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.
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.