HIPAA regulations apply to all entities in the healthcare industry. This encompasses a wide diversity of organizations that range from large coordinated healthcare systems to small doctors’ offices. The resources that are available to address HIPAA privacy concerns also vary widely, from fully staffed IT departments to individual healthcare practitioners.
Maintaining HIPAA compliance in the digital world can be very challenging, especially for healthcare professionals with limited technical expertise. As more focus is put on protecting ePHI, technology-challenged practitioners and overburdened IT staff are turning to packaged solutions to assist in attaining compliance with HIPAA standards.
Here are some HIPAA solutions that should be a part of your tech stack to ensure your organization adheres to HIPAA regulations.
HIPAA Cloud solutions
Cloud providers are offering HIPAA-compliant infrastructure and storage solutions that simplify the challenges of maintaining compliance. Organizations can quickly and easily implement an infrastructure that conforms to HIPAA guidelines. End-to-end encryption is one of the ways cloud providers ensure the privacy of ePHI.
Packaged HIPAA-compliant cloud solutions make it easy for any size healthcare organization to run its applications on a secure infrastructure without the need for a large in-house IT staff.
Related: How to Know Your Data Is Protected Within an App
HIPAA release forms signed by patients are necessary when sharing PHI. The forms follow a set format and need to contain specific pieces of information to be valid. Release forms are available from many online sources as well as plugins for popular web hosting platforms like WordPress.
Smaller providers or companies that need an occasional release form can easily obtain them in this way and comply with HIPAA regulations. Formstack.com is a leading HIPAA Forms provider, backed by world-class security.
Did you know? Formstack's HIPAA compliant forms offer a versatile way to securely manage sensitive information, like PHI.
HIPAA Email and Text Messaging
All ePHI must be protected with strong and reliable encryption whether in use, in transit, or at rest to be HIPAA compliant, unless patient approval for unencrypted communication has been obtained. This applies to emails and text messages sent between providers, patients, and third parties.
HIPAA email rules require covered entities to implement access controls, audit controls, integrity controls, ID authentication, and transmission security. These actions need to be taken to:
- Restrict access to PHI
- Monitor how PHI is communicated
- Ensure message accountability
- Ensure the integrity of PHI at rest
- Protect PHI from unauthorized access during transit
Text messages are subject to the same set of requirements. Off-the-shelf and public email and text messaging solutions do not provide the necessary level of security to attain HIPAA compliance.
Healthcare organizations need to adopt secure messaging solutions that encapsulate PHI within a private communications network that can only be accessed by authorized users. This functionality can be reached through in-house efforts or by partnering with a third-party provider offering verifiable security.
HIPAA compliance standards will continue to evolve to address changes in technology, privacy concerns, and public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations in the healthcare industry need to stay apprised of changes to the regulations to avoid being in violation. Besides being subject to fines, non-compliance puts sensitive patient information at risk which should be a major consideration of all professionals working in the healthcare field.
To ensure your company stays HIPAA compliant, you need to first establish if you have the resources to continue to stay compliant or if a third party should be contacted to help. Depending on many factors, the majority of companies will continue to utilize third-party service providers to ensure their compliance from cloud hosting, secure email, staff training, and user device security.
About the Author
Atlantic.Net contributed this content. Atlantic.Net is a HIPAA Compliant Cloud Provider. Connect with Atlantic.net @atlanticnet