
HIPAA protects all individually identifiable health information, or health information that can be linked to a specific person. That can include any of the following:
Keeping this information secure is important for many reasons, including that several pieces of a patient’s file can lead to discrimination or be pieced together to perpetrate fraud. Your organization must be careful to comply with HIPAA rules for your own sake as well as that of your patients.
Not all companies or groups must comply with HIPAA-related security rules, so it’s important to know if yours needs to. The following organizations are subject to HIPAA compliance:
The penalties for HIPAA non-compliance range widely depending on the incidence. Penalties are determined by an investigation into the nature of the non-compliance, the consequences of the incident, the organization’s compliance history, and the level of negligence that resulted in the incident.
There are four tiers of penalties that vary based on the level of culpability, each of which includes a minimum and maximum penalty. These penalties are issued by the Office for Civil Rights. They include:
If criminal intent is found, there are additional penalties. Criminal violations can also result in jail time. For instance:
You may face criminal penalties if your violations are discovered to be willful, under false pretenses, or with the intent to sell or use personally identifiable health information for personal gain. In addition, the State Attorney General can fine violations for an additional $100 to $25,000 per incident, which does not count against the maximum penalty from the Office for Civil Rights.
You can ensure HIPAA compliance by choosing a secure data sharing platform that puts the Data Security requirements into use. That includes:
It’s critical to your compliance efforts that you choose a data sharing solution built for HIPAA security requirements. Most file sharing services are not compliant, though, so be sure compliance is explicitly stated. As we’ve outlined in detail above, using a non-compliant service to share data can lead to severe penalties.
That’s where Cocoon is different. Our secure data sharing platform is built for healthcare and HIPAA-compliant file sharing, including:
This unique combination of features lets Cocoon users conduct internal audits without the need to involve a third party – which automatically lessens the number of people seeing and accessing sensitive information.
Sharing files is a necessary part of operating as a modern healthcare organization, making it more important than ever to invest in a HIPAA-friendly data solution, like Cocoon Data.
Our unique security features and user-friendly design make it ultra-simple to share and access files securely. We ensure you can operate smoothly with the data you need to share and receive, without the risk of a costly HIPAA violation.
Don’t wait to invest in a better solution for safe and secure data sharing. – contact Cocoon today to learn more about our HIPAA-compliant file sharing platform.
Aug 17, 2022