HIPAA compliance is an ongoing battle for healthcare organizations of all types and sizes. As with anything complicated, it’s always prudent to get it doubled checked by a professional. When it comes to compliance at your organization, that means an onsite HIPAA audit.

A HIPAA audit examines how your organization maintains compliance with each facet of the most up to date HIPAA regulations, which can be invaluable in helping you determine your compliance, and potential liability for fines and other penalties. But how can you be sure it’s right for you? The best way is to consider the pros and cons.

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The pros of a third-party HIPAA audit include:

  • Outsourced HIPAA management: By having a third-party audit your compliance, you remove that task from you and your staff’s workload, freeing up time to focus on other parts of your healthcare organization.
  • Objective expertise: As opposed to an internal audit with your own staff, a third-party auditor is objective and knowledgeable. Simply by their nature, the auditor will be better prepared to find errors and omissions in your
    compliance.
  • Enhanced patient data security: Given how closely tied compliance and security are, the audit will also help you shore up your protective measures, helping to keep patient data safe from cybercrime.
  • Valuable resources: When you choose your external auditor, make sure to find one that will provide you with a summary report of their findings, and a risk management plan to help you address any issues in how your organization complies with HIPAA standards.

However, HIPAA audits aren’t cut and dry; while they certainly provide a number of benefits, they also come with their share of cons, which include:

  • Results lack longevity: Given how often your healthcare organization likely changes in order to keep up with new trends in the industry, the results you get from an audit won’t apply for very long, which means they will have to be addressed quickly, and then reconsidered
    on a relatively short timeline.
  • It takes time and money: Depending on the size of your healthcare organization, it will take time to find the right auditor for your needs, and can cost anywhere from $5,000 – $100,000 to pay for the audit. However, you should weigh this cost against the potential costs of a data breach, or HIPAA
  • You can’t just leave it to the auditor: Even though a third-party audit is less work than an internal audit, you’ll still have to explain your infrastructure, policies and procedures to the auditor in order for them to do their job. What’s more, once the audit is complete, you’ll have to invest more time and money in executing their recommendations, or else let the initial costs go to waste.

So, is a HIPAA audit a worthwhile investment for your organization? In the end, you’ll have the consider the following:

  • Your size: The smaller you are, the less viable a full, third-party audit is for you. It’s more likely that a Guided HIPAA Compliance process is more suitable.
  • Your budget: You’ll need to get a quote based on the size and complexity of your organization before you can accurately budget for an audit.
  • Your knowledge and experience: If you happen to be a security expert, or have one on your staff, then a HIPAA audit may not be necessary. However, the reality is that it’s unlikely you’ll have someone who’s both that experienced and that up to date with the latest HIPAA regulations and modern security trends to fulfill that need.

Need help figuring out if a HIPAA audit is right for you? Reach out to VITECH right away at (800) 536-2156 or info@vitechpros.com for an expert consultation.

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