The right compliance consultant can help you avoid fines and bring new clarity to your HIPAA and HITECH program.

As the demand for greater efficiency and better healthcare outcomes continues to grow, healthcare providers have started outsourcing a wide variety of functions to trusted external partners, including medical billing, claims processing, IT support tasks, and a variety of other business processes.

But what about HIPAA and HITECH compliance support? With the risk of fines and catastrophic reputational damage looming, should healthcare companies feel good about working with a partner to help them address the sensitive issue of ePHI handling and management?

There are upsides and potential downsides to working with a compliance partner.

The Benefits of Working with a HIPAA and HITECH Consultant

There are some very compelling upsides to working with an external HIPAA compliance consultant, here are some of the most notable ones:

Relieve Internal Workloads and Clarify Compliance
HIPAA consists of many controls in five broad categories: administrative, technical, physical, organizational requirements, and policy requirements. The dense text of HIPAA would be a challenge by itself, but HIPAA gives each organization the freedom to interpret those controls however they deem most appropriate, which can cause additional uncertainty.

An outsourced HIPAA compliance partner brings clarity to HIPAA and HITECH compliance, while allowing your staff to focus on high-value tasks.

Working with a HIPAA partner removes ambiguity and uncertainty

  • Uncover compliance gaps or areas of non-compliance your team may have missed
  • Recommend software and tools suited to achieving strong HIPAA compliance
  • Clarify HIPAA’s addressable requirements throughout your organization
  • Address unique or rare compliance issues with decisive confidence

Maintain Long-Term Compliance with Confidence
Smaller healthcare organizations that don’t have a chief compliance officer, or other dedicated HIPAA staff, not only have a hard time achieving compliance, but they also have a hard time staying compliant with HIPAA and HITECH as their technology evolves.

The problem is that modern networks are highly dynamic. Every day, new users and data are created, new mobile devices connect to your network, employees change jobs, health care records get deleted, and more.

To maintain compliance as your network evolves is a time-consuming task that benefits greatly form outside assistance.

Here are some of the ways a compliance partner can help you maintain long-term HIPAA compliance

  • Conduct regular audits of your network, processes, and business associates
  • Maintain regular security and compliance training schedule for doctors, nurses, and staff
  • Update hardware and software to close security loopholes
  • Maintain robust audit trails for accountability and digital forensics

Did you know that HIPAA is undergoing its first major update in 7 years? If you haven’t prepared for the update, now is a good time to take proactive steps to stay ahead of those changes. 

Streamline Your Compliance Costs
If a healthcare provider decides to hire internal compliance staff, they face significant expense. The average salary for a Chief Information Security Officer is $166,993 a year, but that’s far from the only cost associated with HIPAA compliance. Other expenses include the development of a risk management plan, regular vulnerability scanning, occasional penetration testing, and more.

At the same time, the cost of not achieving HIPAA compliance is even higher — it can sometimes be catastrophic.

The average HIPAA compliance fine is significantly higher than it was just a few years ago, with the per-record cost of a breached healthcare record $146 in 2020, for example. With per-record fine increasing, it’s no surprise in the last years we’ve seen providers pay out some the biggest HIPAA fines ever.

  • Premera Blue Cross settled for $6.85 million after over 10 million records were exfiltrated
  • CHSPS LLC, a management company settled with the Office of Civil Rights for $2.3 million for failure to protect 6 million patient records, in addition to paying $5 million to the attorneys general of 28 states in a multi-state class action suit.

Curious to learn more? We wrote an in-depth article on what defines a HIPAA violation.

Many outsourced compliance partners like Complete Network offer virtual chief information officer (vCIO) services that provide the compliance expertise and engineering man-hours you need to stay compliant, for a flat monthly fee that makes budgeting easy.

The Dangers of Outsourcing HIPAA and HITECH Compliance

Working with an external compliance partner is often the best and most reliable route to HIPAA compliance for small and midsized healthcare providers, but there are potential pitfalls with the arrangement as well.

Some of the problems that can occur when you work with the wrong HIPAA consultant

  • Compliance service that degrades the operational efficiency of your organization
  • Cultural misalignment or miscommunication between your team and the consultant
  • Inefficient escalation of critical tasks or issues through the external team

To avoid these pitfalls, you’ll need a partner who can ensure full-chain compliance with HIPAA and HITECH. That means working with a consultant who has strong internal security, but also one whose sub-contractors and team are all in lockstep with regards to your big-picture strategy and needs.

Some of the signs of a trustworthy compliance consultant include the following:

  • Policies and procedures for each stage of the consulting engagement
  • Staff that are trained in HIPAA, HITECH, NIST, and other compliance frameworks
  • Clear lines of communication to responsive, knowledgeable support staff
  • Consistency, transparency, and full auditing and reporting capabilities

Also important is that the consultant has a robust vetting process for all downstream contractors, like Complete Network does.

With over 20 years as a HIPAA consultant, we’ve developed a curated list of trusted cloud computing platforms, backup and disaster recovery vendors, and cybersecurity service providers, so that our healthcare clients can feel confident that their ePHI is always in good hands.

Learn more about how we approach HIPAA consultant engagements.

The Right HIPAA Compliance Team for Small and Midsized Healthcare Providers

Healthcare organizations in Albany, New York, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Bluffton, South Carolina have all relied on the Complete Network team to offer the expertise and insight they need to approach both HIPAA and HITECH with confidence.

Is your organization struggling to take control of compliance? Reach out to our HIPAA experts any time with your questions at [email protected] or 877 877 1840. We’re always happy to help!

How To Supplement Your Internal IT Team.

In an ideal world, technology would be a consistent source of competitive advantage and benefit for small and midsized businesses. The reality is that many fail to realize that confidence.

Without the right resources and support, even a highly skilled technology team can become overwhelmed by the growing list of technology management duties. When important tasks get neglected, it creates ripple effects throughout an organization that damage productivity and efficiency.

The co-managed IT services model solves these problems by providing your existing IT team with all the support and resources they need to successfully plan, manage, and defend your network technology.

This guide covers:

  • • Aligning technology with business goals
  • • Reducing churn while preserving institutional knowledge
  • • Empowering your staff to maximize productivity
  • • Achieving the highest level of cybersecurity defense

Download it for free by filling out the form here.