Cyber attacks can be used for multiple purposes. Usually, they are used to steal data, but they are also commonly used to cause disruptions in normal business operations. This is particularly troubling for healthcare organizations. Institutions in the healthcare industry are often targeted due to their vital economic role, access to “high-value” information (such as credit card numbers), and public safety attributes.
Cyber attacks are not only getting worse, but they’re also increasing in number year after year. To mitigate the growing risk of these cyber threats, government agencies and private-sector organizations have collaborated to develop security compliance standards to fit the needs of the healthcare industry.
Technology has managed to completely change healthcare for the better. Today’s medical facilities are high-tech operations that use the latest equipment to perform complicated tasks. However, with the merging of IT and healthcare comes the need for protective security measures. These measures have come in the form of regulatory standards.
The main IT security guidelines the healthcare industry follows are provided by the Healthcare Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It is a series of regulatory standards that outline the lawful use and disclosure of protected health information (PHI). This includes medical records and personally-identifying information (PII). In recent years, Congress and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have also added several other regulations and guidelines the industry must follow.
What is PHI Compliance?
PHI is all data that contains information on demographics, medical insurance, medical histories, tests, lab results, and medical data. Healthcare providers need to collect this information not only to identify patients but also to determine the proper care for the patient in question. Under U.S. law, it’s mandatory for all healthcare organizations to take the steps needed to protect this information.
The Importance of HIPAA Security Rule
You’ll find most of the relevant information on healthcare IT compliance within the HIPAA security rule. This is a guideline that includes specific physical, technical, and administrative safeguards that prevent healthcare information from being compromised. Some of the details in the security rule include:
- Physical Safeguards: This calls for best practices to be created for managing physical equipment that contains sensitive information.
- Technical Safeguards: The technical safeguards focus on when communication about healthcare information is secure and what needs to be done for authorized users to authenticate their identity.
- Administrative Safeguards: This is about the selection and implementation of strategies to remain compliant with the HIPAA Security Rule.
What Is Required for Compliance?
HIPAA outlines everything that’s required to be compliant, which includes:
- Self Audits: This requires healthcare businesses to perform an annual audit to assess administrative, technical, and physical gaps in compliance.
- Remediation: Healthcare institutions must also have remediation strategies that will make them compliant after they find any gaps in compliance.
- Policy Development and Training: Policies that adhere to HIPAA standards must be developed and updated according to changes in regulation. Employees must also be trained in these policies.
- Documentation: All efforts taken to become compliant must be recorded.
- Vendor Management: If an entity shares PHI with any of its vendors in any way, all of those vendors must be documented to ensure PHI is handled securely and mitigate liability.
- Incident Management: If a data breach does occur, the organization must have a process to document the breach and alert patients that their information has been compromised.
Following the regulatory standards of HIPAA is necessary for data security. However, navigating the complexities of HIPAA compliance can be difficult to do on your own. That’s why many institutions rely on IT providers like Stability Networks. As experts in all matters related to technology, an IT vendor understands IT compliance and can help your organization remain compliant.
When you choose Stability Networks for your IT solutions, you’re getting access to expert-level IT professionals who know how to keep your business safe from cyber threats. We offer a range of cyber security services that can be tailored to the unique needs of your organization. Our team works closely with yours so you can continue complying with HIPAA standards.
Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive services.