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What are the Top Challenges to HIPAA Compliance?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) affects thousands of companies around the U.S., including many that support health care providers instead of delivering care directly themselves.Many organizations find HIPAA compliance challenging. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has found organizations non-compliant with HIPAA in 70 percent of its investigations, and large-scale breaches, such as at Anthem and Premera Blue Cross, have made headlines and clearly demonstrated the severity of the threat posed by hackers. The difference between the data handling practices of the compliant 30 percent and the non-compliant 70 percent frequently comes down to a single change or set of changes. In data collection, storage, and transmission, the details are important, and a small adjustment can be the difference between a hefty fine and a sterling reputation.HealthITSecurity.com polled its readers about HIPAA compliance and audit challenges in 2016 and found that external data security threats are the top concern for 32 percent of healthcare IT professionals, slightly ahead of both employee training and evolving technology, each the top concern for 28 percent of respondents.The Office of Civil Rights (OCR), which enforces HIPAA compliance for the Department of Health and Human Services, reviewed over 100 healthcare institutions in 2017 and found the vast majority struggling with information security risk planning, performing security risks analysis, providing patient’s access to their personal health information (PHI), as well as providing notifications of privacy practices and breach notifications. For small and medium-sized businesses, there are many potentially challenging requirements of HIPAA. Start with some of the most common issues, like those below, because one or more of them seem to apply to most HIPAA covered entities or business associates. Subscribe to the Liquid Web weekly newsletter to get more content on HIPAA compliance sent to your inbox. HIPAA Compliance and CybersecurityWhile hackers are behind some of the most damaging data breaches, internal actors are actually a greater threat to organizational cybersecurity, according to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigation Report, so a holistic view of data security is important.There are a few key areas of HIPAA compliance relating to cybersecurity. The “minimum necessary requirement” of the Privacy Rule mandates both covered entities and their business associates to prevent access to and exposure of PHI to only those who need it as part of their jobs. HIPAA requires that data be stored and remain available while it is needed, and many states have rules about how long this is, but also that it be permanently destroyed or deleted when its storage is no longer necessary. In this case, “permanently” is the important word – moving sensitive records to a computer’s trash or recycle bin does not meet this requirement, and is, therefore, a HIPAA violation.You have set and enforce the right policies, but a quality managed service provider has and can set up all of the cybersecurity tools you need.More Breaches Through EmailEven a quick glance at the OCR’s “wall of shame” reveals a striking trend: there are more breaches through email than through network servers, electronic medical records, desktop and laptop computers, paper and film, or portable electronic devices. Out of 163 incidents between January 1, 2019, and late May, 67 involved email (41 percent).Some of these incidents are surely related directly to hacks that can be prevente ...Read more

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