Healthcare organizations face unique challenges when it comes to implementing IT solutions. In particular, these businesses must comply with HIPAA regulations regarding protected health information (PHI). The digitization of much of this data means that organizations must find healthcare IT solutions that enable HIPAA compliance.
There are many such solutions available, as long as organizations find the right providers to help them with proper implementation. Here are some Best Practices and common ways that experienced IT support providers can help healthcare organizations with HIPAA compliance.
Protected health information takes many forms in today’s digitized age. For example, protected information may appear in emails, in scanned documents on someone’s computer, in a download on a smartphone, or in a file stored on a tablet. Even text messages can contain protected data. HIPAA requires that PHI be protected, no matter what form it takes.
Healthcare IT solutions must account for all of the possible forms that PHI can take. For example, creating secure pathways for messages between a patient and their provider, implementing proper software onto all devices that contain PHI, or encrypting data as it travels from one endpoint to another are all ways to guard patient data in accordance with HIPAA, no matter what form that data takes.
The goal of every healthcare organization is to avoid data breaches in the first place. However, the worst-case scenario can and does happen. In order to maintain HIPAA compliance and minimize damage, organizations should also set up a backup and disaster recovery plan that they can implement in case a data breach does occur. The right provider will help your organization to set up this plan and, in the event that it is ever needed, implement it quickly in order to preserve the security of patient data, minimize damage, and end data breaches as soon as they occur.
Encryption is one of the most basic and important security measures for any sensitive information. When it comes to ePHI, encryption is particularly important. Any healthcare IT solutions you adopt should include strong encryption of this data. Encryption should occur every time the data is in transit, as well as when it is stored anywhere on a physical device or on the cloud. Encryption makes it much more difficult to access sensitive patient information even if that information is obtained through a data breach, the loss of a physical device on which the data is stored, or through other means.
Layering security solutions provides extra protection for PHI. For example, consider using multi-factor authentication for all required logins. This solution asks for both the traditional username/password combination and another security token before allowing a user to access protected data. Multi-factor authentication makes it much more difficult for bad actors to hack into an account and minimizes the chances that a weak password will lead to a data breach.
Other layered security solutions can also make data breaches more difficult. Layered Security Architecture, such as that used here at TXSG, for example, provides multiple layers of protection around PHI. Every layer would need to be compromised in order for the data to be breached. The right healthcare IT solutions provide layered solutions to make data more secure in accordance with HIPAA and other regulatory requirements.
The cloud can provide a very secure location for the storage of protected patient information. After all, the cloud cannot be lost or stolen as can physical pieces of hardware. The cloud can also be very difficult to hack into if you choose the right storage solution and the right managed cloud service provider.
However, not every piece of software or cloud storage solution meets HIPAA compliance requirements. The wrong ones can leave PHI vulnerable and leave you in violation of HIPAA regulations. The right IT solutions will include software and storage solutions that comply with HIPAA regulations. The right healthcare managed services provider can help you to identify the best software and storage solutions so you can keep PHI secure at all times.
If someone accesses PHI on a tablet, smartphone, or desktop computer and then accidentally leaves that data up on the screen, a data breach can occur, since anyone who looks at that device next can see that patient information. In order to prevent these breaches of HIPAA regulations, your IT solutions should include features like auto log offs.
These features will automatically log the user out of the device used to access PHI after a certain period of inactivity. These solutions make it less likely that someone’s forgetfulness will lead to a data breach and will help ensure your organization’s continued compliance with HIPAA.
HIPAA compliance impacts every area of your organization’s business technology and IT infrastructure. In order to help ensure you remain in compliance, consider using an experienced healthcare managed services provider. These professionals can evaluate your specific needs and implement solutions that assist you with HIPAA compliance while also enjoying the IT support and services your organization needs to thrive.
When you need to stay HIPAA compliant, you need effective healthcare IT solutions. Those solutions include protecting PHI in all its forms, implementing a backup and disaster recovery plan, creating strong encryption, using multi-factor authentication and other layered security solutions, using HIPAA-compliant software and cloud storage solutions, implementing features like automatic log offs, and using an experienced healthcare managed services provider.
Here at Texas Systems Group, we specialize in services that help you with HIPAA compliance while meeting your organization’s IT needs. We have extensive experience in the healthcare field and working with the tools that enable you secure and protect PHI.