HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules
There are specific rules that have been placed regarding sensitive patient data protection, as well as matters regarding their privacy and security. Such rules are established by the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA). These rules imply that any company that deals with protected health information (PHI) must have in place physical, network, and process security measures and follow them in order to ensure HIPAA compliance. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has implemented nation-wide security that aims to protect specific health information with the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
In addition, in order to protect specific health information that is held or transferred in electronic form, there have been a set of rules established under the Security Rule. The Security Rule maps out the technical and non-technical safeguards that are required to be put in place by covered entities to protect patients’ personal health data; basically an extension of the Privacy Rule.
The following are the requirements under the Security Rule that ask entities covered under HIPAA to implement protections for e-PHI:
- Ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all e-PHI they create, receive, maintain or transmit;
- Identify and protect against reasonably anticipated threats to the security or integrity of the information;
- Protect against reasonably anticipated, impermissible uses or disclosures; and
- Ensure compliance by their workforce.
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR), within the HHS, enforces the Privacy and Security Rules with voluntary compliance activities and civil money penalties.
HIPAA Safeguards and Data Protection Strategies
Furthermore, HHS has placed requirements that ask organizations to establish physical and technical safeguards when hosting sensitive patient data, this includes limited facility access with access controls in place, as well as policies governing use and access to workstations, electronic media, and any attempts at transferring, removing, disposing, and re-using electronic media or e-PHI. Technical safeguards for access control ensure that only authorized personnel have access to e-PHI and often require using unique user IDs, emergency access procedures, automatic log off, encryption, and audit reports or tracking logs of all activity on hardware and software.
Data protection strategies also need to be in place to secure PHI/e-PHI beyond the baseline requirements for HIPAA compliance. These data protection strategies must enable healthcare organizations to ensure the security and availability of PHI to maintain the trust of healthcare professionals and patients; meet HIPAA and HITECH regulations for access, audit, and integrity controls including data transmission and device security; and maintain greater visibility and control of sensitive data throughout the organization. Such strategies can be stated and distributed in the form of policies and procedures manuals of the healthcare facility. Having a sound policy management software solution can greatly help with the management and the organization of such documents to ensure that the healthcare facility’s staff members are well aware of such strategies.
Healthcare organizations and providers must have access to patient data in order to deliver quality care, but complying with regulations and requirements for protecting patient health information requires a combination of robust security strategies as well as the appropriate security solutions and sufficient IT resources to implement them. Security solutions commonly used in the healthcare industry include access control, data loss prevention, encryption, secure file sharing tools, and network security solutions such as firewalls and antivirus software. Because of their ability to discover, classify, and protect sensitive information, data loss prevention tools are widely deployed in healthcare organizations to monitor, classify, and protect e-PHI.
How Policy Management Software Can Help
With the proper data protection strategies and solutions in place, healthcare organizations and providers can share data securely, both inside and outside of the organization, manage privileged users, and comply with monitoring and reporting regulations.
Developing and organizing policies and procedures to create a culture of compliance is only the first step towards actually implementing them. Powerful policy management software not only helps house policies efficiently, but also effectively distributes them amongst staff members to ensure they thoroughly understand the requirements and the role they play in helping the healthcare facility stay on par with the regulations.
At PolicyMedical, our main concerns lie with the wellbeing of healthcare organizations and their workers. In order to help contribute to the healthcare industry, we aim to develop and build robust policy management software and contracts management software that help ease the healthcare workers’ workload and help them stay on par with the regulatory requirements. However, we would like to mention that we may not always be the best match for every healthcare organization and that there may be another vendor that has a better offering. Regardless, we are more than happy to help, should you need any assistance; please do not hesitate to contact us. Alternatively, you may book a demo to see our solutions in action.
Disclaimer: original article can be found here.