Handling data in the healthcare profession can come with great risk. Medical practices must now set the protection of data as one of their highest priority because hackers have made medical organizations their number one target. 

As part of the effort for medical organizations to keep their patients’ data out of the hands of cyber criminals, HIPAA compliance has become mandatory across the healthcare industry. Ensuring that the requirements are met within your healthcare organization is not just a legal requirement, it also keeps you protected from the costly effects of a data breach, including loss of client trust and thousands of dollars in non-compliance and cleanup fees.

HIPAA and the HIPAA Security Rule

HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. This act was set up to safeguard sensitive medical information and ensure data remains both private and secure

With the rise in cyber attacks and threats of data breaches associated with ransomware, it has never been more important that organizations are completely compliant with the specific regulations outlined in HIPAA. Organizations who fail to meet compliance regulations could face legal consequences including patient lawsuits and non-compliance penalties. how to become HIPAA compliant in Alabama

Detailing the specific requirements that healthcare providers need to comply with to ensure patient data is protected is the HIPAA Security Rule. The Security Rule covers technical as well as non-technical standards that need to be met. 

Under the rule, healthcare data should be kept private, secure, and be available at all times. The Security Rule applies to all types of medical professionals including doctors, dentists, and health insurance companies. Maintaining data integrity is crucial, as is ensuring vigilance over potential threats to data and an understanding of how data could be compromised and the ways that it can be protected. 

Managing Your Own HIPAA Compliance

Should your organization choose to manage its own HIPAA compliance, there needs to be sufficient expertise and the right resources in order to implement the IT and cybersecurity plans needed. 

Your organization will need to have:

  •  Self-assessment checklist: The HIPAA checklist will allow you to check the areas that you are already compliant in, as well as the areas you still need to address. This is a working document that should be used whenever auditing your HIPAA compliance. 

 

  • Risk-assessment tool: Using the risk-assessment tool will give you a clear understanding of where the vulnerabilities and security risks are within your organization. This comprehensive assessment document will help you identify areas that need addressing in order to protect your patient’s data. 
  • NIST HSR toolkit: Designed to assist in ensuring that your organization is in full compliance with the HIPAA Security Rule. 

 

Using a Managed Service Provider

Managing data protection in-house will require you to have the right specialized knowledge within your organization. Most organizations lack the resources needed to achieve full compliance. A great option for businesses who don’t have the time or resources to manage compliance in-house is to outsource HIPAA compliance to a Managed Service Provider (MSP) in Alabama.  

In fact, outsourcing your HIPAA compliance to a Managed Service Provider often proves to be the most secure option regardless of organization size or infrastructure. Relying on an MSP who has specialized experience in healthcare compliance means less risk of a data breach or legal complications within your organization. 

With regular updates to HIPAA regulations and ever-changing risk profiles, making use of an outsourced MSP puts you closer to the changes in the industry legislation that you need to know about. 

When you bring a Managed Service Provider on-board they will need to carry out a gap analysis. The purpose of this is to ascertain where your business is in comparison to the HIPAA requirements. This analysis will examine:

  • Who has access to information and how this is managed
  • The training that managers and information system administrators receive
  • How security controls are put in place
  • How patient data is stored
  • How incident response plans are created and implemented

The information found in this analysis will form part of a remedial plan. The amount of time and money that will be required to bring your organization up to the level of HIPAA compliance will depend on its current situation. 

In addition to devising and implementing the changes required to achieve compliance,  Managed Service Providers will also monitor and maintain your cybersecurity systems. The MSP will continually carry out routine network security testing and updates in order to ensure that your organization remains secure from threats and fully HIPAA compliant at all times. 

Having a Managed Service Provider will ensure that when mandatory HIPAA compliance based changes take effect, your organization will get the support it needs.