Protecting Patient Information – HIPAA is Not Just for Hospitals Anymore

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We’ve known this day is coming, and it’s just about here. Certainly, if you work at a healthcare organization (HCO), or work with one, you realize it’s only been a matter of time.

“This day” refers to the Federal Government, which has issued new regulations saying it’s not just HCOs that must protect patient information in a way that complies with the Health Information Portability and Protection Act (HIPAA). A notice in the Federal Register says the new rules will take effect next month. Here’s the bottom line: it will no longer be enough for hospitals or doctors’ offices to say they’re protecting patient information in accordance with HIPAA regulations. Under the new rules, if you’re doing business with those hospitals or doctors, you have to make sure you’re in compliance as well if you’re coming into contact with any of that information. The government believes that most of the $166 million cost of implementing this new rule (yes, you read that right) will be borne by health plans.

Lexology.com reports that “for business associates not previously considered ‘covered entities’ under HIPAA, this change would impose far more extensive and costly privacy, security and breach notification requirements than before.”

Which means that if you’re one of those newly “covered entities,” you’d better be prepared to move quickly. 

At Windstream Business, we are an approved service provider for the Rural Health Care Program, and we’ve focused on meeting the networking needs of healthcare companies. For instance, our MPLS Networking Solutions provide a secure connection for healthcare organizations, ensuring patient data transmission is in compliance with critical regulations such as HIPAA. Ethernet Internet allows physicians to download and upload large data files, up to 100 Mbps, with dedicated Internet access, and Windstream’s Managed Network Security solution delivers comprehensive privacy protection against network-level and content-level threats, ensuring patient records are kept confidential.

We deliver the ability for our clients to network their remote and central locations together with the highest level of security while providing distributed access to patient records and other services. And as Electronic Health Records (EHR) are increasingly utilized, that capability covers not only traditional data, but also expanded functionalities like centralized messaging and voicemail, computerized physician order entry, and image archiving and retrieval, as well as information security services that help keep the network secure from prying eyes.

Of course, Windstream can do it far more quickly and at a lower cost for HCOs and other companies than if they try to implement such a system by themselves, starting from scratch.

It’s not just impending Federal regulations that help customers realize the benefits that Windstream Business delivers. But it does point out the various business drivers that companies must consider as a part of staying healthy while doing business.