Tighter HIPAA Regulations May Require Some Pharmacy Shelving Upgrades

Posted by Robert Walthall on Wed, Feb, 25, 2015 @ 08:00 AM

shutterstock_122961331By now you should have implemented the new, more restrictive HIPAA regulations that took effect in September 2013. If you haven't and fail to do so, you could face significant fines. The future in pharmacy continues to evolve, and these and other developments, like the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, will continue to impact the industry.

These new regulations more stringently protect patient privacy and personal health information. You'll implement necessary protocols to ensure those protections, and as part of that you may need to invest in some new pharmacy shelving and fixtures that will provide more security.

What do the new HIPAA regulations mean for the future in pharmacy?

These new regulations really mean one thing: stricter controls for patient privacy. In other words, patients' health information, or PHI, must now be protected explicitly. Components you must address to be in compliance with this new rule include:

  • New requirements for patients' information access and privacy

Patients now have the right to restrict who sees their personal health information, and they must have access to their own files. If health professionals should need access to these files for patients or for other allowable reasons, privacy requirements still allow this.

  • Reporting of all security breaches

Under the new regulations, you must notify the Department of Health and Human Services if ANY breach occurs, unless disclosure of PHI is allowable under the privacy rule. Subcontractors and business associates will need to sign agreements that will be updated on a regular basis, and they must also comply with the HIPAA security rules.

  • Implementing physical safeguards for PHI and tightly securing devices
Any devices used to store PHI must be completely protected with various security measures when not in use. Portable devices like laptops and tablets should be locked away in places like pharmacy shelving and fixtures that are securable; you can keep locking cabinets behind countertops to lock portable devices containing PHI away from unauthorized access.
  • Restricting access to PHI

In addition, secure authentication and strict login procedures and protocols must be used to further protect PHI through carefully controlled and restricted access. Other changes to restrict access include centralized workstations and protocols implemented to eliminate, reduce, or use components that store PHI.

How can pharmacy shelving upgrades help you comply with HIPAA regulations?

  • Secure fixtures can help you protect patient health information

These new HIPAA regulations are a permanent part of the future in pharmacy, so it's worth investing in any new pharmacy fixtures that will protect PHI. Some of these include:

  • Components for centralized workstations

With workstations now required to be centralized so that it's simpler to strictly control personnel access, you may need to designate an area for that specific use.

Centralized workstations are important because they allow for careful monitoring at all times. It's much more difficult to either deliberately or accidentally cause a breach without being noticed. In addition, authenticated logins provide another layer of protection for patients' privacy and PHI access.

Privacy protections are a major concern now and for the future in pharmacy, thanks to HIPAA regulations that went into effect in September 2013. Fortunately, simple upgrades to your pharmacy workspace can help you create strictly controlled centralized workstations, and can also allow you to securely lock away any portable devices used to access PHI when not in use.

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Topics: HIPAA regulations

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