HIPAA regulations mean that technology teams must keep Protected Health Information (PHI) secure and confidential. While HIPAA compliance tells companies that they must keep PHI secure, the rule doesn’t explicitly state how to go about doing so. Technology teams are only given factors to consider when approaching their security infrastructure; cost, capabilities and the overall risk of violating HIPAA are just a few examples. In order to meet HIPAA compliance requirements, technology teams must take into account several aspects of the rule and evaluate if they can be within compliance while still empowering the entity (hospital, doctor, etc.) to meet customer needs.
IT HIPAA compliance requirements include:
The Privacy Rule’s goal is to “assure that individuals’ health information is properly protected while allowing the flow of health information needed to provide and promote high-quality health care and to protect the public's health and wellbeing.” Technology teams must check to see if they have processes implemented that allow for the right people to have access to information while others, without permission, are explicitly denied. The rule pertains to electronic records, information exchanged verbally and written healthcare communication.
The Security Rule addresses the protections of the Privacy Rule from an operations side. It details the technical and business safeguards that organizations must put into place in order to be compliant. For example:
- Are documents protected from those who should not have access?
- Are there physical safeguards in place, such as facility locks, workstation use controls, device and media controls, etc.?
- Are there technical safeguards in place, such as entry authorization, individual access control and audit processes in place?
The HIPAA Enforcement Rule addresses the process for audits and investigations, legal hearings and addresses monetary fines for violating the HIPAA compliance requirements. The Enforcement Rule is a reminder that it’s vital to have ongoing training programs in place and an auditory process to track violations and quickly resolve them.
If there’s been a violation, an entity is required to report it. Reporting rules vary based on whether the breach impacts more than 500 individuals or fewer than 500. To be within compliance of Breach Notification requirements, technology teams must make sure there’s a process in place for notifying the government of violations, a point of contact for follow-up and for submitting any additional requests.
Many healthcare IT organizations work with a consulting firm that specializes in meeting HIPAA compliance requirements. The shift to electronic records and the rise of mobile device usage among physicians and nurses has also increased such demand. Healthcare IT teams are doubly challenged; they must maintain current infrastructure and operations, even if outmoded while they transition confidential healthcare information to digital formats. Partnering with an experienced consulting firm allows healthcare IT teams to move faster and regain hours back into their weeks so they can focus on their core operations.
At Twinstate, our certified security experts and suite of services address many concerns plaguing healthcare today, like ensuring your organization is HIPAA-compliant.