Boost HIPAA Compliance & Increase Revenues
Working in the healthcare industry means more than treating patients. In addition to patient care, your practice’s staff also has to maintain compliance with complicated, regularly updated HIPAA regulations — are you sure you’re compliant?
When it comes to security and compliance, a lot of smaller healthcare practices think they can get away with little to no effort.
Because they think they’re flying under the radar. Because they don’t think they have the resources to spend on better compliance and security solutions. Because they have a small staff that’s focused on what they believe to be more pressing matters.
Not only is this all untrue — it’s dangerous. Is your medical practice risking a data breach and HIPAA non-compliance fines?
For an overview of the healthcare industry cybersecurity landscape and how to handle HIPAA compliance, check out our latest webinar, led by Mike Shelah and featuring special guest, Steven Lazar, Global Healthcare & Life Sciences CTO, Dell Technologies:
ePHI Is Valuable & Noncompliance Is Expensive
It’s important to understand that healthcare organizations deal with the most valuable data on the market: healthcare information. Single healthcare records can be sold for as much as $250 – $300 apiece on the dark web.
That’s why cybercrime is so prevalent in the healthcare sector. FireEye researchers have noticed an increase in targeted attacks against healthcare organizations that house large amounts of valuable patient data. This is opposed to the conventional “wide-net” approach to cybercrime attacks, which are more opportunistic, targeting as many organizations as possible and hoping for the best.
These hackers are using credential theft malware, ransomware, extortion campaigns, and cryptomining to execute these attacks. Over the past two years, many databases associated with healthcare have been put up for sale on the dark web, as well as the sale of access to healthcare systems in these markets.
What’s more, failing to stay compliant can carry severe penalties.
Fines for HIPAA violations range from $100 to $50,000 and there’s a maximum penalty of $1.5 million for repeat violations. You can also end up with criminal charges resulting in jail time. HIPAA compliance isn’t something you can afford to overlook.
The fact is that noncompliance can cost you a lot. How much? In theory, as much as $ 1.6 million.
That’s not an exaggeration — not too long ago, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission was hit with that big of a fine for failing to conduct an organization-wide HIPAA risk analysis, as well as for being generally non-compliant.
What Should Your HIPAA Compliance Strategy Include?
Whether you’re managing your HIPAA compliance on your own, or you’ve invested in healthcare IT solutions for your practice, you need to have a strategy in place.
Have you taken care of the following?
- Develop A Plan: With roughly 50 “implementation specifications” split up into administrative, physical, and technical safeguards, the HIPAA Security Rule is a lot to take in. Instead of wading right into the specifics, take the time to understand the big picture. A resource like the HHS website can help you get started.
- Give The Proper Responsibilities To The Proper Individuals: You’ll need to appoint a Privacy and Security Officer as part of your HIPAA requirements. While not specifically asked for, you’ll also need to have members of your team handling compliance documentation. Individuals with good organizational and writing skills are needed in this position, given that documenting your actions is a huge part of HIPAA compliance. A designated Security Officer and clear documentation are required to meet the Administrative Safeguards.
- Make Sure Your Staff Contributes To Compliance: An effective HIPAA compliance plan has to teach your staff how to handle a range of potential situations:
- How to participate in compliance best practices.
- How to identify and address suspicious emails, phishing attempts, social engineering tactics, and more.
- How to use business technology without exposing patient data and other assets to external threats by accident.
- How to respond when you suspect that your organization is noncompliant.
- Plan Ahead For Future Audits and Reviews: You are required by HIPAA to regularly revisit your HIPAA compliance policies and procedures in order to make sure they keep in line with changes to regulations, and changes within your organization. The more meticulous and systematic your documentation is to start off with, the easier it will be to go back and make periodic reviews or make adjustments down the road.
- Don’t Assume You’re Invulnerable: You’ll never be so compliant and so secure that you’re risk-free. This entire process is about minimizing, not eliminating risk. That’s why you need a plan in place for when you suspect you have experienced a breach or become noncompliant. Have contingencies in place for the worst-case scenarios, so that you’re never caught off guard.
When Was The Last Time You Double Checked Your HIPAA Compliance?
You are required by HIPAA to regularly revisit your HIPAA compliance policies and procedures in order to make sure they are still in line with changes to regulations, and changes within your organization. While you could do so on your own, it’s smarter to have an expert third party assess your HIPAA risk potential.
This assessment should involve the following considerations:
- It should consider any and all risks to any and all PHI, in terms of its privacy, availability, and integrity. It’s important to determine and document where the data is being stored, received, maintained, or transmitted.
- Potential threats need to be identified and documented, as well as their probability of occurring, and the result of their occurrence. Using this information, a theoretical level of risk needs to be determined.
- Your cybersecurity needs to be assessed and confirmed to be in line with HIPAA standards (if not stronger and more extensive).
- All information involved in and resulting from the assessment needs to be documented, and formed in an Action Plan, to address any potential noncompliance and mitigate risks.
Don’t Make Any Assumptions About Your HIPAA Compliance
No one said HIPAA compliance was easy. It’s a higher level of security and data governance that healthcare organizations have to follow. That’s why you need to invest time and energy in ensuring your compliance now so that you’re not at risk in the future.
For more detailed information, and a discussion of Dell’s many solutions that support healthcare compliance, check out the full webinar above.
Advantage Industries is a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) providing practical networking and software solutions, as well as web site and application creation services. For nearly two decades, Advantage has worked collaboratively with hundreds of clients in understanding complex business processes, identifying needs, and providing recommendations tied with sound technology solutions custom-tailored to their business.