HIPAA Security Rule: How Healthcare Startups Can Stay Compliant

How to comply with hipaa security rule

What the HIPAA Requires from Healthcare Professionals

Recent statistics reveal an increase in cybersecurity crimes, and the health sector is no exception. In a bid to mitigate cybercrime, a set of rules called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has been put in place. These rules have been adopted to protect sensitive information about patients.

The rise in the use of the internet has been a factor in the increase in cybercrimes. There is a need to ensure the health records stored in hospitals are well cared for.

The healthcare arena has been targeted by cybercriminals recently. To curb cyber-attacks and breaching of data, the HIPAA security rule requires healthcare professionals to keep health information about patients secure from erasure, breaches, and other cybersecurity problems.

The 3 Components of HIPAA Rules and Regulations for Security

The HIPAA rules and regulations comprise three components that healthcare organizations have to comply with. These laws may be seen as oppressive, but they are crucial to safeguard the patient's information. Therefore, you and your team need to follow them to the letter.

Three critical areas always need consideration to prevent data breaches. The areas are physical security, technical security, and administrative security. Here are some ways in which health institutions need to comply with the HIPAA rules and regulations.

1. Physical Security

A physical security rule helps your organization prevent physical damage, theft, or loss of devices containing the patients' data. The following are some practices that will guarantee physical security in your health establishment.

Limiting access to databases

Limiting access to computers that contain sensitive data is essential. When more people access these computers, there is a high probability that information will leak. You can ensure physical security by keeping all these computers in one place, such as behind a counter, where only specific personnel can access them. Also, deny computer access to the public.

Alternatively, you may decide to institute various clearance levels to access information for the different employees in your establishment. This is done through a system of passwords and firewalls in your IT system. You may need to contract for a well-equipped IT team to achieve this.

Restricting access to specific areas

Secure rooms and monitoring buildings need to be restricted from access. All the visitors coming in should sign in for extra security measures. Installing authentication tools in secure rooms can help restrict users from these areas.

Training employees on HIPAA compliance

Training your team on what to do to ensure they keep the HIPAA rules is vital. Regular training will help keep employees updated on the HIPAA rule. Always provide procedures and policies that are easy to read and can increase compliance with the rules.

You need to educate your employees on the consequences of violating HIPAA laws. Violation of these laws will attract HIPAA violation fines and place the practicing licenses of your institution and employees at risk of suspension or withdrawal.

Additionally, you need to train your employees on what to do in the case of a HIPAA law violation. It's best to get insurance coverage for such a scenario that protects against cyber fraud.

2. Technical Security

There are some practices that will enable you to protect your devices and networks from cyber threats. Technical security techniques include:

  • Using separate database servers from the web servers

  • Continuous audit of the database

  • Frequently updating your operating system

  • Regularly backing up your data in encoded external storage devices

  • If possible, using HTPPS proxy servers for web connections

  • Installing firewalls

  • Using different work emails for your employees

  • Creating and using strong user authentication passwords and codes

Encryption and installing firewalls

Encrypting sensitive data in email or storing any cloud platform is vital to protecting your data. Also, to prevent your network from cyber threats like hacking, consider installing firewalls and other detecting and prevention systems.

Training your employees

Your employees need to know what to do and who to report to when cyber-attacks occur. In addition, they should be able to identify phishing emails and avoid opening them.

Updating your system regularly

Updating your system and software to the latest version increase your chances to secure your data. Updates will always offer new tactics for countering the emerging ways that hackers find to attack systems.

With changing technology, hackers come up with new ways every day, so you need to adapt to them.

Backing up your data

Backing up your data will help in case of an accident or cyber-attack. It also helps in case of accidentally deleting or changing data. Consider backing up the data somewhere safe so that, in case a problem arises, you can retrieve it.

Authentication

For extra security, consider authenticating your data. Authentication can help reduce the number of people who can access your organization's data. In addition, you can provide passwords that the IT team will regularly change.

3. Administrative Security Requirements

The administrative rules always ensure that patients' data is accessible to authorized people. Read on to learn some techniques to achieve this.

Employing compliance officers

Under the HIPAA security rule, two sections require compliance officers. The HIPAA privacy rule for employers requires a HIPAA privacy officer. This officer will always deal with privacy matters and hard copies. On the other side, HIPAA security will require a HIPAA security officer. This officer will deal primarily with electronic health information and cybersecurity.

Training employees

You should train workers on the privacy policy and the various ways that it relates to their jobs. Always make privacy policies available so that employees can understand them well. Also, decide which employees will be allowed to access patients' data.

Security assessment

A security assessment can sometimes be costly and seem overwhelming, but these assessments are essential to the organization. They will enable you to comply with the HIPAA security rule and prevent breaches of the patient's information.

It helps to be aware of a new tool that can help in security assessment. The Security Risk Assessment Tool addresses three main areas HIPAA rules require you to review.

The tool also has printed final results to help organizations comply with the HIPAA rules and improve their security measures.

You can check for the tool online. However, before using it, you should be aware of its limitations. It's best not to trust the tool to achieve compliance but rather use it as a road map as you navigate toward meeting HIPAA requirements.

Additionally, you may need to hire experts and consultants. They will help you meet the HIPAA requirements and standards, thus preventing HIPAA violation fines. To achieve this, you need to continuously monitor changes in laws and upgrades in technologies.

Violation of the HIPAA Regulations

Violation of the HIPAA rules by an employee or establishment may lead to:

  • Internal disciplinary action by your employer

  • Criminal charges

  • Payment of violation fees

  • Withdrawal of practicing license

  • Sanctions from the professional board

Note that not all HIPAA violations will lead to the above-listed actions. The outcome depends on several variables. However, the most likely course of action after a HIPAA violation is a court proceeding. In a court case, it is crucial to present all information or evidence that you may have.

Cyber Liability Insurance

Complying with HIPAA security rules will always require your participation as an organization in terms of time and money. You need to protect the patients' data with cyber liability insurance. The insurance policy will protect you in case of a data breach.

The cyber liability cover will pay the costs of notifying and protecting affected patients against fraud. If a patient sues you for giving out their personal information, the cyber liability insurance will cover legal and courts costs.

Enacting all the measures above will ensure that your organization can meet the requirements of HIPAA security rules and avoid attracting HIPAA violation fines. To schedule an appointment or get more information on HIPAA regulations, visit the Talk to Us page on our site.

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