You may know already that eSOZO is a full-spectrum IT services provider. What you may not know is that we can also act as a reliable HIPAA compliance officer – or, at least take the place of one, allowing you to forego the human resource investment in having one as part of your staff.
A HIPAA compliance officer (HCO) monitors their organization’s compliance with federal and state HIPAA rules and regulations. HCO’s are responsible for researching available resources and implementing a total compliance program that addresses the privacy, security, and general compliance concerns of their organization. Communicating any organizational updates to policies or procedures in response to changes in regulatory requirements should be central to the HCO’s role in maintaining total compliance throughout their (or their client’s, in our case) entire organization.
Below, we’ve listed some of the key responsibilities that compliance officers should be expected to maintain.
HIPAA Compliance Officer / Tech Support Strategist Duties
A HIPAA compliance officer should routinely monitor state and federal HIPAA regulation. As new regulatory requirements come up, a compliance officer should work to proactively modify their organization’s HIPAA compliance program to accommodate these changes.
Once an HCO has implemented changes to their organization’s compliance program, they should communicate any changes in policies or procedures with other departments within the organization. By maintaining a current working knowledge of applicable regulatory guidelines, the compliance officer should act as a resource for compliance concerns raised throughout the organization and coordinate with the appropriate departments to design and analyze the impact of any process changes required by HIPAA regulation.
An HCO must demonstrate a thorough knowledge of applicable privacy and security solutions in order to develop a thorough HIPAA compliance program. The HIPAA compliance officer should monitor and document progress towards the successful and timely implementation of an organization’s compliance program.
HIPAA compliance officers should create a system that allows them to monitor the status of their organization’s HIPAA compliance. This system should allow the compliance officer to easily set priorities for their organization’s compliance program and to review the documented status of prior implementations in departments that have been most significantly affected.
A HIPAA compliance officer should develop training material and courses to help employees understand new HIPAA regulation and how it will impact their organizational duties.
The Function of the HCO
The HCO’s responsibilities include monitoring the regulatory requirements under the HIPAA law, creating HIPAA privacy and security programs and introducing policies promoting compliance. The officer is the liaison to the departments in his organization and educates the department heads and managers to implement compliance.
He or she aids departments in preparing legal documents and forms. When departments are out of compliance the officer makes contingency plans for medical information that may include information backup plans, disaster recovery, emergency mode, operation plans and applications for critical information analysis.
The HIPAA officer also provides training (as eSOZO can) and relevant information for privacy and security. The officer submits training and other reports related to compliance. When independent contractors provide medical services to an organization, the HCO verifies that they follow all privacy regulations as Business Associates.
The government does not take the protection of your sensitive medical and health information lightly. So much importance has been placed on your privacy that HIPAA was born. Out of the HIPAA regulations, which overall work to assure the safety and privacy of your information, came the role of the compliance officer, or HCO for short.
Among the HCO’s main tasks (not necessarily directly covered by an eSOZO compliance-security expert, but who can advise upon) are:
- Building and developing the practice’s compliance program.
- Staying current on changing state and federal laws. For example, an HCO may participate in local or regional workshops or webinars that keep people up-to-date on new regulations.
- Preparing the notice of privacy practices and other written documentation of the compliance program.
- Conducting internal and external audits to evaluate employee compliance procedures.
- Handling patient requests relating to health records, such as corrections or needed access.
- Responding to inquiries from staff or patients about HIPAA policies or procedures.
- Conducting training sessions for staff and employees regarding HIPAA requirements.
- Investigating complaints about breaches or violations.
- Screening employees and contractors for potential compliance sanctions.
- Building a reporting system for handling noncompliance concerns.
- Implementing corrective action for compliance shortcomings.
- Reporting regularly to leadership and administration.
The HCO as Data Storage and Technology Specialist
Who would you rather trust with your electronic protected health information (ePHI) – one who is more oriented to organizational bureaucracy, or one who inherently understands best practices for technology use, data storage and management, and compliance standards for multiple industries?
We’re not saying hospital administrators and medical office managers can’t handle the basic duties of an HCO. We are saying that you could have technology management experts skilled in the various areas of compliance requirements as pertain to data management and storage best practices – and for a surprisingly low monthly, all-inclusive fee.
As solution-focused managed service providers in New Jersey, we bring more one-on-one, client-specific strategies to the table, that fit each unique customer’s requirements, including:
- Alert remediation of network and cyber security
- Iron-clad data backup and disaster recovery services, and business continuity planning.
- Help to migrate to the cloud, or with more resilient cloud services (e.g. Security as a Service).
- Microsoft support on multiple MS platforms (Exchange, Skype for Business, Office 365, etc.)
- Full compliance support and training for your staff, and much more.
Get Your HIPAA Compliance Expert and IT Manager All in One
eSOZO is a leader among IT managed service providers working for smaller business enterprises and healthcare organizations who want to optimize their computer-networking productivity and stay in full compliance, so call us at (888) 376-9648 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a HIPAA compliance officer and IT management specialist in one package!
Author: Aaron White, Date: 28th October 2017
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