Security

4 Important factors about HIPAA and your IT

Medical records are private and their exposure could lead to negative consequences such as social stigma and job discrimination. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects these data and grants patients the right to view their own health information so that they can enjoy more control over their care. Healthcare practices must therefore make sure that they have all their bases covered when it comes to HIPAA compliance. Below are four of the most important factors to consider.

1. Whether it be on-premises, on the cloud, or both, data storage must be HIPAA-compliant

Electronic protected health information (ePHI) and any sensitive documents like billing records, appointment information, and test results must be stored in HIPAA-compliant devices and servers. More specifically, your devices and services should have multiple layers of security, including endpoint protection software, encryption systems, and strict access controls.

Healthcare providers tend to prefer building their own data centers since they won’t require internet connectivity to access on-premises data storage. However, storage space may be limited, so the cloud is viable, especially for less sensitive ePHI. When choosing cloud-based storage for your EHRs, make sure that you and your service provider meet HIPAA requirements.

2. Data must be secured while providing telehealth and mHealth services

If your practice has invested in or is thinking about investing in a telehealth or mobile health (mHealth), then you need to make sure that the tech you utilize is HIPAA-compliant. While most telehealth technologies are HIPAA-approved, one or two additional measures may be required for complete compliance. For example, you may need to utilize encryption in transit to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks during virtual consultations. An IT specialist should have no problem making sure your telehealth solution is up to code.

On the other hand, mHealth might be a little more problematic, as it is a new and constantly changing field. Your best bet is to consult with an expert to make sure that you’re following all the necessary regulations when providing mHealth services.

3. Healthcare business associates must also be HIPAA-compliant

Conforming to HIPAA regulations is not just limited to medical practices, healthcare clearinghouses, and health plan organizations. Any business that has access, electronic or otherwise, to PHI is also required by law to be HIPAA-compliant. This includes any accounting or law firms you work with that may already be accessing your files electronically to carry out work.

To avoid any potential trouble for your practice or its partners, it is best to ask them if they are HIPAA-compliant before partnering with them. If they aren’t, do not grant them data access privileges.

4. Your protected health information (PHI) notice must be available online

If your practice has a website, HIPAA rules dictate that your website must contain a copy of your updated PHI notice for patients to access. This notice informs patients of their rights with regard to their health information. If this information is not currently posted on your website, rectify this as soon as possible to avoid any problems.

Still not sure if you’re 100% HIPAA-compliant? Our team of experts can run the necessary risk analysis and identify areas of your technology that may not be in line with current regulations. Just give us a call today.

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