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HIPAA Security Protection

Read Time: 4 min.

Today, healthcare uses electronic document management and a large number
of high-tech devices that store patient data, so the US government passed HIPAA security law.
Find out in more detail what constitutes the law and how to comply with its requirements in COVID times.

HIPAA Security Protection
HIPAA Security Protection

Why HIPAA Security Is Important

The development of high technology touched almost every area of life, and it also did not pass by the healthcare. Today, healthcare uses almost the entire spectrum of electronic capabilities, from electronic medical records and specialized devices to mobile applications that allow doctors to save patients' lives, improve their health and provide quality service. These technologies and related data are constantly interacting, exchanging health information through complex systems, which increases risks and vulnerabilities. That is why HIPAA security today is a very important element of cyber security of medical facilities.

Want to have an in-depth understanding of all modern aspects of HIPAA Security Protection? Read carefully this article and bookmark it to get back later, we regularly update this page.

The technologies allow doctors to collect more information to study patient histories. More and more healthcare providers and IT professionals are using cloud services to process, store, and transmit private health information. This allows institutions which comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to use a secure environment for the processing, maintenance, and storage of sensitive health information.

What HIPAA Security Protects

Patient's personal health information (protected health information PHI), subject to HIPAA protection. Such information includes:

  • Information about the patient’s health, both physical and psychological;
  • The history of his visits to medical institutions;
  • Financial information regarding medical services;
  • Patient’s personal data - all contact details, photos and other details with which you can somehow identify the patient’s identity.

The general provisions and requirements of HIPAA security rules of safety rules cover 5 main areas:

  • Physical security measures;
  • Administrative security measures;
  • Organizational activities;
  • Technical safety measures;
  • HIPAA security documentation, policies and procedures.

The safety rules are created to ensure that information is kept confidential as well as the availability and integrity of Protected Health Information (PHI). Thanks to this, the correct risk management approach of various organizations is being formed. Everyone who is involved in storing and processing health information should be identified with the steps that must be taken to comply with these rules. Healthcare organizations require sufficient resources to implement the rule. The security department should cooperate with HIPAA security consultants and the organization’s lawyers.

1. HIPAA Security Physical Measures

HIPAA Security Rules take into account the effect of the general physical security measures used in the facility on the security of computers and networks. Therefore, essential requirements for physical protection are included here.

Management of access to the premises. The following components are considered in relation to a specific organization:

  • plans developed in case of unforeseen circumstances;
  • room safety plan;
  • access control and authentication, procedures for registering repair work and modifications of physical security equipment.

Used workstations. A policy for determining the physical parameters of workstations that can be accessed by the PHI.

Workstation security. Physical security measures for all workstations that can be accessed by the PHI.

Control of devices and storage media. These components are required: procedures for placing the PHI and the media on which it is stored, removing the PHI before reusing the media. And these components are considered in relation to a specific organization: records of the movement of hardware and media, the creation of PHI backups before this move.

2. HIPAA Security Administrative Measures

HIPAA determines compliance with the following rules for any medical institution:

Security management. This includes:

  • regular risk analysis;
  • appropriate security measures for risk management;
  • sanctions policy aimed at enforcing compliance;
  • regular review of log entries containing information about the actions performed.

Appointment of persons responsible for safety. A person responsible for security issues should be appointed.

Safety measures related to the human factor. The following components are considered in relation to a specific organization: authorization procedures, setting the level of admission, dismissal procedures.

Management of access to information. A mandatory component is the isolation of the work of health information centers. And these components are considered in relation to a specific organization: access authorization procedures, establishing the fact of access and modification procedures.

Understanding the need for security measures and training. These components are considered in relation to a specific organization:

  • periodic updating of HIPAA security provisions;
  • malware protection;
  • logon monitoring and password management.

Procedures related to the occurrence of security incidents. Policies and procedures related to security incidents are mandatory.

A contingency plan. These components are required: a backup information plan, a disaster recovery plan, and an emergency plan. The following components are considered for a specific institution: periodic review and review of plans, assessment of the relative importance of certain applications.

Evaluation. A periodic on-site protection assessment is required in response to changes in the environment.

Contracts related to doing business, and other activities. Contracts are required that define appropriate security measures with any organization sharing PHI.

3. HIPAA Security Organizational Measures

HIPAA Security Rules contain organizational requirements that, if implemented, will result in changes to contracts with contractors and sponsors. Interactions with enterprises that need to use PHI are required to apply safety measures. Health authorities should require counterparties to comply with PHI protection requirements.

4. Technical Measures of HIPAA Security

HIPAA security rules contain technical security requirements. The specific security mechanisms that the organization chooses to comply with the provisions may differ depending on the risk assessment performed by the institution, as well as other factors. The following are these requirements:

Access control. These components are mandatory: assignment of a unique identifier to each user, implementation of access procedures in emergency situations. The following components are considered for a specific organization: automatic logout and PHI encryption / decryption.

Audit management. It includes the implementation of mechanisms for recording and researching any activity in a system that contains PHI.

Integrity. Development of authentication mechanisms for electronic PHI.

Authentication of a person or object. Developing mechanisms for verifying the identity of those trying to access PHI.

Security when transferring data. Methods for identifying unauthorized PHI modifications during transmission and PHI encryption methods.

5. HIPAA Security Documentation, Policies and Procedures

HIPAA security policies, as well as procedures and documentation, must be maintained in every medical and affiliated partner institution. Shelf life of documentation is 6 years from the date of creation. Employees who will ensure safety should have access to all procedures and documentation for implementation. Organization policies and procedures need to be updated in response to changes in the environment or operational requirements.

Compliance is a prerequisite for the provision of medical services, the processing and storage of personal data and patient health data. For non-compliance with safety rules, medical institutions and responsible employees are administratively liable and according to the HIPAA Enforcement Rule will have to pay a fine.

To avoid the negative consequences of violating HIPAA security compliance we recommend use our ImmuniWeb Discovery which conducts comprehensive audit and risk scoring of your digital assets and evaluates if your applications comply with HIPAA requirements.

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