Understanding security and compliance is essential for health care providers and health care IT professionals alike.
Security and compliance go hand-in-hand to keep sensitive health care data safe. Health care is currently one of the fastest growing sectors of the US economy–and with the advent of new electronic and digital platforms for the storage and transmission of confidential health data, there’s never been a better time to tighten up your HIPAA compliancy.
What is Compliance?
For health care professionals, HIPAA compliance is an essential set of industry standards that are required to ensure the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI).
There are a few key HIPAA Rules that all health care providers must comply with. Two of the most important HIPAA Rules are the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the HIPAA Security Rule.
Each of the HIPAA Rules is composed of a series of national implementation standards. These standards set specific guidelines for the creation and deployment of an effective compliance program.
The HIPAA Security Rules outlines administrative, technical, and physical safeguards that all health care providers and their vendors must address. Think of them like this:
- Administrative safeguards are all about policies, procedures, documentation, and staff training.
- Technical safeguards are about implementing network security infrastructure, such as firewalls, data back-up, data encryption, and malware protection.
- Physical safeguards are the things you do to protect the physical premises of a health care office, such as locks, alarm systems, and card-key or role-based access if the organization is large enough
Therefore, in order to address security properly, health care professionals must abide by the security standards outlined in the regulation. HIPAA defines the type of security work that needs to get done, giving necessary structure to security programs and an outline to follow during the implementation process.
What is Security?
Security addresses a fundamental part of HIPAA regulation as mandated by the HIPAA Security Rule. The security infrastructure required by HIPAA regulation is meant to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of PHI. Specifically as it applies to HIPAA, the most important thing to ensure is that PHI is being kept private and secure.
Security is where the value of a health IT professional’s expertise comes in handy. Likely, the security measures mandated by HIPAA will already be standards among your service offerings. Things like email encryption, data encryption, firewalls, penetration testing, cyber-security infrastructure, and security risk assessments are all important elements of a proper security program that also address HIPAA requirements for security.
Compliance and Security: Why You Need BOTH
The truth is, no compliance program is complete without security measures to go along with it, and no health IT security infrastructure is totally effective without an overarching compliance program.
The two are inextricably linked–and by partnering SCA, healthcare professionals in Atlanta can start helping health care clients stop worrying about HIPAA compliance.