Listen to the audio summary of our blog
How can schools implement FERPA and HIPAA regulations using EHR
As digital health records and electronic health monitoring and recording technologies transform public health systems, medical institutions, and schools, we need to address how to meet HIPAA and FERPA compliance standards set by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Selecting, adapting, and implementing a reliable documentation system for patient records is part of health information technology. When schools are using EHRs to capture their students’ health information, they must follow HIPAA and FERPA privacy rules for storing and transmitting personal data for billing or business purposes.
Continue reading to the end to gain a better understanding of how these federal privacy laws impact educational institutions and how to ensure compliance.
What do we know about HIPAA and FERPA compliance so far?
According to federal law in the United States, school health records are considered educational records. This means that a child’s right to privacy and access is influenced by the same regulations that protect educational records. When schools share (PHI) protected health information with these students, the HIPAA and FERPA act automatically apply to them.
When do FERPA guidelines apply to school health records?
FERPA protects the privacy of students’ records and information in school health records. The types of student records that come under FERPA are financial information, disciplinary files, student transcripts, and immunization and health records.
Parental consent is necessary under FERPA before records may be shared. The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act applies to all schools that receive finances from the US Department of Education, as well as those with which they interact.
When do HIPAA guidelines apply to school health records?
While FERPA applies to schools and educational institutions, HIPAA applies to healthcare. When a school hires external healthcare personnel who digitally shares PHI (protected health information) such as healthcare claims to a health plan for payment, they are subject to HIPAA.
When sharing student health information with the following authorities, schools must adhere to HIPAA guidelines.
- Organizations that present bills or are paid for healthcare in the normal course of business
- Clinical social workers
- Other medical and mental health practitioners
HIPAA-covered organizations that assist school-based health clinics could have the same student healthcare information protected by both HIPAA and FERPA. A hospital or health agency would be bound to follow HIPAA guidelines when retaining the same student’s health information.
How can FERPA and HIPAA be implemented in schools?
Under FERPA and HIPAA, schools must follow the guidelines that protect the privacy of student PHI records while transferring them electronically. According to these laws, schools are subject to multiple health record privacy and access requirements than doctors, clinics, and hospitals. To follow compliance, schools can implement EHR system like EduHealth.
Here are some of the major challenges addressed by implementing EHR in schools.
A collaborative care model demands secure sharing of student health data by physicians, counselors, athletic trainers, and other specialties. EHR software will help schools to facilitate collaboration in schools within a short period.
Workflows will be streamlined with the automation of routine administrative and nursing tasks when EHRs are implemented, enabling providers to see more patients and provide better care.
Manually verifying thousands of student immunization records and sending out reminders is tedious and time-consuming. This is something that EHRs can help address and solve because they provide a safe and dependable method of sharing and storing student health data with other allied health institutions and personnel.
Total student data security and privacy, starting with HIPAA/FERPA compliance, is essential. EHRs are a safe, compliant, and efficient medium for adhering to HIPAA and FERPA federal laws when using student PHI for treatment or billing.
What student records can be stored and shared under FERPA
The type of student records that requires compliance are the following.
- Financial information
- Disciplinary files
- Immunization & health records
- All personal information
- Student course history
- Student transcripts
According to FERPA, numerous requirements make compliance requirements necessary for schools to protect private student information. In any case non-compliance will result in hefty fines.
There is no formal retention time for student records, however, many state laws set retention restrictions. Temporary student records should be maintained for at least 5 years, even after the student no longer attends and permanent records need to be maintained for at least 60 years.
When can the school records be shared?
- With school administrators who have legitimate educational interests.
- To other schools where students will be transferring.
- To designated officials for auditing and evaluation.
- To third parties concerning student financial aid.
- In the event of a health or safety emergency, to health officials.
- In compliance with appropriate state law, to state local authorities in a juvenile justice system.
How Eduhealth helps schools implement FERPA and HIPAA regulations to keep confidential health information safe?
The key aspects that EHR systems like EduHealth help for implementing FERPA and HIPAA regulations are.
HIPAA-compliant features in EduHealth EHR
- Audit trails – Every action taken in EduHealth is recorded, as well as when the changes were made.
- Encryption – The data stored in the EduHealth system is encrypted, preventing the risk of unauthorized access by strangers.
- Access controls – EduHealth’s access controls ensure that only authorized personnel have access to students’ PII.
- Security – EduHealth is centered on the reliable Microsoft Azure platform. HIPAA requirements have been mapped to the well-established security frameworks and standards that CSPs follow regularly.
FERPA-compliant features in EduHealth EHR
- Record retention: – EduHealth stores students’ PII (personally identifiable information) in the cloud and complies with state requirements by retaining the information for as long as it is required.
- Robust security and protocols: With secure processes on the EduHealth platform, it protects students’ PII and avoids improper disclosure.
- Paperless digital health records: EduHealth’s access controls and security make unauthorized access to PII less likely.
- Security in information sharing: Data stored in EduHealth is secure and shareable only with authorized persons.
For schools who want to ensure compliance with HIPAA and FERPA
Schools are currently experiencing change; modern school electronic health systems are secure, HIPAA and FERPA compliant, and well suited to meet the myriad of challenges that school health administrators currently face. The EduHealth EHR system ensures that schools can document school health details while also adhering to various privacy laws such as HIPAA and FERPA.