Business Associate Agreement is Available from Atlantic.Net
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When healthcare companies sign up for a HIPAA-compliant IT environment with a cloud hosting service, that outside organization is acting as a business associate according to the guidelines of HIPAA. In order to legally work with that organization and still follow the stipulations of the Act, medical businesses must sign a contract with the service (as with any outside party serving in a similar role) called a business associate’s agreement (BAA). Many companies do not understand why they need a BAA and what exactly is involved. Here, below, are the details.
First, a brief review of HIPAA and its primary component parts allows us to place the business associate’s agreement in context.
The vast majority of healthcare companies must abide by the parameters of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), an Act passed by the United States Congress in 1996 that safeguards American citizens’ health data. The data that falls under the auspices of the law – as governed by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) – is designated, collectively, as protected health information (PHI).
PHI is typically handled by covered entities. Organizations in that category include healthcare providers, healthcare plans, and healthcare clearinghouses. Examples of each type of HIPAA-compliant organization are as follows:
Any of the above organizations necessarily handle PHI as a central responsibility of their business. The Privacy Rule and Security Rule of HIPAA require covered entities to protect patient data from loss, theft, or any other misuse.
A covered entity can choose to work with a business associate, outsourcing certain aspects of operations to a trusted third party. In order to appropriately place responsibility into the hands of the external organization, both companies must agree to the terms of a BAA. By signing the agreement, the business associate agrees to safeguard PHI and to perform its obligations to the covered entity within the guidelines of HIPAA.
A Business Associate's Agreement, or BAA, is an legal agreement between a covered entity and a business associate that defines the parameters for the business associate's use, handling, and protection of, and responsibility for, patient health information (PHI).
According to the HIPAA guidelines, a BAA must do the following (as discussed by healthcare video-conferencing company SecureVideo in a 2013 article):
According to The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), there are two different types of organizations that must ensure compliance: covered entities and business associates. Atlantic.Net™ falls into the latter category, a third-party entity contracted to handle ePHI (electronic protected health information).
In order to both comply with the law and assure our clients that we’re committed to keeping their information safe, we’ve drafted up a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement, or BAA. BAAs are a type of HIPAA-Compliant documentation that is critical to our relationship with healthcare firms and medical practitioners alike, as it firmly establishes the legal parameters for our use of ePHI. The following three components are central to this contract:
In conjunction with our SOC 2 TYPE II and SOC 3 TYPE II certified data center, our BAA documentation shows that we’re committed to keeping the private healthcare information of our clients both safe and secure. Moreover, BAAs show that we’re willing to go beyond the minimum standards of compliance established in HIPAA. Healthcare organizations that choose us as a host have the peace of mind that can only come from knowing that they’re partnered with a veteran - and one that’s completely committed to their best interests, at that.
For more information about our HIPAA Business Associate Agreement or to request a copy of our agreement, please contact us today!
This page was updated on February 5, 2019.
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