Tips for HIPAA Compliance (Questions/Answers)
Need a little insight into strengthening up your HIPAA compliance efforts? Check out these 6 simple steps you can take to become more compliant and secure.
No one said HIPAA compliance was easy. It’s a higher level of security and data governance that healthcare organizations have to follow – if you’re looking for help with your compliance, check out the 6 tips below.
Working in the healthcare industry means more than treating patients. In addition to patient care, your practice’s staff also has to maintain compliance with complicated, regularly updated HIPAA regulations.
However, that’s easier said than done…
What’s the state of HIPAA Compliance and healthcare security?
To be honest – it doesn’t look good.
- 17,000 patient records are breached every day on average (HHS.gov)
- The healthcare sector accounts for 31% of all reported data breaches (EMC/RSA whitepaper, 2013)
- While 91% of healthcare organizations use the cloud, 47% of those are not confident in their ability to keep that data secure (Ponemon survey, 2012).
So what can you do?
If you’re even a little unsure about your HIPAA compliance, or the level of security you offer your patients and their data, what steps can you take to do better?
Try these tips…
6 tips to help with HIPAA Compliance
- Check for vulnerabilities in your IT network. You may need to replace aging technology and update your hardware and software. If you don’t, you may be weakening the effectivity your IT security and endangering your ePHI. We can conduct regular vulnerability assessments to detect weaknesses in your defense.
- Make use of the right IT security solutions. In addition to implementing a Remote Management and Monitoring and Data Intrusion Solution to detect unauthorized attempts and block them. Our healthcare IT professionals can deploy a range of vital security solutions, including:
- Data encryption so your ePHI and EHRs are secure both in transit and storage.
- Multi-factor authentication where your users must use two or more forms of electronic identification to access data.
- Routine patches and updates for your software programs to mitigate any security gaps.
- Maintain necessary visibility into storage of ePHI and EHRs. Monitor all access and record all login attempts to respond immediately to unauthorized attempts. Our healthcare IT team set this up for you and enhance your visibility over and control of sensitive medical information.
- Keep records on access to your ePHI and EHRs. It’s important to keep track of any data access in order to make sure it is in line with users’ duties and responsibilities. You should only allow access to those who need the information and no one else. Your HR department will have a role to play in this respect to advise and notify you when new employees are brought onboard, changes are made in personnel descriptions, and when employees leave your organization.
- Develop and implement a HIPAA policy organization-wide. This should include all aspects of the “HIPAA Security Rule” and your policies and procedures around it. For the record, the Security Rule sets standards for the handling of ePHI, which is the specific type of data the HIPAA Privacy Rule covers. This rule establishes national standards for properly securing patient data that is stored or transmitted electronically. Also, include an Incident Response Plan that designates a person or team to respond, their roles, and the steps they should take if a data breach occurs – i.e. who should be notified, including individuals and government agencies as required.
- Undergo a HIPAA Assessment. Vertical IT will assess your business’ practices to determine that the following crucial guidelines are being followed:
- if your business is compliant with HIPAA Omnibus laws
- if your business will meet the upcoming HITECH Stage 3 proposals
- if your business is prepared for an audit by the Office of Civil Rights
- how your business deals with ePHI to maintain a compliance posture
- if your business is secure against cyber risks such as hackers, viruses and other digital attacks
- if your business meets Meaningful Use guidelines laid out by HITECH stages 1-3, as to any technical, administrative and physical risks and vulnerabilities concerning ePHI that is maintained by certified HER
- if your staff is properly trained to communicate, proceed and act in accordance with compliance guidelines
The healthcare industry deals with the issue of privacy by continually working to guarantee all information is kept within the intended barriers.
As new technology comes into play and makes practicing medicine easier, it has the side effect of making protecting patient information that much harder. Hence the seemingly endless rules and standards meant to reassure patients that they are protected by their provider and that their personal information is kept confidential.
Neglect and carelessness lead to these standards being created, which makes implementing the best practices like these listed above a critical part of achieving and maintaining compliance.