How Do You Become HIPAA Compliant?

As a business owner who uses technology to better run your business, it is important to stay up-to-date not only with ever-evolving technology but the standards and regulations that we apply to them as well. HIPAA compliance is one such set of regulations that applies to any healthcare IT company.

These regulations cover a range of rules regarding electronic health care data, and any companies using healthcare IT must ensure they meet all of their standards. We’re going to look at steps that can help your business become HIPAA compliant and how a hosted service provider could help.

Assess the vulnerability of your IT systems

One of businesses’ most common issues with HIPAA compliance regulations is actually keeping their protected data safe. It’s easier said than done, and many companies simply don’t know where to start, let alone the ultimate level of security they need.

Aside from having a range of professional quality safeguards in place, such as anti-malware, firewalls, and the like, you should also test you risk exposure on a regular basis. This preemptively stops hackers from gaining unauthorized access to your data.

Ensure company email accounts are secure

Employee email accounts so regularly become a cesspool of unauthorized data sharing, even though your staff usually has your company’s best interests at heart. That’s why it’s important to establish a clear email policy. 

Train your employees to follow specific HIPAA compliant protocols, teach them how to spot phishing scams, and most importantly, encourage them to report suspicious emails to management.

If your company regularly deals with personal health information, it’s a good idea to regularly test your email system’s security. According to the HHS Office for Civil Rights, it’s vital that your email systems meet current HIPAA regulations. 

You may want to go a step further and make sure that you’re using encrypted emails to protect all data sent through your system, as well. Otherwise, you should recommend to patients that they be cautious about what details they share with you via email.

Ensure you’re prepared in the event of a breach

Your data security and privacy policies should not be created with the assumption that they are going to protect you from 100% of data breaches. That may be the end goal, but there is always a possibility that a breach will happen and it’s essential that you are prepared for it.

When you’re 100% focused on running your business (as you should be), you simply don’t have the ability to stay 100% focused on cybersecurity, too. That’s where IT services for healthcare come in.

A fully managed IT team can help you identify a potential breach as soon as possible because they constantly monitor your systems for suspicious activity. With your authority, that team can then isolate and remove the threat much more quickly. It’s also essential for any HIPAA-regulated companies to document and notify authorities of the following investigation into the causes and events of the breach.

Establish a HIPAA Compliance Privacy Officer & Security Officer

One or two people can play the roles of HIPAA privacy officer and security officer. In some cases, a member of a managed services team can play one of these roles or can at least work closely with the person you name to the role. This person can make sure that existing practices meet all HIPAA regulatory standards and can make recommendations to better meet them in the future.

Document your HIPAA compliance practices in written policy

Aside from carrying out the recommendations above, healthcare businesses should take the time to develop and document the data security and privacy policies that they rely on. If it comes to the point of being inspected for HIPAA compliance, then having these policies on hand can provide evidence that your business is doing what it can to follow regulations.

As extensive as HIPAA regulation is, it can be difficult for the layman to keep track of how their company might be meeting regulations and how it might not. Partner with a managed service provider to ensure you have someone with the expertise to watch out for your interests and to recommend the right course of action when there may be a risk of noncompliance.