Business associates are simply entities or even individuals willing to perform functions regarding the use of some protected data or personal information of the individuals or entities being covered. Some of these covered entities includes health care entities, health plans and health care providers among other entities.
Relationship between HIPAA and the business associates:
The HIPAA rules therefore are meant to apply on all these business associates without any compromise. However, there other privacy rules put in place to safeguard private information and cases in which they can be accessed by third parties. This therefore means that the various business associates are not allowed to get access to these information not unless their intention to do so is clarified and also the owner of the information has consent of access to their details by the third parties. If given the chance to use the information, then the business associate has to give assurances on whether they will fully protect the information given.
These assurances however has to be in a written form for reference purposes. The covered persons or entities need not to monitor activities performed by the various business associates but just in case the business associates goes against the contract, then they can immediately terminate the contract and report the matter to the health department. This write up will look into more details concerning business associates as well as their responsibilities based on the HIPAA rules.
As mention earlier on, business associates acts on the behalf of a covered entity and this way ends up having an access to the patients details which they are held responsible for. Some of these business associates includes medical transcription companies, health information organization and third party administrators among other companies. These associates are responsible for processing of claims that are attached to various patients, conducting data analysis procedures and management of benefits meant for the patients which includes medical covers among others.
The HIPAA rules:
However in all operations conducted, the various business associates should always comply to the HIPAA laws. The rules are actually put in place to ensure that the business associates acts accordingly and if any violation exist then the actions are dealt with accordingly.
Some of the various HIPAA rules that the business associates agrees to comply with include;
- To use all possible safeguards to protect disclosure of a patient’s information in any other way that is not stated in the agreement.
- They must also report immediately to the covered entity if the protected information is disclosed to other parties.
- Using the protected information for reasons stated in the agreement and none other.
- If any subcontractors are involved in any way in the protected information they they as well have to comply to the HIPAA rules.
Changes on the HIPAA rules:
In the 2019 updates, the HIPAA rules have some changes on which the business associates are supposed to upheld security measures and the privacy rules regarding the individual’s information. The associates are also allowed to make investigations in any possible breach of the patient’s details and inform the relevant authorities if any occurs.
These changes will be useful in better handling of risks and even provide solutions on how to deal with possible breaches of the protected information. From these changes, business associates handling medical functions such as billing organizations, IT entities and transcription centers are meant to highly benefit.
It is very important that all business associates get in touch with the new changes and act accordingly to comply to the HIPAA rules.