Hospitals and health clinics are busier than ever, with medical records and patient information updates creating a flurry of activity in today’s challenging environment. Current situation aside, the healthcare industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries. Hospitals and medical centers must follow Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines for protecting patient data or face stiff fines and loss of reputation.
As the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) states, the HIPAA Privacy rule “requires appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information, and sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures of such information without patient authorization.”
In 2018, HHS resolved more than 25,000 HIPAA complaints. To avoid potential violations, healthcare providers need to work with technology partners that are HIPAA compliant, undergo regular audits, and offer HIPAA-compliant solutions.
Here is a closer look at 3 ways to ensure your organization is HIPAA compliant:
1) Work with a data center provider that is already HIPAA compliant.
Building and maintaining an in-house data center that is HIPAA compliant can be expensive and complicated. The goal of many healthcare organizations is to keep medical costs down for patients.
A HIPAA-compliant data center must be audited regularly. Yearly audits ensure that the data center adheres to security rules in the areas of Administrative Safeguards, Technical Safeguards, and Physical Safeguards.
To complete an audit successfully, organizations must keep meticulous records of data access. Your IT team and facilities would need to undergo certification.
Using a HIPAA-certified colocation takes the burden of compliance off your internal staff and resources. Your company can find out whether a colocation provider is HIPAA compliant by consulting the HIPAA Report on Compliance.
2) Work with a cloud provider that is already HIPAA compliant.
Hosting your company’s data center in the cloud is another economical option to meet HIPAA compliance. When you work with a HIPAA-compliant cloud provider, you know that any infrastructure resources or cloud services have the proper security measures to control unauthorized access to patient data.
The HHS requires that cloud providers maintain HIPAA compliance for all cloud services used to create, analyze, or transmit electronic health records (EHRs), including storage, networks, servers, and applications. HIPAA-compliant cloud providers are also required to report any unauthorized access of sensitive medical data.
3) Work with a partner that offers HIPAA-compliant technology solutions.
Security and data protection are at the heart of maintaining HIPAA compliance. Data must be protected while at rest and in transit. For these reasons, healthcare organizations should partner with technology providers that deliver secure network offerings.
A network security solution should provide a hospital or medical center with the tools it needs to protect patient data at the edge of the network, during transmission, and as it enters the perimeter. Managed firewall allows healthcare organizations to create and enforce access policies based on each type of user to prevent unauthorized access of information.
Malware protection is essential in this time of increasing ransomware attacks. Intrusion detection and prevention tools also help to identify and mitigate attacks on the network by identifying malicious traffic patterns and using the acquired intelligence to set up alerts.
Walking the Tightrope of HIPAA Compliance
Maintaining HIPAA compliance is tricky. Hospitals and medical centers must walk the fine line between controlling access to sensitive medical data and giving the patients free access to their own information. It helps to have a knowledgeable technology partner to guide the way.
HIPAA-compliant solutions are part of meeting regulations but do not guarantee full compliance. FirstLight has deep and broad experience working with healthcare organizations, so we can ensure that all your company’s data center, cloud, and networking solutions comply with regulations.
We offer HIPAA-certified data centers across the Northeast. Our cloud services undergo HIPAA audits at least annually to help our clients maintain their HIPAA compliance. We also provide solutions that can help protect sensitive patient data in flight and at rest.
Find out more about FirstLight’s HIPAA-compliant Cloud Computing and Data Center offerings, along with our other health care solutions. Check out our health care solutions page.