The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted in 1996 for the purpose of improving efficiencies in the healthcare system. Nearly 30 years later, HIPAA compliance is still a top concern for healthcare providers. Maintaining HIPAA compliance not only allows providers to avoid hefty penalties and fines, but also to preserve patient privacy and ultimately provide better care outcomes. However, some healthcare providers don’t know where to start with HIPAA compliance. One of the questions we hear often is “What is the HIPAA Security Rule and how can I stay compliant?”
So, let’s take a look at the HIPAA Security Rule and compliance requirements.
In 2003, The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) developed guidelines for managing patient data. Along with the guidelines and standards, HHS implemented two decrees. These include the HIPAA Security Rule and the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
Covered entities include insurance providers and third-party billing partners, and health plans. Additionally, all business associates (BAs) must comply with guidelines. BAs include vendors or third-party individuals who come into contact with patient data.
A good place to start is with the three standards in the HIPAA Security Rule—administrative, technical, and physical safeguards—all of which are intended to help CAs and BEs protect patient data.
The Security Rule defines administrative safeguards as, “administrative actions, and policies and procedures, to manage the selection, development, implementation, and maintenance of security measures to protect electronic protected health information and to manage the conduct of the covered entity’s workforce in relation to the protection of that information.” Administrative safeguards include:
The Security Rule defines physical safeguards as “physical measures, policies, and procedures to protect a covered entity’s electronic information systems and related buildings and equipment, from natural and environmental hazards, and unauthorized intrusion.” Physical safeguards include:
The Security Rule defines technical safeguards as “the technology and the policy and procedures for its use that protect electronic protected health information and control access to it.” Technical safeguards include:
Because rapid access to PHI is crucial to fulfilling the mission of healthcare provider organizations, and sharing medical records via email and files is often the path of least resistance, IT teams need to be aware of how the HIPAA Security Rule pertains to email and file systems. Three of the technical safeguards listed above apply most directly to email and files:
Understanding HIPAA’s key technical safeguards in relation to common PHI sharing workflows is the first step to overcoming compliance challenges. Download this free guide and learn how data-centric security approaches can help you ensure patient privacy while maintaining HIPAA compliance.Download Now
To help maintain HIPAA compliance, schedule an internal risk assessment or risk analysis. Conduct this every year to help your organization better understand how your ePHI and PHI may be at risk. This forward-thinking approach can help you avoid data breaches, fines, and penalties.
Here are a few steps to help you start your HIPAA risk assessment:
Health IT security best practices have evolved beyond traditional perimeter-based, network-level protections to embrace data-centric security approaches. Data-centric security encompasses data control, or the ability to apply persistent security policies, regardless of location, device type, or hosting model, and intelligence, which refers to the real-time visibility of contextual information that enables threat monitoring and incident response workflows.
Data-centric security closely aligns with the HIPAA Security Rule’s technical safeguards for email and files mentioned above. Data control assures that access controls and transmission security safeguards via encryption and security policies accompany PHI wherever it’s shared. Intelligence covers audit controls via persistent visibility over who has accessed data, when, where, and how.
But the power of data-centric security exceeds these minimum HIPAA compliance safeguards. Security that protects PHI shared via email and files across disparate healthcare environments ensures patient privacy, which helps cultivate relationships that lead to better care outcomes.
Virtru’s data-centric security platform has helped thousands of healthcare organizations with HIPAA compliance and patient confidentiality. Organizations that leverage Virtru to protect email and files avoid HIPAA noncompliance fines by keeping their PHI secure, wherever it’s shared.
Virtru provides end-to-end encryption, granular access controls, and visibility to enable secure PHI sharing.
Learn more about how healthcare organizations can leverage Virtru’s data-centric solutions to protect patient data and maintain HIPAA compliance. Request a demo today.
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