What is HIPAA IT Compliance?

HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, sets the standard for protecting sensitive patient data. Any company that deals with protected health information (PHI) must ensure that all the required physical, network, and process security measures are in place and followed.

This includes covered entities (CE), anyone who provides treatment, payment and operations in healthcare, and business associates (BA), anyone with access to patient information and provides support in treatment, payment or operations. Subcontractors, or business associates of business associates, must also be in compliance.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule addresses the saving, accessing and sharing of medical and personal information of any individual, while the HIPAA Security Rule more specifically outlines national security standards to protect health data created, received, maintained or transmitted electronically, also known as electronic protected health information (ePHI).

If you are hosting your data with a HIPAA compliant hosting provider, they must have certain administrative, physical and technical safeguards in place, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The physical and technical safeguards are most relevant to services provided by your HIPAA compliant host as listed below, with detail on what constitutes a HIPAA compliant data center.

– Physical safeguards include limited facility access and control, with authorized access in place.

– All covered entities, or companies that must be HIPAA compliant, must have policies about use and access to workstations and electronic media. This includes transferring, removing, disposing and re-using electronic media and electronic protected health information (ePHI).

– Technical safeguards require access control to allow only the authorized to access electronic protected health data. Access control includes using unique user IDs, an emergency access procedure, automatic log off and encryption and decryption.

– Audit reports, or tracking logs, must be implemented to keep records of activity on hardware and software. This is especially useful to pinpoint the source or cause of any security violations.

– Technical policies should also cover integrity controls, or measures put in place to confirm that ePHI hasn’t been altered or destroyed.

– IT disaster recovery and offsite backup are key to ensure that any electronic media errors or failures can be quickly remedied and patient health information can be recovered accurately and intact.

– Network, or transmission, security is the last technical safeguard required of HIPAA compliant hosts to protect against unauthorized public access of ePHI. This concerns all methods of transmitting data, whether it be email, Internet, or even over a private network, such as a private cloud.

A supplemental act was passed in 2009 called The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act which supports the enforcement of HIPAA requirements by raising the penalties of health organizations that violate HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules. The HITECH Act was formed in response to health technology development and increased use, storage and transmittal of electronic health information.

Not sure if you are HIPAA compliant? We can help. Contact us and schedule an appointment , or call us right now at 855-385-5726.

FullScopeIT Inc. is your preferred Baltimore area HIPAA Compliant IT services provider .

Resources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

How to Ensure That Your Company Is HIPAA Compliant

When your company has access to patients’ medical records, financial data, and other sensitive information, you need to be aware of the risks of a security breach. If your company is audited by the Office of Civil Rights and found to be noncompliant with HIPAA rules, the legal and financial consequences can be severe. In August 2015, a federal appeals court found that the Federal Trade Commission also has the authority to investigate and prosecute cases of failure to protect private consumer information. Since anyone can file a complaint against you, it’s important to ensure that all of your sensitive data is adequately protected. By working with an agency that specializes in HIPAA compliance in Annapolis, you can take the following steps:

Limit the information you have. Only collect personal consumer information that your company absolutely needs, and do not keep it longer than necessary. For example, if your company needs to use consumers’ credit or debit card numbers, do not store that information, since it can then become vulnerable to hackers.

Control data access and require secure passwords. Make sure that your employees do not have access to personal consumer information if they do not need to, and limit administrative access to those employees who need it for their jobs. Protect all sensitive information by requiring complex passwords, and use other methods such as authentication to increase security.

Secure HIPAA DATA Keep your network secure. Monitoring network activity to identify suspicious behavior can help reduce your risk of a security breach. Using firewalls to prevent unnecessary data access inside your network can also deter hackers. If anyone has remote access to your network, it’s important to make sure that those connections are also secure.

Run a security risk analysis. There is no substitute for having your system’s security examined by a skilled IT security professional. An IT consulting agency that offers HIPAA compliance assessments can analyze your system and identify weak spots in your security, ensuring that your company remains compliant with federal regulations.

The Risks of Failing a HIPAA Audit

If your company stores, transfers, or receives protected health information, it’s imperative to make sure that you are in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA requires companies that are in possession of consumers’ private health information to take the steps necessary to ensure that this information is kept private, such as using encrypted data, having an effective password policy, and having a plan in place for emergencies. Failing to secure sensitive information can leave your company vulnerable to massive fines and even criminal charges.

If you receive a notification of an HIPAA audit by the Office for Civil Rights, you will have two weeks or less to prepare. This means that your company should be prepared for the possibility of an audit at all times. Your first step toward ensuring that you are in compliance with HIPAA rules is to obtain a security risk analysis from an agency specializing in network security consulting near Annapolis. Rather than trying to do a risk analysis yourself, it’s best to rely on the services of an experienced professional to ensure that nothing is overlooked. Once you have identified any problem areas, such as lack of encryption, you can begin working to make your network secure. HIPAA Compliance