Finding the right tools to ensure HIPAA compliance

Finding the right tools to ensure HIPAA compliance

The health industry remains one of the most lucrative targets for cybercriminals. In 2018, hospitals, labs, drug companies, and outpatient clinics weren’t spared from attacks. In October alone, there were 241 data breaches and over six million healthcare records exposed and stolen.

The ongoing spate of attacks on healthcare organizations highlights the urgency to stay safe and be HIPAA-compliant. But what is HIPAA compliance, and how can organizations achieve this?

HIPAA explained

This is the fulfillment of the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, its subsequent amendments, and any related legislation such as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. Broadly speaking, HIPAA regulates healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses that conduct transactions electronically. It also extends to business associates of covered entities, vendors, and service providers that have access to protected health information (PHI) and electronic health records (EHR).

Requirements include implementing physical, network, and process measures to keep protected PHI such as medical records secure against unauthorized access, use, or disclosure.

Your road to compliance

Getting started means you must be familiar with the tools you can use to achieve compliance. Here are some of them:

Email encryption
One way to make sure that communications within your business are secure is to use email encryption. Your business email contains sensitive data and unencrypted messages, and files jump from point to point through routes over the internet until they reach their destination. At these points, data can be intercepted by outsiders.

With proper encryption, your email communications are shielded from the prying eyes of third parties, government agencies, and cybercriminals. Using email encryption is also a good countermeasure against phishing and business email compromise (BEC) attempts, or schemes that target employees and trick them into giving out sensitive company information.

Bring your own device (BYOD) protection
This policy allows employees to use their own devices to work remotely and access company data when needed. It’s a good way to show your confidence in them and allow for work-life balance. However, when it comes to healthcare organizations, BYOD can pose a number of risks like data breaches. As such, make sure that your BYOD comes with proper security measures such as encryption, password protection, two-factor authentication (2FA), and remote wipe capabilities.

HIPAA-compliant storage
Many healthcare organizations are embracing the benefits of cloud computing, including scalability, cost-efficiency, and flexibility. While the cloud makes storage and sharing convenient, it’s important to carefully assess the implications of cloud adoption, especially when it comes to data protection practices. Key requirements to prevent HIPAA breaches are encryption, access control, and audit trails.

HIPAA-compliant hosting
Having data on portable devices makes it vulnerable to exposure. Outsourcing your hosting needs can help your business by passing the burden of HIPAA compliance to the service provider. Since healthcare applications touch and store some of the most valuable and sensitive patient data, look for a hosting provider that delivers on their promise to protect patient data.

How can your business stay protected and compliant?

Implementing comprehensive security awareness training, educating staff, and using the right tools to ensure best practices and compliance are steps to sustain the security of your patients’ data. Only do business with third-party service providers who are willing to enter into business associate agreements (BAAs) with you.

Athens Micro will make sure that your business meets standard regulatory and compliance requirements and that you get multiple safeguards to protect your data. Want to learn more? Contact our IT experts today.

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