HIPAA compliance is one of the most important considerations for any modern business. HIPAA is designed to protect the personal and medical data of patients. Any business which handles such data is required to keep it secure. Here are some of the ways you can ensure compliance.
You should periodically conduct an audit of your systems to ensure that private and personal data is being stored correctly, both in compliance with HIPAA and your own internal policy.
Hire a Dedicated Security Team
Network security is not a subject that anyone can just decide to pick up on a whim. It requires years of study and practice to become a competent security professional. While it might seem simple enough to follow the HIPAA guidelines and to rely on common sense to keep data safe, this is a foolish approach.
You should always assume that malicious actors will try and access your systems. You need to have a dedicated and qualified security team in place, a team who can help you with general data protection, and with more specialized features such as federated authentication.
Develop an Internal Auditing Process
It is vital that you are able to accurately assess how effective your current privacy policies are. HIPAA sets out what is expected of you as the custodian of personal information, but it does not stipulate how you should go about ensuring compliance. This means you have control over your policies, but you need to ensure that they meet the appropriate standards.
Conducting regular risk assessments, and conducting penetration testing, will give you peace of mind regarding the security of your current systems. Where you do identify weaknesses and potential breaches, work to plug those gaps as soon as possible.
Ensure You Have Specific E-Mail Policies in Place
As a general rule, e-mail is not regarded as being a very secure form of communication. There is nothing in HIPAA which says that you cannot transmit personal data and information over e-mail, but you should read between the lines and implement a robust policy for ensuring that data remains secure.
Establish Training Protocols
Once you have figured out your overall HIPAA compliance strategy, you will then need to communicate it to the rest of your team. Going forward however, you will have new employees coming in who are used to the HIPAA policies from their old job. In order to ensure that all the data you hold remains secure, you need to make sure that new employees are appropriately trained.
Make Sure You Understand Your Breach Requirement Duties
There is some very specific language used in HIPAA with regards to what you must do in the event of a breach. It is vital that you always follow the established protocol if a breach is identified. It’s a good idea to read the Breach Notification Rule. If you are having trouble understanding it, consult with a corporate lawyer.
In addition to all of the above, remember that you are also liable if data you hold is misused by one of your business associates. Don’t let other people’s complacency threaten your business, ensure that you have a robust HIPAA compliance plan in place.