Site icon Specialty Answering Service

List of 14 Companies HIPAA Considers Business Associates

List of HIPAA Business Associates

The most constant aspect of life is that it’s always changing, and when things change, you have to adapt right along with it. Ironic, isn’t it? Most of the time, change happens for the better, but it does come with some stipulations. If you’re a medical professional, then you’re well aware of HIPAA and how it changed the entire medical industry. If you’re not aware of HIPAA, then pull up a chair and allow us to explain.

What is HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, better known as HIPAA, is a law that was created in 1996 to help regulate and protect the personal health information of patients.  The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, better known as HITECH, has it’s roots with HIPAA. Some other offshoots of HIPAA include PHI (Protected Health Information) and BAAs (Business Associate Agreements). Essentially, these laws and requirements make it so that doctors or other medical professionals cannot pass your information through unprotected systems making the data vulnerable to prying eyes. With Specialty Answering Service, we understand how important it is for our clients to maintain HIPAA compliance, so we’ve changed our method of doing things as well.

Since the start of HIPAA, medical professionals all over the country have had to completely change how they run their practice to make sure they are adhering to the appropriate guidelines. Tasks that seemed so routine before, like inputting data or filing records, now have to be handled delicately to insure the patient information stays protected.  This means that if you’re using any companies to help in your day to day tasks, like answering your calls or shredding your documents, these companies also have to follow the same rules to insure they are not leaking any private data. HIPAA defines these companies you use as “business associates”, and all of these 3rd party business associates would need to enter into a Business Associates Agreement in order for your practice to maintain complaince.

Business Associates Agreement

A Business Associates Agreement is another offshoot of HIPAA, and is another protection mechanism in place making sure your patients’ health information stays protected. Whenever you do business with a 3rd party, that party needs to adhere to HIPAA even if they themselves are not in the medical industry. A business associate could include any person or company that produces, receives, communicates or maintains protected health information (PHI) on behalf of a covered entity, like a health care provider.

Once this agreement, or contract, is signed (by both parties), you are able to disclose private information without any violation. However, if your 3rd party associate breaks the contract, you could also be held liable for their actions. For example, if you sign a BAA with a medical lab, and they happen to disclose information to an outside party that’s not on the agreement, you could be held accountable. Before you enter into an agreement, you should always consult with a lawyer so you know exactly what you’re agreeing to. If both parties aren’t on the same page, it may lead to fines (which can cost over a million dollars per violation), loss of business, damage to your reputation, and/or lawsuits.

Running any office is complicated, but running a medical office comes with it’s own set of hoops that you have to jump through on a daily basis. To try and make your job a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of vendors below that a medical professional may partner with, and why you would need to make sure you’re covered with a BAA:

Not Every Company You Work With is Considered a Business Associate

Sometimes you may work with vendors that might not need to be regulated under HIPAA, and therefore would not need to sign a BAA. The vendors listed below may not need to enter into a BAA with you, however, please check with your lawyer to make sure:

These examples are just a few of the many types of business associates a medical professional may partner with. No matter how many or how little business associates you have, it’s always important to make sure everybody’s up to code. When you stay current on HIPAA regulations, you can insure that all of your patients’ health information stays protected. Happy patients equal more business and more business equals happy medical professionals. Everybody wins!

Exit mobile version