Author Archives: Ian

What Is The Best HIPAA Compliance Software?

The best HIPAA compliance software is an effective compliance management tool that helps a covered entity navigate the complexities and stringent requirements of  HIPAA compliance.

The vast majority of healthcare organizations in the USA do not employ a professional compliance officer and HIPAA compliance falls to an administrator or practice manager. This guide is aimed at these people. If you are a compliance professional then please see our guide to Healthcare Compliance Software (Ian add hyperlink).

What Are The Benefits Of HIPAA Compliance Software?

  • Remove the complexities and stress of compliance
  • Reduce risk
  • Increase patient loyalty and the profitability of your business

What To Consider When Purchasing HIPAA Compliance Software?

There are three aspects to consider when purchasing a HIPAA compliance software solution.

  1. Key Features or Functionality
  2. Key Components
  3. Commercial Considerations

This guide is divided into three sections covering these separate aspects requiring consideration. By following this buyer’s guide framework, the organization can make a thorough assessment of available HIPAA compliance software options and select the most suitable solution to support their compliance efforts effectively.

1. What Are The Key Features Of HIPAA Compliance Software?

The software helps healthcare providers to implement robust measures, such as encryption, access controls, auditing, and regular risk assessments. By centralizing and automating the compliance process, HIPAA compliance software optimizes data protection efforts, mitigates potential breaches, and fosters a culture of compliance within the healthcare industry.

  • Security risk assessment
  • Gap identification
  • Remediation plans
  • Proper storage of HIPAA policies and procedures
  • Employee training
  • Business Associate Agreements
  • Breach incident reporting
  • Risk assessment tools
  • Policy and procedure management
  • Access controls and user management
  • Incident response and breach management
  • Audit logging and reporting capabilities
  • Encryption and data protection measures

What other features should you consider for  your HIPAA compliance solution?

A lot goes into a healthcare compliance program, and our solution helps automate the process. Whether you need HIPAA, OSHA, SOC 2, or all three, your compliance program is fully customizable.

Our software has everything you need for compliance: templated policies and procedures, risk assessments, comprehensive training for your entire staff, vendor management, incident reporting, and more. No matter your needs, our software provides guided action items to meet your requirements with ease.

Solve healthcare compliance challenges quickly and confidently with simplified software. . Endorsed by top medical associations, clients can be confident in their compliance program.

2. What Are The Key Components Of HIPAA Compliance Software?

Scalability and Flexibility

Considerations regarding the scalability of the software to accommodate the organization’s growth and evolving compliance needs.

Integration Capabilities Examination of the software’s ability to integrate with existing IT infrastructure and other third-party applications used within the organization.

 

3. What Are The Commercial Considerations When Choosing HIPAA Compliance Software?

Do they offer comprehensive help setting up their HIPAA compliance software for you?

Do they offer a free trial period?

Do they offer discounts? For example, for an association you may belong to already.

Vendor Reputation and Support:

  • Research on the vendor’s reputation within the healthcare industry and their track record in providing reliable software solutions.
  • Availability and responsiveness of customer support services, including training resources, technical assistance, and ongoing maintenance.
  1. Cost Considerations:
    • Transparent breakdown of pricing structures, including initial setup costs, licensing fees, and any additional charges for support or updates.
    • Comparison of pricing models (e.g., one-time purchase vs. subscription-based) and considerations of long-term affordability.
  2. Case Studies and Customer References:
    • Review of case studies or testimonials from other healthcare organizations that have successfully implemented the software.
    • Requesting references to directly speak with existing customers about their experiences with the software and vendor.

 

The post What Is The Best HIPAA Compliance Software? appeared first on HIPAA Journal.

Cyber Security for Healthcare: USA Summit

The HealthSec: Cyber Security for Healthcare Summit returns for its 2nd edition in Boston, Massachusetts on June 12th – 13th!

As operations in healthcare and life sciences industries are becoming increasingly digitized and internet-connected, the attack surface is expanding and cybersecurity risks are growing.

In the light of this, healthcare security leaders from across the hospitals & healthcare systems, healthcare equipment and services, medical devices, pharma and biotech industries are preparing to gather at the summit to learn how to protect their sensitive data from cyber attacks.

CPD certified event

This CPD certified event is your chance to unite with cybersecurity leaders from the likes of Abbott, GSK, Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson through interactive sessions, as well as 6+ hours of networking, including seated lunches and a drinks reception.

Over 2 days, you’ll learn how to build resilience, mitigate risks and strengthen your cybersecurity strategy to combat new and ongoing threats through thought leadership talks, in-depth case-studies, panel discussions and roundtables. See list of speakers

Agenda highlights include:

  • A Culture of Shared Responsibility Between HDOs and MDMs: What It Looks Like, and How to Achieve It
  • How to Effectively Address Third Party Risk Management Pain Points in Healthcare
  • Case Study: Surviving a Ransomware Attack -Lessons Learned from the Healthcare Industry
  • Streamlining Regulatory Compliance in Healthcare: How Do We Get There?

For 15% discount on passes, register now using the code “HIPPA” at registration online here.

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How long does HIPAA training take?

The duration of HIPAA training varies depending on the specific needs and roles of the individuals being trained, but for healthcare staff undergoing annual HIPAA refresher training, it typically takes about 90 minutes to complete. A typical HIPAA training course covers essential topics to ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations. It starts with fundamental definitions, including Protected Health Information and the Minimum Necessary Standard, to lay a solid foundation for understanding. The course also introduces the HITECH Act, emphasizing its role in advancing healthcare IT and extending HIPAA compliance to business associates. A key section of the course is devoted to the main HIPAA Regulatory Rules, with particular attention to those most relevant for the trainees. The HIPAA Omnibus Final Rule is discussed for its impact on patient rights and violation penalties. Core modules of the course include the HIPAA Privacy Rule, focusing on the use and disclosure of PHI, and the Security Rule, which deals with the safeguarding of electronic PHI. The training educates on HIPAA Patient Rights and the proper communication of these rights. Understanding HIPAA Disclosure Rules is another critical part, enabling healthcare workers to make informed decisions about PHI disclosure. The course also tackles the consequences of HIPAA violations, teaching the importance of prompt reporting and effective mitigation strategies. Preventing common HIPAA violations, such as inadvertent disclosures, is a practical component, along with guidelines on responsible use of social media and mobile devices.

Additional Cybersecurity Training on Handling PHI

HIPAA training often includes important aspects of cybersecurity, as protecting Protected Health Information (PHI) involves safeguarding it from digital threats. Healthcare staff and anyone handling PHI need to be trained to recognize and deal with cybersecurity risks such as phishing, ransomware, and other cyber attacks. This training helps them identify potential threats and teaches them how to respond effectively to protect patient data. The aim is to ensure that everyone who deals with PHI is not just aware of the confidentiality requirements, but also has the practical skills to prevent and react to cybersecurity incidents. This approach is essential in preparing healthcare workers to handle the challenges of securing digital information.

Additional Training in Texas

In Texas, House Bill 300 (HB-300) significantly expands upon the federal HIPAA requirements, necessitating specialized training for healthcare professionals within the state. This legislation, tailored specifically to Texas, places stricter standards on the handling of Protected Health Information (PHI) and broadens the definition of covered entities. The training mandated by HB-300 goes beyond the scope of federal HIPAA training, focusing on the additional privacy and security obligations specific to Texas. Healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses, and administrative staff, are required to complete this training within a specified timeframe of their employment start date and must undergo regular updates to stay abreast of changes in the law. This ensures that all healthcare personnel in Texas are not only compliant with federal standards but also well-versed in the state’s more stringent regulations regarding patient privacy and data security.

Special HIPAA Training for Healthcare Students

Healthcare students need to undergo full HIPAA training before they can access patient PHI. This training is important to ensure they understand how to handle PHI correctly and securely, especially when using it in training reports and academic work. The focus of the training is to teach students the importance of confidentiality and the correct procedures for using PHI, in line with HIPAA regulations. It is important that they learn these rules early in their training, so they are well-prepared to manage PHI responsibly in their future healthcare roles.

HIPAA Training for HIPAA Compliance Officers

HIPAA training for HIPAA compliance officers is an extensive and thorough process, often spanning several days or even weeks, to ensure a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of HIPAA. This specialized training delves deep into the intricacies of HIPAA regulations, including privacy and security rules, patient rights, and the proper handling of Protected Health Information (PHI). Compliance officers are equipped with detailed knowledge on how to implement and maintain HIPAA standards within their organizations, manage potential breaches, and navigate complex scenarios that may arise in the course of maintaining compliance. The extended duration of this training is essential to thoroughly prepare these officers for the critical role they play in safeguarding patient privacy and ensuring their organization’s adherence to these crucial federal regulations.

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Increase Staff Productivity & Reduce No Shows With Better Patient Engagement

Healthcare organizations of any size can streamline workflows, increase staff productivity, maximize revenue and reduce no shows by up to 90% as benefits of patient engagement technology.

Benefits Of Patient Engagement TechnologyPatient-centric functionality enhances patient communications with automation, including appointment notification and reminders, online patient scheduling, waitlist management with last-minute cancellation fulfilment, patient experience surveys, and many other features. These can significantly enhance your patients’ perception and experience of your practice.

Typically, HIPAA compliant patient engagement systems integrate easily with all existing practice management software and have a fast return-on-investment.

Surveys Show Patients Appreciate Patient Engagement Technology

Healthcare providers have been slow to adopt communication technology, but according to an Accenture Survey, 60% of patients prefer to use technology for patient-provider communication. This is in part because the Covid crisis altered patient behaviors and expectations of technology usage in healthcare practices. Patients appreciated the more personalized interactions and faster response times that patient engagement technology brings.

Benefits Of Patient EngagementHighlighting the need to prioritize new patient acquisition and loyalty, an Actium survey** says 61% of patients want better patient engagement. 44% of respondents said they don’t regularly see their doctor and 30% said they don’t have a usual source of care, leaving the door open for organizations to register new patients.  The consumers interviewed also said that stronger patient engagement will help them go to clinics for preventive screenings and wellness checks.

Better Patient Experiences

By offering a better patient experience healthcare providers will bring patients into their clinics and keep them coming back. Adding patient engagement to practice management systems enables a clinic to connect with patients in a way that not only engages, but activates, them and makes the patient experience frictionless.

HIPAA compliant patient engagement can be easily added to any existing practice management system to enhance patient communication.

Benefits Of Patient Engagement To Healthcare Providers

  • Benefits Of Patient Engagement To Healthcare ProvidersReduce No Shows – Up to a 90% improvement in missed appointments.
  • Maximize Revenue – Patient engagement systems automatically fill empty schedule slots and encouraging annual wellness visits generates downstream revenue.
  • Improved Productivity & Focus On Patients – Streamlining and automating 24 x 7 communication reduces the burden on front desk, eliminates errors, and enable staff to spend more time on patient care.
  • More Patients – Healthcare providers who offer 24 x 7 interaction with the practice attract more patients. Recent studies show that younger patients in particular actively seek out and are willing to switch to healthcare providers that offer better digital interaction.
  • Patient Loyalty – Better communication fosters patient loyalty and trust. The added option of post-appointment surveys allow clinics to adapt to individual patients’ needs.
  • Works With Existing Practice Management Systems – A patient engagement solution integrates with all existing practice management systems meaning it is simple and fast to add.

Benefits Of Patient Engagement To Patients

Patient Engagement SystemsAnother Actium survey* highlighted two of the top reasons that patients don’t utilize preventive care as “Making appointments is too much of a hassle” and “I simply forget to make them”. They say 61% consumers surveyed report that they would like to hear more from their doctor.

Implementing a patient engagement system can have many benefits for patients, including:

  • Convenience – 24 x 7 self-scheduling is far more convenient for patients who don’t want to call the clinic when they are busy with work or personal business.
  • Self-Care – Automation encourages patients to set appointments and keep their healthcare on track.
  • Digital Registration & Forms – patients can fill out forms at their convenience before visits.

Features Of Patient Engagement Technology

Automated Appointment Notifications

  • Automatically sends reminders to patients as you or they book in appointments to reduce no-show rates.
  • Create a series of two-way customized automatic notifications to confirm and remind patients of upcoming appointments.
  • Works seamlessly with existing scheduling software and spreadsheets.
  • Integrates with EHRs and EMRs.
  • HIPAA compliant and encrypted.

Patient Self-Scheduling

  • Patients can book their own appointments 24 x 365.
  • Include ‘Schedule Now’ or ‘Request an Appointment’ links in specified notifications and reminders and on your website, social media pages and email newsletters.
  • The clinic has full control over when patients can book appointments and how long they need for each appointment type.

Waitlist Management

  • Detects cancellations in schedules and automatically fills these vacant spots with people on the waiting list.

Continuing-Care Notifications

  • Notifies patients when they are due continuing-care appointments using your scheduling and delivery preferences.

Patient Reactivation

  • Identifies patients who are overdue for appointments by monitoring visit history and recall schedules.
  • Automatically notifies them to set appointments and keep their healthcare on track.
  • Sends reminders to schedule overdue appointments.
  • Extra reminders demonstrate to patients you care about them and value their patronage. These reminders can have a significant impact on overall retention rates.

Auto Rescheduling

  • Automate the time-consuming task of rescheduling patients after appointment cancellations and no-shows. The auto-rescheduling feature detects these events and automatically contacts patients to get them rescheduled without relying on staff’ intervention.

Fill My Schedule Now

  • Maximize revenue by filling empty slots in your schedule. Fill My Schedule Now only contacts patients that match the exact parameters set by the clinic, and those patients can then easily self-book their own appointments.

Digital Registration Forms

  • Digital registration enables you to email or text patients a link to a registration form they can fill out at their convenience before visits.

Find Out More

Find out more about the Benefits Of Patient EngagementFind out more about the benefits of patient engagement solutions by filling in a form on this page. You will be contacted by a member of staff from Rectangle Health our page sponsor.

You can ask questions, request a demonstration, or arrange a no risk evaluation, all with no obligation.

Since 1983 Rectangle Health has been providing technology solutions exclusively for healthcare organizations. Their fully HIPAA compliant solutions are used by over 60,000 healthcare providers in the U.S and they process over $6 billion of patient payments annually.


 

The HIPAA Journal has arranged a 10% reader discount on Rectangle’s list price for their patient engagement solution.

By supporting one of our sponsors, you are helping The HIPAA Journal to continue to provide our news service free of charge.

The post Increase Staff Productivity & Reduce No Shows With Better Patient Engagement appeared first on HIPAA Journal.

Improve Patient Satisfaction With Enhanced Payment Options

Offering modern HIPAA compliant patient payment solutions provides a better customer experience for patients, encourages timely payment and is proven to bring financial savings and improved operational efficiency to any size of healthcare practice.

Adding multiple up-to-date payment options leads to improvements in satisfaction and retention levels. For example, making it convenient for patients to pay from their phones by automatically communicating balances and payment options by text and email, practice staff will spend on average 30% less time on payment collection and posting. Plus the practice will see a significant reduction in its accounts receivable numbers.

Non-Payment Is Bad For Both Patients And Healthcare Providers

Non-payment is known to be one of the main reasons why patients switch healthcare providers. Patients can become anxious when they owe money and frustrated if they find it difficult to make a payment.

Digital patient payment solutions that can be easily integrated with all existing practise management systems make it more convenient for patients to settle their medical bills. They also bring a wide array of benefits to the practice, such as improved cash flow, reduced AR rates, and staff efficiency.

Recent studies show that younger patients are open to switching healthcare provider to one that offers finance and convenient digital payments.

Features Of Patient Payment Solutions

If you don’t have digital payment options available, consider upgrading to add a variety of choices that make it easier for patients to pay their bills. Some examples include:

1. Contactless Payments

HIPAA Compliant Contactless Payments For PatientsContactless patient payment solutions are secure and can protect staff and patients’ health and safety by allowing patients to pay by touching their mobile device or card to a digital reader.

Offering contactless also means that if someone has forgotten their wallet, they can still make a payment with Apple Pay®, Google Pay™, SamsungPay® or a digital wallet.

Because contactless payments do not require patients to enter a PIN, swipe a card, or sign for a transaction, they decrease the time patients need to spend at the front desk, reducing queues and allowing your team to focus more of their valuable time on other tasks.

2. Patient Financing

Healthcare providers can encourage patients to seek medical care by offering patient financing as part of an upgraded payment solution.  The option of manageable monthly payments empowers patients to access the essential treatment they need.

Offer Patient Finance As A Payment OptionMultiple financing options are offered to patients just 30 seconds after applying, and the vast majority get approved.

Healthcare providers who offer patient financing will enhance their practice and are helping their patients who may otherwise pay surprise medical bills with expensive credit card debt.

Patient financing can strengthen cash flow and dramatically reduce accounts receivable numbers with zero risk to the practice, while at the same time increasing patient loyalty.

3. Online Payments

Online Patient Payment Solutions For HealthcarePart of a modern payment solution suite is a secure online payment gateway, allowing patients to pay online 24 x 7. Optimized for mobile devices, it also works with laptops and desktop computers, allowing patients to make payments from home or on the go.

A payment link can be added to your website, to emails, texts, and any other patient communications. This means patients will have a seamless and smooth payment experience.

Being fully integrated with your practice management software payments will be automatically posted to the patient ledger or electronic health records. This reduces errors and helps staff to monitor transactions.

4. Card On File

Card on file is functionality that allows a practice, with consent from the patient, to store their payment information securely and conveniently in a secure HIPAA compliant vault hosted in the cloud. 43% of patients say they are comfortable with automatic payments to avoid repetitive manual data entry of their debit or credit card.

Secure Online Vault For Payment SolutionsWhen patients leave a payment method on file, it means one less step during future checkouts. This can even be done ahead of visits when a patient fills out a digital registration form. The front desk can make the payment for the patient at checkout with no need to dig around for cards and a payment receipt will be automatically sent by email.

A card update feature checks stored card information and if anything has changed, the payment information is automatically updated in the vault. This saves staff time keeping up with payment information.

The healthcare organization is also protected from chargebacks or legal disputes with card on file agreements that are built in to the system and are kept on file with a patient’s record, and which can be emailed or printed for patients’ own records.

5. Subscription Payments

ubscription Payment Options For Healthcare ProvidersCard on file also enables healthcare providers to set up an automatically recurring payment to allow a patient to pay down a large out-of-pocket expense over several months. For many patients, having this interest-free option can make the difference between choosing to avail of medical care or not. This flexible payment option is a highly practical way for healthcare providers to receive more incoming payments and for patients to afford their treatment.

6. Increased Security & Fraud Prevention

With modern patient payment systems, data is never stored on the premises or servers of a healthcare provider.  Instead, the application stores all customer data in a secure, encrypted, electronic vault which is compliant with all relevant standards such as PCI, DSS, and HIPAA. The practice is also protected from the cost of fraud. Risk management experts monitor transactions and maximize security in order to detect attempts at fraud.

Summary Of Benefits To Healthcare Providers

Better Patient Payment SolutionsStreamlining your payment processes with a patient payment solution that seamlessly integrates with your existing practise management systems brings many business benefits while also providing an improved patient experience.

  • Reduced AR – Dramatically reduces accounts receivable numbers.
  • Stronger Cash Flow – Better payment options, including flexible financing means patients are able to pay medical bills immediately.
  • More Focus On Patients – Patient payment solutions bring greater staff efficiency allowing them to spend more time on patient care and less time on administration duties.
  • More Patients – Practices that offer digital payments bring in more new patients and have higher retention levels.
  • Increased Operating Margins – Practices that get paid more quickly and have less bad debts have lower accounting costs and higher margins.

Benefits Of Upgrading Payment Solutions For Patients

Empowering patients to pay bills from anywhere at any time with any internet connected device fosters patient loyalty and trust.

  • Empowerment – Flexible and varied payment options mean patients can confidently access the treatments they need.
  • Convenience – Multiple payment options provides a better, more convenient customer experience for patients.
  • Affordability – Spreading the cost with regular subscription payments or financing allows patients to receive the care they need and budget appropriately.

Find Out More About Patient Payment Solutions

Find out more about patient payment solutions by filling in a form on this page. You will be contacted by a member of staff from Rectangle Health our page sponsor.

Find out more about the Benefits Of Patient EngagementYou can ask questions, request a demonstration, or arrange a no risk evaluation, all with no obligation.

Since 1983 Rectangle Health has been providing financial technology solutions exclusively for healthcare organizations. Their fully HIPAA compliant solutions are used by over 60,000 healthcare providers in the U.S and they process over $6 billion of patient payments annually.


 

The HIPAA Journal has arranged a 25% reader discount on Rectangle’s list price for their patient payment solutions.

By supporting one of our sponsors, you are helping The HIPAA Journal to continue to provide our news service free of charge.

The post Improve Patient Satisfaction With Enhanced Payment Options appeared first on HIPAA Journal.

Patient Payment Options

patient payment options

Patient financing solution helps patients afford care, regardless of their credit score. With this non-recourse financing, you can focus on the treatment, and not on chasing payments.

Patient Financing

Allowing patients to say “yes” to treatment with financing options for all

Our patient financing solution helps patients afford care, regardless of their credit score. With this non-recourse financing, you can focus on the treatment, and not on chasing payments. All of the financing details are handled by Rectangle Health’s financing partner HFD, and practices receive payment shortly after patients sign up with HFD.

Patients receive multiple payment plan offers just 30 seconds after applying, and HFD handles payments so you don’t have to.
Nearly every single patient* is approved for financing. Our approval rates are unmatched.
Applications are started, and their status is visible, right inside Practice Management Bridge®– no third-party portals here.
younger patients may be switching to providers that offer digital payment solutions. This is not uncommon. According to the recent studyproduced by PYMNTS and Rectangle Health, “35% of bridge millennials and other younger patients are willing to switch healthcare providers to find better digital healthcare management tools

 

Digital payments mean fewer billing surprises for patients and easier revenue cycle management for healthcare providers.

Payments modernization means better customer experiences for patients as well as long-term, sustainable growth for private and group practices alike.

The post Patient Payment Options appeared first on HIPAA Journal.

FREE WEBINAR NEXT WEEK: Healthcare Compliance: Driving Effective Compliance Forward

April 25th Webinar: Healthcare Compliance: Driving Effective Compliance Forward

If you are a HIPAA Officer or have complete responsibility for compliance with all regulations in your organization, are you 100% certain that all of your policies and procedures are effective? If regulators notified you tomorrow that you had been selected for a comprehensive compliance audit, would you welcome the chance to demonstrate that your organization has dotted all the i’s, crossed all the t’s, and has implemented an effective compliance program?

According to a recent Deloitte survey, only 66% of compliance professionals are measuring the effectiveness of the policies and procedures in their compliance programs. In the event of a compliance audit, 34% of compliance professionals could not be certain that the policies and procedures they have developed are effective in practice. For the 66% of compliance professionals who do measure the effectiveness of their policies and procedures, how are they measuring effectiveness? What metrics are used to determine how well internal policies and procedures are working?

In April, the compliance experts at Compliancy Group will be hosting a webinar for compliance professionals to explain what it means for a compliance program to be effective and the most important benchmarks to keep track of. The webinar will also include a comprehensive overview of the HHS Office of Inspector General’s 7 Elements of an Effective Compliance Program, and strategies will be shared on how to ensure that compliance programs are effective.

For compliance officers who are not monitoring the effectiveness of their compliance programs, the webinar will be invaluable. Compliance officers who are monitoring the effectiveness of their policies and procedures will learn tips and tricks on how they can make a bigger impact in the organization they serve.

The webinar will be hosted by Liam Degnan, Senior Solutions Engineer at Compliancy Group. Liam Degnan has 8+ years of compliance experience, including risk management, SaaS sales, and regulatory compliance in the healthcare space. Liam advises healthcare decision-makers, healthcare providers, and medical vendors and speaks on a variety of platforms and topics, with an emphasis on simplifying HIPAA, OSHA, SOC 2, and other general healthcare compliance regulations.

To register for the webinar, complete the form on the right and make a note of the date in your diary. If you would like any specific compliance questions answered, you can ask them live in the webinar or email them to Compliancy Group in advance at webinar@compliancygroup.com

Free Webinar Details

Thursday, April 25, 2024

11:00 a.m. PT ¦ 12:00 p.m. MT ¦ 1:00 pm CT ¦ 2:00 pm ET

Host: Compliancy Group

Speaker: Liam Degnan, Compliancy Group, Senior Solutions Engineer

The post FREE WEBINAR NEXT WEEK: Healthcare Compliance: Driving Effective Compliance Forward appeared first on HIPAA Journal.

How to Secure Healthcare Data

HIPAA-regulated entities must ensure that protected health information (PHI) is safeguarded against unauthorized access, but many covered entities and business associates do not know how to secure healthcare data properly and leave sensitive information exposed.

The HIPAA Security Rule

The HIPAA Security Rule established national standards to protect individuals’ electronic personal health information (ePHI) that is created, received, used, or maintained by HIPAA-covered entities and their business associates. The Security Rule requires appropriate administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to be implemented to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI. All regulated entities must assess security risks throughout their organziation and implement a range of different safeguards to protect against unauthorized ePHI access, and ensure all risks are reduced to a low and acceptable level.

How to Protect Healthcare Data and Comply with HIPAA

The HIPAA Security Rule was developed to be flexible to ensure that it applies to covered entities of all types and sizes and includes required implementation specifications that must be implemented by all regulated entities, and addressable implementation specifications, which require an assessment to determine if the specification is reasonable and appropriate. If not, the Security Rule permits an alternative mechanism to be implemented to meet the standard addressed by that specification.

Administrative Safeguards

Administrative safeguards under HIPAA are defined as “administrative actions, and policies and procedures, to manage the selection, development, implementation, and maintenance of security measures to protect electronic protected health information and to manage the conduct of the covered entity’s or business associate’s workforce in relation to the protection of that information.”

Administrative safeguards include security management processes to prevent, detect, contain, and correct security violations. These include a comprehensive, organization-wide risk analysis to identify all risks and vulnerabilities to ePHI, risk management processes to reduce risks and vulnerabilities to a low and acceptable level, a sanctions policy, and information system activity reviews.

Staff members must be assigned responsibility for security, policies and procedures must be implemented to ensure workforce security, and a security awareness and training program is required for all members of the workforce. Administrative safeguards also include authorization, supervision, information access management, and contingency planning.

Physical Safeguards

HIPAA defines physical safeguards as “physical measures, policies, and procedures to protect a covered entity’s or business associate’s electronic information systems and related buildings and equipment, from natural and environmental hazards, and unauthorized intrusion.”

Physical safeguards include facility access controls to restrict access to physical PHI and electronic systems where ePHI is stored, contingency operations, facility security plans, access controls and validation procedures, and maintenance records.

Physical safeguards are required for workstation use and workstation security, with policies and procedures implemented to ensure that job functions can be performed in a secure way, prevent inappropriate use of computers, and restrict access to authorized users. Device and media controls should be implemented that govern the receipt and removal of hardware and electronic media that contain ePHI into and out of a facility, and the movement of the devices within the facility.

Technical Safeguards

HIPAA defines technical safeguards “the technology and the policy and procedures for its use that protect electronic protected health information and control access to it.” Technical safeguards include hardware, software, and other technology that protects and limits access to ePHI through access controls, audit controls, integrity controls, authentication, and transmission security.

Access controls are required to restrict access to ePHI to authorized individuals only, audit controls are necessary for monitoring activity on systems containing ePHI, integrity controls prevent the improper alteration or destruction of ePHI, and transmission security ensures that ePHI is protected when it is transmitted over an electronic network.

The HIPAA Security Rule does not specify the specific technologies that should be used to secure healthcare data and restrict access. HIPAA-regulated entities have the flexibility to implement security measures to comply with each standard and achieve its objectives. The HHS Security Series provides guidance on the administrative safeguards, physical safeguards, and the technical safeguards of the HIPAA Security Rule.

The Insider Threat Problem in Healthcare

Security Rule compliance requires ePHI to be safeguarded to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI and many of the implementation specifications are concerned with preventing access to ePHI by unauthorized third parties; however, threats can originate from within an organziation. Employees, contractors, interns, and other staff members can be just as dangerous as outside actors, in fact some of the most damaging incidents have been caused by insiders.

According to Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), insider incidents are on the rise. For several years, healthcare was the only industry where insiders caused more breaches than external actors. While the situation is improving, the 2023 DBIR indicates 35% of healthcare data breaches were caused by insiders.

Insider threats take many forms and include careless and negligent workers, where there is no conscious decision to act inappropriately. Disgruntled employees pose a significant threat and perform deliberate actions to cause harm to their organziation. Malicious insiders abuse their privileges for personal or financial gain, and threat actors often recruit or coerce individuals into stealing data or performing other actions such as installing malware. Insider threats are one of the biggest security challenges to address in healthcare. Insiders usually have legitimate access to ePHI and knowledge of internal systems and data locations, and their actions can be difficult to identify as cybersecurity solutions such as intrusion detection systems are primarily focused on detecting and blocking external threats.

Securing healthcare data against insider threats and detecting insider threats promptly requires a combination of measures including security policies, screening of new hires, user activity monitoring, logging, auditing, incident detection and response, user and entity behavior analytics, and employee education. Malicious insider threats are far less common than negligent and careless employees, which often cause the most harm. Accidental data leaks and employee errors are by far the largest risk and cause the most data breaches. Oftentimes, these incidents are the result of unclear security policies, employees’ lack of awareness of policies, and a failure to provide security awareness training. Improving education is vital in combatting these incidents. Security policies should be easy to understand, security awareness training should be provided regularly, employees must be made aware of the HIPAA Rules and the sanctions policy for violations.

Risk can be reduced through administrative safeguards, such as ensuring employees have appropriate access rights to ePHI and systems containing ePHI. Audits should be performed of access rights to check who has access to data and systems, and to ensure that the rights are appropriate. Detecting incident incidents quickly is vital. One of the reasons why insider breaches are so harmful is they often go undetected for long periods. Having the right software in place is critical in this regard. For instance, Safetica offers a software solution for healthcare organizations that can help with the discovery of ePHI, restrict whether data can be shared with third parties, control and monitor employee access to ePHI, and rapidly detect unauthorized access and employee errors that may expose ePHI, providing insider threat and data leak protection.  Safetica can limit file operations with personal information and ePHI, such as uploading, copying, printing, and even taking screenshots, all of which feature in the list of common HIPAA violations. Without systems in place to manage ePHI, unauthorised access to medical records can persist for years without detection. According to Safetica CTO Zbyněk Sopuch, One of the key use cases of utilising data loss prevention tools like Safetica in healthcare settings is to ensure that access to sensitive ePHI is given only to the right personnel by monitoring and controlling the flow of data, preventing unauthorised access while safeguarding sensitive information and staying in compliance with HIPAA regulations.” Systems like Safetica provide immediate alerts for data security incidents. It has been found that real time alerts, which has been  proven to reduce repeat offences by staff by 95%

Securing healthcare data is complex and involves implementing robust encryption protocols, strict access controls, regular security audits, up-to-date software patching, comprehensive staff training in data handling and privacy regulations, utilizing strong authentication methods, employing intrusion detection systems, and maintaining physical security measures to prevent unauthorized access or breaches and ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive patient information.

 

 

 

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HIPAA Pays Off: Why Invest in Compliance – Free Webinar Aug 17

Are you aware that investing in HIPAA compliance can actually result in increased revenue? Conversely, putting HIPAA compliance on the back burner can be detrimental to the organization.

The HIPAA compliance specialists, Compliancy Group, will be hosting a webinar to explain how investing in compliance can result in increased revenue.

Attendees will learn how and why investing time and money into HIPAA compliance can result in a positive year and will be provided with real-life examples of HIPAA-regulated entities that have invested time and money into their HIPAA compliance programs and have reaped the benefits.

Free Webinar Details

Thursday, August 17, 2023

11:00 a.m. PT ¦ 12:00 p.m. MT ¦ 1:00 pm CT ¦ 2:00 pm ET

Host: Compliancy Group

Speaker: Liam Degnan, Compliancy Group, Director of Strategic Initiatives

Please Use The Form On This Page To Sign Up

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