By CTI | Mar 07, 2019 | Blog

Is your IT team ready to take on HIPAA compliance? Luckily for you, there were no major changes made to regulations in 2019. All that time you would have spent scrambling to adhere to new requirements can now be used to improve your existing processes. To help you navigate compliance in 2019, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of action items your IT team can use to protect against potential threats.

Can IT Help Businesses Stay Compliant?

HIPAA has the potential to affect every aspect of your business by imposing numerous, high-level data privacy and security requirements. Thus, IT teams play a more critical role in the compliance process than usual.

IT is responsible for participating in HIPAA-related audits and assessments, such as security control assessments, risk assessments, and compliance gap assessments. These critical internal audits highlight shortcomings in your business’s information security practices. Any gaps found to have an impact on regulatory compliance need to be addressed quickly, and it’s often up to the IT team to make those changes.

Security Measures

HIPAA requires organizations to maintain certain administrative policies and procedures that guide the protection and handling of patient information. Unfortunately, few organizations truly understand the sheer volume of documentation that must be created to meet these requirements. Without a CCO, CIO, CISO, or other designated individual to drive security program efficiency, it can be hard to practically maintain that documentation.

When the substantial fines associated with HIPAA are considered, it’s critical to make sure security breaches and data leaks don’t happen in the first place. Awareness and training is the easiest and most effective way to ensure your employees are up for the task. Regular training for users, administrators, and IT personnel prepares teams for the complex task of managing and using protected data in compliance with HIPAA regulations.

Some of the key internal processes you can leverage to help understand your compliance with HIPAA include:

  • Internal risk assessments to test your systems and processes to highlight areas that need improvement.
  • Data loss prevention to keep sensitive patient information secure and build a process to ensure data security in the future.
  • Password management and training to limit the risk associated with credential compromise.
  • Data encryption to add an additional layer of protection for stored and/or transmitted patient information.
  • Disaster Recovery planning to ensure that you have strong response procedures in place in the event of a security breach.

Ongoing Compliance Initiatives

HIPAA compliance is not a set it and forget it deal—it requires rigorous monitoring on a regular basis. IT teams have their work cut out for them with ongoing system maintenance and management. Medical devices deployed throughout the organization such as mobile carts, scanners, vitals machines, and other devices also need to enforce HIPAA-recommended data security practices. It‘s up to IT to ensure that the data generated and transmitted by these machines is handled appropriately and not disclosed without authorization.

Top Priorities

As you can see, IT has a lot of responsibility in maintaining HIPAA compliance, and it can be difficult to know where or how to start. Here are some of the main areas that CTI focuses on first:

  • Annual security assessments— continuous annual assessments provide valuable insight into the areas of your business that need to be prioritized for compliance.
  • Regular gap remediation— One of the most thorough methods of understanding your organization’s level of compliance is to work through the HIPAA standard, identify any associated gaps in your information security program, and plan for any necessary remediations.
  • Proactive risk management—we always develop a plan to anticipate future concerns. A coordinated risk management plan makes monitoring and managing HIPAA requirements a breeze. Reactionary efforts may fix a problem, but usually with greater costs and reputational damage.

Achieving HIPAA compliance may not be a simple task, but employing the right strategies can make the process much easier. If you need any help along the way, CTI has HIPAA experts standing by to provide support. Contact us if you have any questions, and we’ll help you on the road to HIPAA compliance.