A DEFINITION OF HIPAA COMPLIANCE
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets the standard for sensitive patient data protection. Companies that deal with protected health information (PHI) must have physical, network, and process security measures in place and follow them to ensure HIPAA Compliance. Covered entities (anyone providing treatment, payment, and operations in healthcare) and business associates (anyone who has access to patient information and provides support in treatment, payment, or operations) must meet HIPAA Compliance. Other entities, such as subcontractors and any other related business associates must also be in compliance./p>
THE HIPAA PRIVACY AND HIPAA SECURITY RULES
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the HIPAA Privacy Rule, or Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information, establishes national standards for the protection of certain health information. Additionally, the Security Rule establishes a national set of security standards for protecting specific health information that is held or transferred in electronic form.
The Security Rule operationalizes the Privacy Rule’s protections by addressing the technical and nontechnical safeguards that covered entities must put in place to secure individuals’ electronic PHI (e-PHI). Within HHS, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for enforcing the Privacy and Security Rules with voluntary compliance activities and civil money penalties.
PHYSICAL AND TECHNICAL SAFEGUARDS, POLICIES, AND HIPAA COMPLIANCE
The HHS requires physical and technical safeguards for organizations hosting sensitive patient data. These physical safeguards include…
- Limited facility access and control with authorized access in place
- Policies about use and access to workstations and electronic media
- Restrictions for transferring, removing, disposing, and re-using electronic media and ePHI
Along the same lines, the technical safeguards of HIPAA require access control allowing only for authorized personnel to access ePHI. Access control includes…
- Using unique user IDS, emergency access procedures, automatic log off, and encryption and decryption
- Audit reports or tracking logs that record activity on hardware and software
Other technical policies for HIPAA compliance need to cover integrity controls, or measures put in place to confirm that ePHI is not altered or destroyed. IT disaster recovery and offsite backup are key components that ensure that electronic media errors and failures are quickly remedied so that patient health information is recovered accurately and intact. One final technical safeguard is network, or transmission security that ensures HIPAA compliant hosts protect against unauthorized access to ePHI. This safeguard addresses all methods of data transmission, including email, internet, or private networks, such as a private cloud.
To help ensure HIPAA compliance, the U.S. government passed a supplemental act, The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which raises penalties for health organizations that violate HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules. The HITECH Act was put into place due to the development of health technology and the increased use, storage, and transmission of electronic health information.
Do you need help with a strategy to comply with HIPAA? CyberSafe 360 can help.