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3 Essential Elements Of A HIPAA Policy and Procedures Template

Every organization that handles Protected Health Information (PHI) has to comply with HIPAA. But compliance is far from easy: you need the right resources on your side to make compliance as painless as possible. A HIPAA policy and procedures template is a great tool for getting your organization on the same page—no matter their role or department.

While a policies and procedures template sounds like yet another task to add to your to-do list, it’s far better than the headaches that come with HIPAA fines. Learn how a policies and procedures template protects your business and the 3 essential elements your template should include.

What is a Policy and Procedures Template? 

HIPAA is vague on purpose; it gives you the freedom to implement the rules as you see fit. But that leaves a lot of things open to interpretation. How do you know if you’re doing everything correctly?

You need solid processes in place to ensure your compliance. Upfront planning, like creating a policies and procedures document, will make compliance much easier.

However, it isn’t enough to create policies and procedures just once. HIPAA requirements, your business model, and your patients will change over time. That’s why you need to consider your HIPAA policies and procedures as a living document that’s always evolving.

Because it’s always changing, you need a standard that helps you update elements of your policies more quickly. After all, who wants to completely rewrite their policies and procedures every time there’s a change to HIPAA?

A policy and procedures template gives you a pre-approved structure and essential elements to kick off the writing process. This internal document is a great tool for helping your team quickly iterate its HIPAA policies without hours of formatting headaches.

3 Sections to Include in a HIPAA Policy and Procedures Template

A template will help you preserve essential elements required by HIPAA. It also gives you the freedom to drop in new sections, add requirements, and rephrase your language as needed. Every organization’s HIPAA template will be different, but it’s a good idea to include these 3 sections. 

1. HIPAA Security Rule Requirements

Created in 2004, the HIPAA Security Rule accounts for a large chunk of HIPAA requirements. The Security Rule provides standards for physical, technical, and administrative safety:

  • Physical: Create a section in the document just for your physical security policies. This might include how you grant access to your facility, mobile device policies, or video recording policies. 

  • Technical: This is the most important component of the HIPAA Security Rule. Technical requirements include self-audits and risk assessments from an IT standpoint. This should also include your policies on encryption, passwords, and security response in the event of a breach. 

  • Administrative: How does your organization handle HIPAA compliance? This section of your policy and procedures template should touch on risk management, employee training policies, and your policies for disciplining employees for HIPAA violations. 

2. HIPAA Privacy Rule Requirements

To address HIPAA Privacy Rule requirements, include a section in your template that spells out how your organization uses, shares, and discloses patient information. This should include copies of your policies and forms, like:

The Minimum Necessary Rule is a part of the Privacy Rule that you need to address in this section of your template. Write policies that show you’re making a “reasonable effort” to limit access to patient data. Detail how you do access control, encryption or tokenization in this section. 

This isn’t required by HIPAA (yet), but you might want to include a social media policy in the Privacy section of your template, too. Spell out how you use patient information on social media, which forms of information are prohibited, and how you hold your team accountable for safe social media practices. 

3. HIPAA Breach Notification Rule Requirements

The Breach Notification Rule requires you to report breaches to patients and, in some cases, to police and the media. This section of your template should go into detail about how your organization responds to threats. You’ll need to include information on: 

  • The types of breaches (major or minor) that could happen to your organization

  • What you’re required to report based on the type of breach

  • Who reports the breach, to what party, and on what timeline 

Don’t let a breach catch you by surprise. This section of your template not only helps you satisfy HIPAA requirements but it also helps you design a playbook for any potential breaches

Templatize Your HIPAA Compliance

Your HIPAA policy and procedures document is a helpful internal resource for standardizing compliance in your organization. But there’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time there’s a change to those policies. Just set up a solid policy and procedures template ahead of time to make future iterations a breeze.  

Keep in mind that your HIPAA policy and procedures template is just the tip of the iceberg. You likely need to comply with other requirements, like HITECH, HITRUST, or SOC 2, to stay on the right side of the law. Automate compliance policy generation for fewer headaches with Datica: get a demo now to see how it works.