HIPAA's Contingency Planning guidelines

Key Takeaway:

HIPAA has guidelines for meeting what should perhaps be the most important business requirement for healthcare organizations -contingency planning. These are aimed at helping healthcare organizations meet the core HIPAA requirement of ensuring integrity, security and privacy of Protected Healthcare Information (PHI).

HIPAA has a few important requirements and guidelines for contingency planning. These HIPAA contingency planning guidelines are a valuable guide to the healthcare industry. While formulating these requirements, HIPAA has based its thinking on the core aspects of risk management that most organizations in any sector would apply.

First, an understanding of contingency planning

Contingency planning is a crucial element of risk assessment. Contingency planning, as the term denotes, is the act of preparing the organization for emergencies, which can be of any kind. In management circles, contingency planning is often referred to as "Plan B".

When organizations develop a contingency plan, they have to take several important factors into consideration. The most important points they need to keep involves thinking about

  • What could likely happen?
  • How do we plan to tackle these emergencies?
  • How do we prevent these?

Applying the principles of risk management to HIPAA contingency planning guidelines

HIPAA contingency planning guidelines tailor these parameters to the healthcare industry. This is done keeping in mind its core intention of ensuring security and integrity of protected health information (PHI) and electronic protected health information (ePHI).

HIPAA contingency planning is the pioneer of standards relating to PHI, since before these, none of their kind existed. HIPAA contingency planning requires electronic health information security to define, document, and demonstrate ability, reason, and objectivity. This is the bedrock of HIPAA contingency planning.

HIPAA contingency planning has come out with these guidelines/requirements, which consist of these six fundamental components, which healthcare organizations are required to implement in the following sequence:

While these constitute Parts 1 to 5 of the Contingency Planning Process; further to these, Part 6 has more elaborate standards for meeting HIPAA contingency planning guidelines. Broadly, these are explained under:

  • Assessment of the business impact analysis and risk
  • A plan for disaster recovery
  • Implementing the disaster recovery plan
  • Testing of the disaster recovery plan
  • Execution of the disaster recovery plan
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