If your company holds or handles confidential, sensitive patient medical information and health records, it is crucial to ensure that you remain HIPAA compliant for the safety of your patients and your business. You need to make sure that any data centers storing that information are HIPAA compliant; similarly, your staff must be trained and knowledgeable about the rules and regulations regarding HIPAA compliance and understand their responsibilities within your company. Keeping patient information safe is a top priority, and by becoming HIPAA compliant and staying compliant, you will be doing just that.
How to Become HIPAA Compliant
You’ll need to enlist the help of a Privacy Officer (for more information on HIPAA Privacy Officers, click here) to review each aspect of the HIPAA compliance IT requirements in detail, but here are some of the basics. To become HIPAA compliant:
- Make sure that all records, both physical and digital, have proper access control that allows accurate identification and tracking of users;
- Establish emergency protocols and mechanisms for safely and securely accessing or safeguarding information in case of emergency;
- Configure the system to automatically log users out if they are inactive for a specified amount of time;
- Employ mechanisms to encrypt and decrypt electronic protected health information whenever necessary and appropriate;
- Incorporate methods of auditing and authenticating access to and the integrity of these records, and;
- Ensure that the facility housing these records has proper access control and validation systems, workstation security, tracking and disposal procedures, and data backup to protect patient information.
HIPAA compliance IT requirements, as you can see, are rather extensive, but it’s important to note that the above recommendations are not comprehensive and should not be considered all-inclusive advice. This is just a very basic overview of what is involved in becoming HIPAA compliant. For more information on HIPAA, click here.
Once your company is HIPAA compliant, it is critical to ensure that it stays HIPAA compliant.
Staying HIPAA Compliant
Once you have a HIPAA compliant network infrastructure, it’s critical to maintain your compliance by enlisting an independent, unbiased team to conduct an audit and risk assessment on an annual basis. Technology is constantly changing, so you need to regularly check to make sure you’re still using HIPAA compliant technology, rather than tech that has gone out-of-date.
Educating Employees about Staying HIPAA Compliant
System security is not all that is required for a HIPAA compliant workplace. Employees can inadvertently compromise sensitive data in a variety of ways. Even the best firewalls can be foiled by an employee accidentally opening a link in an e-mail that contains ransomware, a type of malware that is designed to hold your patients’ data hostage until you pay a ransom. Thus, it is crucial to keep your employees informed of HIPAA network security requirements and best practices to avoid these potentially devastating breaches of security.
HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage
Believe it or not, if properly set up and maintained, the cloud can prove to be a superior, secure method of storing protected health information. It also allows for multiple locations to access data as well as advanced data analysis, which enables healthcare providers to collaborate more easily. However, it is vital to ensure that the cloud service you choose for your company is HIPAA compliant, as not all cloud services offer the same advanced security features and support.
Overwhelmed by HIPAA Compliance Technology Requirements? Need Help?
If your healthcare facility needs to establish or upgrade its HIPAA compliant network infrastructure, C1C is here to help. We have the knowledge and expertise to design and implement an IT infrastructure that meets HIPAA IT compliance requirements. Contact C1C today for a free consultation.