HIPAA Series #8: The Importance of HIPAA Audits

HIPAA Audits

HIPAA audits ensure you meet the HIPAA regulations related to preserving the security and privacy of Protected Health Information (PHI). These audits reduce the chances of non-compliance and the resulting fines. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, OCR has settled cases worth $142,663,772. You can avoid paying such hefty penalties with regular HIPAA audits.

In this article, let’s explore the importance of these audits and tips to get the most out of them.

Components of a HIPAA Audit

A HIPAA audit thoroughly examines your organization’s adherence to HIPAA guidelines. Most audits involve the following aspects.


Your organization must have a process for reporting breaches and sending the required notifications to the affected patients. Moreover, the existing policies must adhere to the Breach Notification Rule laid down by HIPAA.


Documentation is an essential part of HIPAA as it provides a trail of your activities, and acts as proof of your compliance. Clear documentation for your policies, procedures, and business associate agreements can come in handy to contest any fines.

Security and Privacy Controls

The HIPAA audit will evaluate your physical and technical controls that safeguard PHI. It could include physical controls like biometric access to your server rooms and technical controls like encryption and multi-factor authentication that prevent unauthorized users from accessing your information.

On-site Visits

In some cases, OCR auditors may visit the organization’s site to observe practices, interview staff, and verify that policies are followed. It’s also a good idea to hire internal or specialized HIPAA auditors to check if your processes align with the established rules.


A report is created at the end of every audit. Whether done by the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) authorities or private HIPAA auditors, the final report will contain a detailed list of findings and the areas of non-compliance. Some reports will also suggest corrective action as required.

Corrective Actions

Based on the findings in the report, you can decide on corrective action to fix the identified gaps. These actions could include updating policies, improving security measures, training programs, and more.

Thus, these are the important components of a HIPAA audit. As you can see, these elements require time and resources and can prove to be expensive as well. Should you focus on streamlining HIPAA audits?

Benefits of a HIPAA Audit

The obvious benefit of HIPAA audit is that you can identify the compliance gaps and take necessary actions to fix them. These measures ensure that you never go out of compliance, and can avoid the costly fines that come with non-compliance. Besides this cost saving, here are other reasons to do a HIPAA audit.

Build Trust

When you follow HIPAA guidelines, you are demonstrating your commitment to protecting the privacy and security of your patients’ data. In turn, this creates a sense of trust in your stakeholders’ minds and they are more likely to do business with you again.

Boosts your Security

HIPAA is largely concerned with protecting PHI from unauthorized access, and you will have to implement security controls. Such measures can positively impact your organization’s overall security posture, protecting you from data breaches and the resulting loss.

Increases Bargaining Power

When HIPAA-compliant, you have better leverage when negotiating contracts with your business associates. Moreover, you lead the way and expect anyone who does business with you to follow high standards of security and privacy. All these enhance your brand image, leading to improved business outcomes.

Transparency and Accountability

By choosing to become HIPAA compliant, you establish a culture of transparency and accountability, where every employee clearly understands their roles and responsibilities. This understanding boosts their morale and productivity and can build a sense of belonging to the organization.

Due to the above benefits, more companies go beyond just checking the compliance boxes. Rather, they take a proactive approach to reap the benefits of HIPAA compliance.

10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Audits

Below are ten proven tips to help you successfully meet HIPAA compliance and gain the many benefits that come from it:

  1. Engage the leadership and keep them apprised of progress.
  2. Conduct regular internal audits to identify and fix issues before the official audit.
  3. Provide continuous training programs to ensure all employees understand HIPAA and their roles and responsibilities.
  4. Review and update your policies to meet the changing needs.
  5. Maintain detailed records and a thorough documentation of all activities.
  6. Regularly assess potential risks and mitigate them as they occur.
  7. Leverage technology to ease your process.
  8. Stay on top of any potential regulatory changes.
  9. Take help from HIPAA experts to help with compliance.
  10. Create a response plan for mitigating the findings.

Thus, these are some tips for getting the most out of your HIPAA audits.

Final Words

In all, HIPAA audits are essential to ensure you comply with HIPAA’s guidelines and avoid the associated costs and penalties. However, meeting the mandatory HIPAA guidelines also provides other benefits you can leverage for better business outcomes. In this article, we looked at the benefits and components of HIPAA audits, followed by actionable tips. We hope this information helps you gain the benefits of HIPAA compliance.

Lavanya Rathnam

Lavanya Rathnam is an experienced technology, finance, and compliance writer. She combines her keen understanding of regulatory frameworks and industry best practices with exemplary writing skills to communicate complex concepts of Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) in clear and accessible language. Lavanya specializes in creating informative and engaging content that educates and empowers readers to make informed decisions. She also works with different companies in the Web 3.0, blockchain, fintech, and EV industries to assess their products’ compliance with evolving regulations and standards.

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