MOST RECENT | March 1
HIPAA Compliance Solutions: Software vs Consultants vs D.I.Y.
A comparison of the different approaches to achieving and maintaining HIPAA compliance.
If your job requires that you work with protected health information (PHI), it’s essential that you follow federal HIPAA law completely.
But doing so is not as simple as following a few guidelines and going about your work.
As the manager of a healthcare practice or other entity that deals with PHI, maintaining HIPAA compliance can cost you time, money, or both. Not maintaining compliance can cost you even more.
So how can you ensure your business is operating within the guidelines set by HIPAA while streamlining other processes within your organization at the same time?
HIPAA Compliance Solutions
When it comes to HIPAA compliance, you really have three options.
- -Bring your organization to compliance on your own, without any outside help
- -Hire a consultant
- -Utilize a guided HIPAA compliance software solution
Though maintaining HIPAA compliance is possible using any of these methods, using compliance software may be your best option.
But before we dive into why such software is so beneficial, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of your other options.
Option 1: Do-It-Yourself HIPAA Compliance
While maintaining compliance without any help from outside entities or software services can be done, it requires a lot of work on your end.
First of all, you’ll need to study and understand the nuances of HIPAA compliance and PHI mandates. This means digging through tons of documents and legalese, and being confident that you know exactly what it all means and dictates.
Then, you’ll have to create and implement specific policies and procedures to ensure that you and everyone within your organization adheres to the guidelines set forth in the documents mentioned above. Once these policies and procedures are in place, you’ll also have to train your staff accordingly. Additionally, you’ll have to create and implement risk assessments across the board within your organization. You’ll also need to determine in-house penalties or sanctions for those who don’t follow protocol.
You’ll almost certainly be working with agents outside of your own organization, as well. If you’ve chosen to manage everything HIPAA-related yourself, you’ll need to ensure your business relations with these outside associates and contractors stays compliant with regulations.
Advantages of DIY HIPAA Compliance
Those who choose to maintain HIPAA compliance without any outside assistance – and do it well – will have a solid foundational understanding of everything that goes into adhering to the law.
Since these individuals will have created their own policies and procedures regarding HIPAA protocol – and has trained staff members themselves – they can be confident that regulations are being followed throughout their organization.
DIY HIPAA compliance also has the potential to be less expensive, as you won’t need to pay a specialist or consultant to guide you through the process. However, when it comes to drafting legal documents, soliciting advice from an attorney is always recommended – which will result in unavoidable legal fees.
Disadvantages of DIY HIPAA Compliance
Maintaining HIPAA compliance on your own is a time-consuming venture. In addition to all your other duties as the manager of a PHI-related organization, you’ll have to keep on top of everything mentioned above. Depending on the size of your team and the scope of your operations, maintaining HIPAA compliance without any outside assistance simply might not be a viable option.
Additionally, there are many risk factors involved with DIY HIPAA compliance. Mistakes can be made during any stage of the process, resulting in major penalties for your organization. Depending on the severity of the impropriety, your business could end up spending more on fines than it would have hiring a consultant to ensure compliance.
Do-it-Yourself HIPAA Compliance Verdict
Though maintaining HIPAA compliance without any outside help is doable, it creates a ton of work for you as a manager. And, if there is a problem with your policies and procedures, any violations will end up falling squarely in your lap.
Option 2: Hire a HIPAA Compliance Consultant
As the manager of an organization that deals with PHI regulations, you might decide to hire an outside consultant to ensure HIPAA compliance at all times. These consultants will assess your organization to see what it’s doing well, as well as where and how it can improve operations with regard to compliance.
On your end, you’ll still have to do a bit of legwork before hiring a consultant and after they’ve assessed your organization’s situation.
Before you even bring in a consultant, you’ll want to know exactly what they can do for your business – for a number of reasons. You’ll want to have at least a ballpark idea of what the specialist will have to say about your organization, and be prepared to listen and adhere to the advice they give. Also, you’ll want to be able to assess the consultants in your area, so you can confidently hire someone who knows what they’re doing.
Once you hire a consultant, you’ll need to spend some time bringing them up to speed regarding your current methods of operations. You’ll want to apprise them of any issues you know need improving so they’re able to focus on finding solutions rather than simply assessing the problem. Of course, once they offer solutions to the major compliance issues your organization faces, you’ll need to implement these changes immediately.
Advantages of Hiring a HIPAA Compliance Consultant
A consultant can do a lot more for your PHI-related organization, in a much shorter span of time than you’d be able to do on your own.
Consultants are professionals who observe and assess your organization’s operations objectively. While you might overlook specific areas when assessing your own company, consultants will scrutinize every aspect of your organization equally.
As mentioned, consultants don’t just assess your organization’s HIPAA compliance – they provide methods of improving weaknesses within your procedures, as well. While it’s up to you and your team to implement the solutions a consultant provides, you can be confident that doing so will improve your overall compliance.
Hiring a consultant also helps you save time. Since the person you hire will likely be a seasoned HIPAA consultant, they’ll be able to assess your policies and procedures quickly and efficiently, allowing you to get on track toward compliance immediately.
Disadvantages of Hiring a HIPAA Compliance Consultant
While hiring a consultant is a much more efficient HIPAA compliance solution than maintaining compliance on your own, doing so also has its drawbacks.
You have to be absolutely certain the consultant you hire knows everything there is to know about HIPAA compliance. This requires extreme vetting on your end, which in itself can be time-consuming.
The consultant you end up hiring may end up not seeing eye to eye with you in terms of how you run your organization. The suggestions they provide might clash with your current procedures, which may mean you’ll need to overhaul your entire protocol.
Most importantly, consultants cost money. And they aren’t cheap. Generally, hiring a consultant will set your company back at least $10,000 – and that’s just an initial retainer fee. Depending on how much work needs to be done, you could be looking at spending a lot more.
HIPAA Compliance Consultant Verdict
Hiring a consultant will definitely save you time upfront, but it will cost your organization a good amount of money in the process. Also, if your practice is in severe need of change, you’ll end up spending a lot of additional time and money overhauling your system in the long run.
Option 3: Use Guided HIPAA Compliance Software
HIPAA compliance software like Accountable can be used to guide organizations through the process of becoming fully HIPAA-compliant, and can provide a number of services and and HIPAA-related information, including:
- -Employee training videos
- -Required policy and procedure mandates
- -Annual risk assessment analysis
- -Business associate agreement management
- -Resource library for continuing education
All of this – and more – is presented on an easily-navigable dashboard that you and your team can access whenever need be.
As manager, you’ll also have access to information regarding your team members’ compliance with policies and procedures. You’ll know which training videos they’ve completed, and can keep their risk assessment analysis files up to date.
Advantages of Using HIPAA Compliance Software
Simply put: Accountable HIPAA compliance software takes the guesswork out of becoming HIPAA compliant.
The software provides information regarding the implementation of HIPAA-required policies and procedures, as well as the ability to document that your organization has met these requirements.
It allows for quick and easy employee assessment and supervision, meaning you as the manager won’t have to spend valuable time looking over your team members’ shoulders.
And it comes with a wide variety of educational material regarding HIPAA compliance that you and your team members can access at any time.
Accountable takes 1/10th the effort of doing HIPAA compliance completely on your own, and is 1/10th the cost of hiring a consultant.
Disadvantages of HIPAA Compliance Software
Accountable is in no way meant to replace consultants, trainers, auditors, or assessors that specialize in HIPAA laws and regulations.
It’s not meant to be used as a band aid solution to major overarching problems regarding your organization’s HIPAA compliance.
And it certainly isn’t a magic bullet that will automatically bring your company into compliance without requiring your team to do any work.
If this is what you’re looking for, good luck! (And let us know when you find it!)
HIPAA Compliance Software Verdict
If you’re looking for an affordable, proactive way to maintain HIPAA compliance across the board within your organization, Accountable can help. Though the responsibility of bringing your company into compliance still rests on your shoulders, Accountable streamlines the process of making it happen. With Accountable, you can focus on actually becoming HIPAA-compliant without having to worry as much about the logistics, costs, and fear of penalties.
Though each of these options have their merits, Accountable is the clear choice for PHI organization managers looking to become HIPAA compliant quickly and efficiently, and without spending a fortune.
Check out a free demo of Accountable to see just how easy it is to implement within your organization today, and then signup for a free trial to give it a try.