How to Comply with HIPAA Massachusetts Laws

HIPAA Massachusetts

If you’re a healthcare provider treating patients in Massachusetts, you are likely wondering, what are HIPAA Massachusetts laws? While some states have their own privacy laws, some of which impose stricter requirements than HIPAA, Massachusetts is not one of those states. 

However, Massachusetts does have specific breach notification laws not outlined in HIPAA. Find out more about Massachusetts HIPAA laws here.

HIPAA Massachusetts: What Are Your Obligations?

To meet the requirements of HIPAA regulations, healthcare organizations (healthcare providers, healthcare vendors, and MSPs) must implement a HIPAA compliance program. Most federal HIPAA requirements apply at the state level in Massachusetts as well.

Security Risk Assessments, Gap Identification, and Remediation

To be HIPAA compliant, it is crucial to identify where your deficiencies lie. To do so, healthcare organizations must conduct six self-audits annually. These self-audits uncover weaknesses and vulnerabilities in your security practices. To ensure that your organization meets HIPAA safeguard requirements, you must create remediation plans. Remediation plans list your identified deficiencies and how you plan to address them, including actions and a timeline.

HIPAA Policies and Procedures

To ensure that you meet HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification requirements, you must implement written policies and procedures. These policies and procedures must be customized for your practice’s specific needs, applying directly to how your business operates. To account for any changes in your business practices, you must review your policies and procedures annually and make amendments where appropriate.

HIPAA Training in Massachusetts

HIPAA imposes employee training requirements that are the same regardless of the state the healthcare organization operates in. HIPAA training in Massachusetts must be provided to each employee that has the potential to access PHI. HIPAA training must be provided annually, in which employees must legally attest that they understand and agree to adhere to the training material. 

Business Associate Agreements

Business associate agreements must be signed with each of your business associate vendors. HIPAA defines a business associate as any entity that performs a service for your practice that gives them the potential to access PHI. Common examples of business associates include electronic health records platforms, email service providers, online appointment scheduling software, and cloud storage providers. 

You cannot use any vendor and be HIPAA compliant. They need to be willing and able to sign a business associate agreement (BAA). A BAA is a legal contract that requires each signing party to be HIPAA compliant and be responsible for maintaining their compliance. When a vendor doesn’t sign a BAA, it cannot be used for business associate services.

Incident Management

To comply with the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule, you must have a system to detect, respond to, and report breaches. Employees must also have the means to report incidents anonymously and be aware of what to do if they suspect a breach has occurred.

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HIPAA Seal of Compliance

Massachusetts HIPAA Form

A Massachusetts HIPAA form is required under certain circumstances. HIPAA regulations outline the uses and disclosures of PHI that require authorization to be obtained from a patient/plan member before that person’s PHI can be shared or used. 

A HIPAA authorization form in Massachusetts is required before:

  • The covered entity can use or disclose PHI whose use or disclosure is otherwise not permitted by the HIPAA Privacy Rule
  • The covered entity can use or disclose PHI for marketing purposes. If the marketing communication involves direct or indirect remuneration to the covered entity from a third party, the authorization must state that such remuneration is involved.

The law requires that a HIPAA release form in Massachusetts contain specific “core elements” to be valid. 

These elements include:

  • A description of the specific information to be used or disclosed.
  • The name or other specific identification of the person(s), or class of persons, authorized to make the requested use or disclosure.
  • The name or other specific identification of any third parties (persons or classes of persons) to whom the covered entity may make the requested use or disclosure.
  • A description of each purpose of the requested use or disclosure. 
  • An