The HIPAA rule directs all entities covered by 45 CFR 164. 308 to appoint a security officer who’ll oversee developments and ensure policies are implemented. This will, therefore, make sure that there’s integrity in electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI). Since the integrity of ePHI is an IT issue, IT managers are often assigned this officer role. But, these duties can be done by other individuals too.
30% of this officer responsibilities are IT related, the rest of his or her tasks include auditing, training, ensuring business compliance, among other things. He/she also provides facility security along with preparing disaster recovery plans.
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Duties of HIPAA Security Officers
These officers are in charge of designing policies to prevent, recognize, solve, as well as correct any breaches of ePHI. Before doing this, they should conduct risk assessments which incorporate all aspects of the Security Rule’s Physical, Administrative and Technical Safeguards.
After identifying potential dangers, an individual creates proper measures which ensure that vulnerabilities have been reduced and comply with 45 CFR 164. 306 (a). Then employees should be informed of any new policies and consequences of not following these laid out parameters.
HIPAA Security Officer Job Description
Although duties may vary depending with an organization’s nature and size, they all relate to maintaining compliant mechanisms, which ensures that the covered entity healthcare information systems are accessible, confidential and secured. HIPAA Security officers;
· Ensure establishment, management and enforcement of OCR issued rules and Security Rule safeguards.
· Investigate breaches of data then develop future prevention measures.
· Integrate HIPAA compliance, along with IT security within an organization’s strategies.
· Conduct risk assessments, primarily those involving business associates and other third parties.
· Take care of access control, disaster recovery, business continuity, as well as incident response issues.
· Ensure safety awareness among an organization’s staff; that also involves employee training with a privacy officer.
Finding an Ideal Candidate for This Role
While often IT managers are given this responsibility that is not very wise. That’s because the security managers’ duties vary hence need a person with some specific qualities to handle them. Candidates should have excellent organizational skills. They should also have an extensive understanding of HIPAA. It’s again essential that an individual knows which Entities are covered by computer systems since many policies set will impact the IT department’s operation.
Furthermore, it’s crucial that these officers work with Privacy Officer or Compliance teams in larger groups. Often, security and privacy roles overlap many times. During such instances, resources can be joined to help carry out risk assessments, ensure speedy compliance as well as efficient employee training. So, when these two officers work together, it ensures effective management of Business Associate Compliance.
Security officers should, therefore, be familiar with;
· ePHI- Electronic protected health information is any PHI that’s created, stored or transferred electronically. Individuals should be familiar with how ePHI is handled at their practice for them to develop an effective plan which ensures its security.
· Internal Auditing- as they monitor internal audits, these officers need vast knowledge on how auditing is done.
· Employee Training Program- Staff training programs are crucial in achieving health
insurance compliance. Again it’s among these officers’ duties. It is, therefore, paramount that someone understands and develops a useful program which is focused on informing workers about threats against ePHI.
Requirements of HIPAA Privacy Officer
Covered entities should additionally hire a HIPAA privacy officer along with a HIPAA security officer. For privacy officers, HIPAA mandates their requirements. However, an organization can merge these two roles into one depending on its size.
HIPAA Privacy and Security roles are somehow similar as they both conduct risk assessments, ensure staffs training, manage business associate etc. But, a privacy officer has an extra responsibility of protecting PHI in whatever format it is maintained. He/she does this by establishing, managing and enforcing compliant policies.
Outsourcing HIPAA Security and Compliance Software
Many organizations don’t give out this role to IT managers or other employees because of their current workload. In such cases, they outsource this person from third party compliance workers, who they place as interims until completion of risk assessments and implementation of policies or employ them on a permanent basis. If a group opts for the interim solution, it should make sure that they pick someone responsible for security compliance.
But, companies can again take advantage of compliance software. Compliance software suits all requirements covered by an entity hence help conduct risk assessment tasks, policy development, as well as training of employees. This alternative is especially best for those entities which don’t have resources to hire additional personnel or seek out compliance experts. Apart from being a cost-effective way of fulfilling the Administrative Safeguards of HIPAA Rule, it’s also very secure.