HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and it is one of the most significant pieces of health care related legislation to come along in quite some time. Passed in 1996, the HIPAA law is why you have to fill out those annoying little forms each time you go to a new doctor, and why you need your mother’s specific permission to chat with her doctor about her care.
On a more practical level, the HIPAA law helps to protect the privacy of patients and safeguard their medical information. Since the information concerning our medical care is among the most personal data imaginable, it is easy to see why a law was needed to protect it.
An Important Law for Patients and Caregivers Alike
The protection of medical information and patient data is certainly important, but the HIPAA law does present a number of potential complications for business owners, especially the owners of businesses operating in the health care, health insurance or technology spaces.
If the business you own has anything whatsoever to do with health care and health insurance, chances are you are subject to the strictures of the HIPAA law, and violating those regulations, even inadvertently could mean tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fines.
HIPAA Compliance for the Business Owner
That is why it is so important for business owners to make sure that the software, website or App they use to provide services to their clients is HIPAA-compliant. This includes any custom software like a website or mobile App. It is easy to think that all off-the-shelf software used in the health care and health insurance industries was written with the HIPAA regulations in mind, but that is not necessarily the case.
The code for some standard pieces of software was written long before the HIPAA regulations came along in 1996. That software was written to another, decidedly less strict and specific, standard, and may therefore not be rigorous enough to meet the formal definition of HIPAA compliance.
Software Writing in a Post-HIPAA World
Even if the software was written after the 1996 HIPAA regulations became the law of the land, it still may not be fully HIPAA compliant. If the software was not specifically designed for businesses subject to the HIPAA guidelines, the code may not fully capture the complexities of the law, leaving corporate users exposed to fines and other dangers.
Choosing an experienced HIPPA compliant programming company for designing or developing any in-house or client facing software is important for any business owner. Whether you are just getting started, expanding your firm’s capabilities into the healthcare field or assessing your risk, it is important to look at all the software you use and assess the HIPAA compliance of each one.
Custom Designed Software and HIPAA Compliance
HIPAA compliance is important for ready-made software, but it is perhaps even more critical for custom-designed software. Many businesses find that off-the-shelf software does not fully meet their needs, and they turn to custom software and professional coders to fill in the gap. This strategy makes a lot of sense, especially for businesses that deal with large quantities of data.
Custom software can make things like data mining easier, giving business owners new insights into what their customers want and allowing them to better serve the needs of those customers. The vast amounts of data available in the healthcare realm make the use of custom software packages all but mandatory, and it is vital that any resulting code be fully HIPAA compliant by design.
Choosing the Right Team
It is just as important that the creative team building those custom pieces of software be well versed in the HIPAA law. Like most pieces of legislation passed by Congress, few people, even the Congress members themselves, have actually read the bill from cover to cover. This lack of understanding can create problems for politicians, but for the businesses involved, it can create fines and penalties – and even rob business owners of their ability to compete in the healthcare space.
When you work with companies like SDI, you can rest assured that we are well versed in all aspects of the HIPAA law, from the origins of the regulations and the reasons for their existence to the complexities of its application. We understand how HIPAA works on paper, but we also understand how the legislation is applied in the real world, and that key piece of understanding can mean the difference between software that is fully HIPAA compliant and software that leaves dangerous coverage gaps and potential regulatory land mines along the way.
Many of the programmers at SDI are HIPAA certified, a designation that guarantees a unique level of training and expertise surrounding the healthcare regulations and its real-world applications. It should be noted that HIPAA is generally thought of as a healthcare industry regulation, but its implications go far beyond the world of health insurance. Many businesses, even those far outside the healthcare realm, may be subject to the stricture of the HIPAA law. At SDI, we understand the full implications of the HIPAA regulation, and we can help your firm navigate those sometimes difficult waters.
At SDI., we have many experienced designers and programmers that are HIPAA certified. When you work with SDI, you are working with individuals who understand HIPAA thoroughly, experts who can guide every step along the way and help you stay on the right side of this complicated patient protection law.
To discuss your HIPAA programming needs, call our specialists now at +1.408.802.2885 / +1.408.647.2206