4 Important details about HIPAA compliance

Getting your practice up to code when it comes to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations can seem challenging upon first glance, but knowing where your IT efforts must be prioritized is the first step. In this article, we’ll zero in on four of the most critical items you must look into to become HIPAA-compliant.

1. Whether it be on-premises, on the cloud, or both, data storage must be HIPAA-compliant

Electronic protected health information (ePHI) and any sensitive documents like billing records, appointment information, and test results must be stored in HIPAA-compliant devices and servers. More specifically, your devices and services should have multiple layers of security, including endpoint protection software, encryption systems, and strict access controls.

Healthcare providers tend to prefer building their own data centers since they won’t require internet connectivity to access on-premises data storage. However, storage space may be limited, so the cloud is viable, especially for less sensitive ePHI. When choosing cloud-based storage for your EHRs, make sure that you and your service provider meet HIPAA requirements.

2. Data must be secured while providing telehealth and mHealth services

If your practice has invested in or is thinking about investing in telehealth or mobile health (mHealth), then you need to make sure that the tech you utilize is HIPAA-compliant. While most telehealth technologies are HIPAA-approved, one or two additional measures may be required for complete compliance. For example, you may need to utilize encryption in transit to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks during virtual consultations. An IT specialist should have no problem making sure your telehealth solution is up to code.

On the other hand, mHealth may be a little more problematic, as it is a new and constantly changing field. Your best bet is to consult with an expert to make sure that you’re following all the necessary regulations when providing mHealth services.

3. Healthcare business associates must also be HIPAA-compliant

Conforming to HIPAA regulations is not just limited to medical practices, healthcare clearinghouses, and health plan organizations. Any business that has access, electronic or otherwise, to PHI is also required by law to be HIPAA-compliant. This includes any accounting or law firms you work with that may already be accessing your files electronically to carry out work.

To avoid any potential trouble for your practice or its partners, it is best to ask them if they are HIPAA-compliant before partnering with them. If they aren’t, do not grant them data access privileges.

4. Your protected health information (PHI) notice must be available online

If your practice has a website, HIPAA rules dictate that your website must contain a copy of your updated PHI notice for patients to access. This notice informs patients of their rights with regard to their health information. If this information is not currently posted on your website, rectify this as soon as possible to avoid any problems.

Still not sure if you’re 100% HIPAA-compliant? Our team of experts can run the necessary risk analysis and identify areas of your technology that may not be in line with current regulations. Just give us a call today.

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HIPAA calls for careful social media behavior

Healthcare providers that use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can interact with their patients, advertise new services, and communicate urgent announcements. Even though there’s immense potential for social media to improve healthcare, it can also expose patient-specific information when used irresponsibly.

What social media actions violate HIPAA rules?

Posting patients’ protected health information on social media, even if it’s accidentally, without the patients’ permission or authority is a violation of HIPAA regulations. This includes actions like:

  • Sharing pictures (like a team lunch in the workplace) with patient information visible in the background
  • Sharing any form of PHI (such as images or videos)
  • Posting any information that could identify an individual
  • Sharing gossip about a patient, even if the patient’s name is not mentioned

What are the consequences of violating HIPAA?

People in the healthcare industry should not treat HIPAA violations lightly. If an employee is found guilty of breaking a HIPAA rule, they could face fines between $100 and $1,500,000 depending on the severity of the violation. They could also face a 10-year jail sentence, lawsuits, job termination, and revocation of their medical license.

How can healthcare organizations prevent violations?

There are simple ways to avoid HIPAA violations while using social media:

  • Don’t post stories about patients on social media. Even if the patient’s name is omitted, the patient could still be identified by their diagnosis or treatment.
  • Check the background of photos before posting. Make sure there are policies that prohibit employees from posting photos of a patient or their information.
  • Prohibit employees from offering medical advice on social media. It’s best practice to refrain from posting diagnosis or treatment plans on social media, even if a patient asks for medical advice.
  • Always get written permission. Sometimes, a patient’s story is too great not to share. Maybe they made an astonishing recovery or exhibited great strength in the face of adversity and you want to share their accomplishment. In cases like these, ask for written permission from the patient before posting anything on social media.
  • Undergo training on HIPAA security and HIPAA privacy procedures and policies. Make sure to discuss topics such as workstation use, workstation security, and using personal devices for work. These procedures ensure that employees comply with HIPAA rules and are protecting patient information, whether it be electronic, written, or oral.

Do you work in the healthcare industry and need help managing IT and privacy issues? Feel free to call us today!

This post was originally published on this site

HIPAA calls for careful social media behavior

Healthcare providers that use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can interact with their patients, advertise new services, and communicate urgent announcements. Even though there’s immense potential for social media to improve healthcare, it can also expose patient-specific information when used irresponsibly.

What social media actions violate HIPAA rules?

Posting patients’ protected health information on social media, even if it’s accidentally, without the patients’ permission or authority is a violation of HIPAA regulations. This includes actions like:

  • Sharing pictures (like a team lunch in the workplace) with patient information visible in the background
  • Sharing any form of PHI (such as images or videos)
  • Posting any information that could identify an individual
  • Sharing gossip about a patient, even if the patient’s name is not mentioned

What are the consequences of violating HIPAA?

People in the healthcare industry should not treat HIPAA violations lightly. If an employee is found guilty of breaking a HIPAA rule, they could face fines between $100 and $1,500,000 depending on the severity of the violation. They could also face a 10-year jail sentence, lawsuits, job termination, and revocation of their medical license.

How can healthcare organizations prevent violations?

There are simple ways to avoid HIPAA violations while using social media:

  • Don’t post stories about patients on social media. Even if the patient’s name is omitted, the patient could still be identified by their diagnosis or treatment.
  • Check the background of photos before posting. Make sure there are policies that prohibit employees from posting photos of a patient or their information.
  • Prohibit employees from offering medical advice on social media. It’s best practice to refrain from posting diagnosis or treatment plans on social media, even if a patient asks for medical advice.
  • Always get written permission. Sometimes, a patient’s story is too great not to share. Maybe they made an astonishing recovery or exhibited great strength in the face of adversity and you want to share their accomplishment. In cases like these, ask for written permission from the patient before posting anything on social media.
  • Undergo training on HIPAA security and HIPAA privacy procedures and policies. Make sure to discuss topics such as workstation use, workstation security, and using personal devices for work. These procedures ensure that employees comply with HIPAA rules and are protecting patient information, whether it be electronic, written, or oral.

Do you work in the healthcare industry and need help managing IT and privacy issues? Feel free to call us today!

This post was originally published on this site

Stop insider threats within healthcare organizations

Insider threats are anyone within your organization who has knowledge of your computer systems and who can expose your data. They can be any of your current or former associates, contractors, or employees. Insider threats are a major risk to any company, including those in the healthcare sector. Let’s take a look at five ways through which you can protect your healthcare company’s data from breaches and loss caused by them.

Educate

All healthcare employees must be educated on patient privacy, data security, and the risks associated with certain behaviors. They must also be aware of allowable uses and disclosures of protected health information (PHI). For example, some healthcare personnel may be tempted to peek into the medical records of a celebrity admitted to their hospital. You must emphasize that such behavior is strictly forbidden and that it carries corresponding penalties.

Deter

Develop and enforce policies aimed at reducing the risk of data leaks. Make sure your employees understand the repercussions of violations and privacy breaches under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Discussing patients or PHI in public areas of the hospital, for example, can result in hefty penalties and criminal charges leading to jail time.

Detect

Healthcare organizations should implement technology that can quickly identify breaches. They also need to ensure that only authorized personnel are accessing sensitive patient data. This can be accomplished by regularly checking user access logs, as well as consistently monitoring and updating access controls. Any attempt by unauthorized personnel to access data must be penalized.

Investigate

To limit its impact, any potential privacy and security breach must be investigated promptly and thoroughly upon detection. Once the cause of the breach is identified, your organization needs to implement measures to keep breaches from happening in the future.

Train

Healthcare employees must regularly undergo comprehensive cybersecurity training, as this will turn them into an effective first line of defense against various cyber risks, including insider threats. Just because the members of your team were oriented on data privacy and security-related topics during their first day on the job doesn’t mean you should be complacent. Cybersecurity risks continue to evolve, so it pays to be vigilant and to keep your team’s knowledge updated at all times.

Encourage your IT department to provide various tips across a wide variety of cybersecurity-related topics throughout the year. Using different types of media, such as emails, printed newsletters, infographics, and even memos, to deliver these tips will make them easier to understand and keep in mind for your employees.

Protecting healthcare data from insider threats is more than just about staying compliant with industry regulations. It’s also vital to protecting the privacy of your patients and your staff, as well as the reputation of your healthcare organization.

For more information about the different ways you can keep your healthcare data secure, just give our experts a call.

This post was originally published on this site

Stop insider threats within healthcare organizations

Insider threats are anyone within your organization who has knowledge of your computer systems and who can expose your data. They can be any of your current or former associates, contractors, or employees. Insider threats are a major risk to any company, including those in the healthcare sector. Let’s take a look at five ways through which you can protect your healthcare company’s data from breaches and loss caused by them.

Educate

All healthcare employees must be educated on patient privacy, data security, and the risks associated with certain behaviors. They must also be aware of allowable uses and disclosures of protected health information (PHI). For example, some healthcare personnel may be tempted to peek into the medical records of a celebrity admitted to their hospital. You must emphasize that such behavior is strictly forbidden and that it carries corresponding penalties.

Deter

Develop and enforce policies aimed at reducing the risk of data leaks. Make sure your employees understand the repercussions of violations and privacy breaches under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Discussing patients or PHI in public areas of the hospital, for example, can result in hefty penalties and criminal charges leading to jail time.

Detect

Healthcare organizations should implement technology that can quickly identify breaches. They also need to ensure that only authorized personnel are accessing sensitive patient data. This can be accomplished by regularly checking user access logs, as well as consistently monitoring and updating access controls. Any attempt by unauthorized personnel to access data must be penalized.

Investigate

To limit its impact, any potential privacy and security breach must be investigated promptly and thoroughly upon detection. Once the cause of the breach is identified, your organization needs to implement measures to keep breaches from happening in the future.

Train

Healthcare employees must regularly undergo comprehensive cybersecurity training, as this will turn them into an effective first line of defense against various cyber risks, including insider threats. Just because the members of your team were oriented on data privacy and security-related topics during their first day on the job doesn’t mean you should be complacent. Cybersecurity risks continue to evolve, so it pays to be vigilant and to keep your team’s knowledge updated at all times.

Encourage your IT department to provide various tips across a wide variety of cybersecurity-related topics throughout the year. Using different types of media, such as emails, printed newsletters, infographics, and even memos, to deliver these tips will make them easier to understand and keep in mind for your employees.

Protecting healthcare data from insider threats is more than just about staying compliant with industry regulations. It’s also vital to protecting the privacy of your patients and your staff, as well as the reputation of your healthcare organization.

For more information about the different ways you can keep your healthcare data secure, just give our experts a call.

This post was originally published on this site

Mobile device management: A game changer for healthcare

More hospital wireless networks are making use of mobile device management (MDM) software to monitor every device connected to their network, and for good reason, too. Here are the numerous benefits MDM offers to healthcare organizations.

Compliance

Governments have established several regulations, such as HIPAA, to protect patient records, but mobile devices are posing a major challenge to these regulations. If companies violate the rules, they can be penalized with a fine as high as $1.5 million.

The largest compliance risk associated with the use of mobile devices is data leakage. The most common example of this is an employee keeping sensitive data or footage in his or her phone and then uploading it on social media. MDM mitigates this risk by allowing system administrators to set access and usage restrictions for data and applications so employees comply with the company’s security policies.

Cost-effectiveness

Many practices are adopting bring your own device (BYOD) policies, encouraging employees to use their own tablets, computers, and smartphones for work. MDM solutions make it possible for IT administrators to remotely monitor and control these devices. But more importantly, organizations benefit from the reduced overhead and hardware costs, since they don’t have to purchase the devices for their staff.

Better device security

As long as the systems administrator uses MDM, it will be a challenge for hackers to gain access to any confidential information, regardless of where in the hospital the device is. The best MDM applications can encrypt files in a portable device and distinguish corporate data from the employee’s personal information. In the event that the employee leaves the company, the MDM software will remove corporate data on their devices, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access to protected health information. Meanwhile, if the device is lost or stolen, the MDM software can be used to fully wipe the device remotely.

Company-wide updates

One of the biggest challenges of mobile devices is it’s often difficult to keep software updates consistent throughout the company. What’s worse is that employees may put off updates because they’re on a tight schedule. However, these updates are essential in defending against the latest threats.

MDM addresses these problems with company-wide updates. When a security patch is available for business software, MDM makes it easy to track which devices are still vulnerable and lets system administrators automatically administer updates. This way, companies can secure any vulnerabilities in company-registered devices from a central location.

No changes to infrastructure

MDM applications will not demand a change in the Wi-Fi infrastructure of an organization, but if the system cannot handle all the devices logged in to the network, the support team will have difficulties managing all medical applications and individual devices. If a hospital has a strong wireless network, then there will be no need to make changes to the system.

These are just some of the advantages to having MDM in the healthcare industry. If you need more information on MDM, or if you have other technical concerns, feel free to get in touch with us today!

This post was originally published on this site

Mobile device management: A game changer for healthcare

More hospital wireless networks are making use of mobile device management (MDM) software to monitor every device connected to their network, and for good reason, too. Here are the numerous benefits MDM offers to healthcare organizations.

Compliance

Governments have established several regulations, such as HIPAA, to protect patient records, but mobile devices are posing a major challenge to these regulations. If companies violate the rules, they can be penalized with a fine as high as $1.5 million.

The largest compliance risk associated with the use of mobile devices is data leakage. The most common example of this is an employee keeping sensitive data or footage in his or her phone and then uploading it on social media. MDM mitigates this risk by allowing system administrators to set access and usage restrictions for data and applications so employees comply with the company’s security policies.

Cost-effectiveness

Many practices are adopting bring your own device (BYOD) policies, encouraging employees to use their own tablets, computers, and smartphones for work. MDM solutions make it possible for IT administrators to remotely monitor and control these devices. But more importantly, organizations benefit from the reduced overhead and hardware costs, since they don’t have to purchase the devices for their staff.

Better device security

As long as the systems administrator uses MDM, it will be a challenge for hackers to gain access to any confidential information, regardless of where in the hospital the device is. The best MDM applications can encrypt files in a portable device and distinguish corporate data from the employee’s personal information. In the event that the employee leaves the company, the MDM software will remove corporate data on their devices, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access to protected health information. Meanwhile, if the device is lost or stolen, the MDM software can be used to fully wipe the device remotely.

Company-wide updates

One of the biggest challenges of mobile devices is it’s often difficult to keep software updates consistent throughout the company. What’s worse is that employees may put off updates because they’re on a tight schedule. However, these updates are essential in defending against the latest threats.

MDM addresses these problems with company-wide updates. When a security patch is available for business software, MDM makes it easy to track which devices are still vulnerable and lets system administrators automatically administer updates. This way, companies can secure any vulnerabilities in company-registered devices from a central location.

No changes to infrastructure

MDM applications will not demand a change in the Wi-Fi infrastructure of an organization, but if the system cannot handle all the devices logged in to the network, the support team will have difficulties managing all medical applications and individual devices. If a hospital has a strong wireless network, then there will be no need to make changes to the system.

These are just some of the advantages to having MDM in the healthcare industry. If you need more information on MDM, or if you have other technical concerns, feel free to get in touch with us today!

This post was originally published on this site

Why cloud solutions are essential in healthcare

One of the main goals of running a healthcare practice is delivering high-quality patient care ㅡ cloud computing can help you provide that. It is more reliable, convenient, and secure than offline solutions, and accessible on any internet-connected device. Here are some of the benefits of cloud computing for your practice.

Easy information access

Reviewing patient records used to be a time-consuming activity. In the past, doctors had to either lug around reams of documents or spend hours in front of a desktop computer to retrieve health records. But with cloud applications for managing electronic medical records (EMR), doctors can conveniently access medical records from anywhere, at any time.

HIPAA compliance

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) stipulates rules and regulations on how to protect patient health information. Whether you use a browser-based tool or a mobile app, cloud computing makes it easy to adapt to HIPAA regulatory updates and changes. For instance, a vendor can update its data encryption standards in the cloud and the changes will automatically take effect on all accounts and devices — no new installs or configuration necessary.

Cost reduction

The cloud also eliminates the need for on-site hardware, maintenance fees, and expensive one-time software licenses. In terms of less quantifiable cost reductions, the ability to access work from anywhere at any time boosts productivity and makes your IT department more efficient.

Scalability

Unlike in-house computer hardware, you can scale cloud storage solutions in a matter of minutes. Beyond the benefit of organizational simplicity, web-based EMR software gives you more storage than you can ever need and retrieves records in a few seconds.

Better data backup and recovery

Data loss is a real issue for healthcare practices. Will your business continuity be safe if your office IT suddenly becomes inaccessible? Even a couple of days of downtime can have serious repercussions for your organization.

Practices that store their files in the cloud don’t have to worry about this. Nearly every cloud solution stores files in more than one location so backups can be restored quickly if anything goes wrong.

Want to learn more about the ideal cloud computing solutions for your practice? Get in touch with one of our tech experts today for personalized recommendations.

This post was originally published on this site

Why cloud solutions are essential in healthcare

One of the main goals of running a healthcare practice is delivering high-quality patient care ㅡ cloud computing can help you provide that. It is more reliable, convenient, and secure than offline solutions, and accessible on any internet-connected device. Here are some of the benefits of cloud computing for your practice.

Easy information access

Reviewing patient records used to be a time-consuming activity. In the past, doctors had to either lug around reams of documents or spend hours in front of a desktop computer to retrieve health records. But with cloud applications for managing electronic medical records (EMR), doctors can conveniently access medical records from anywhere, at any time.

HIPAA compliance

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) stipulates rules and regulations on how to protect patient health information. Whether you use a browser-based tool or a mobile app, cloud computing makes it easy to adapt to HIPAA regulatory updates and changes. For instance, a vendor can update its data encryption standards in the cloud and the changes will automatically take effect on all accounts and devices — no new installs or configuration necessary.

Cost reduction

The cloud also eliminates the need for on-site hardware, maintenance fees, and expensive one-time software licenses. In terms of less quantifiable cost reductions, the ability to access work from anywhere at any time boosts productivity and makes your IT department more efficient.

Scalability

Unlike in-house computer hardware, you can scale cloud storage solutions in a matter of minutes. Beyond the benefit of organizational simplicity, web-based EMR software gives you more storage than you can ever need and retrieves records in a few seconds.

Better data backup and recovery

Data loss is a real issue for healthcare practices. Will your business continuity be safe if your office IT suddenly becomes inaccessible? Even a couple of days of downtime can have serious repercussions for your organization.

Practices that store their files in the cloud don’t have to worry about this. Nearly every cloud solution stores files in more than one location so backups can be restored quickly if anything goes wrong.

Want to learn more about the ideal cloud computing solutions for your practice? Get in touch with one of our tech experts today for personalized recommendations.

This post was originally published on this site

Why hospitals need managed IT services

Technology is the heartbeat of modern medicine, which is why hospital IT budgets continue to grow every year. Whether your practice is struggling with data security or operational efficiency, managed services providers (MSPs) are an excellent option for IT support.

Here’s why partnering with MSPs is beneficial for healthcare providers:

MSPs guarantee response times

When it comes to providing healthcare services, constant uptime and availability can be a matter of life and death. Your IT support team shouldn’t be any different. Most MSPs guarantee maximum response times and support lines that are open 24 hours a day.

If something breaks or you come across technical issues in the dead of night, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether an in-house technician takes too long to pick up the phone or can’t make it in.

MSPs help with business continuity plans

You risk putting your practice in jeopardy if your IT team can’t help you recover from an outage or natural disaster. A business continuity plan is an absolute necessity in your healthcare organization — you simply can’t afford to lose all your valuable medical data in the event of a disaster.

MSPs maintain HIPAA-compliant off-site backups and failover systems so you can prevent any sudden regulatory or customer retention issues.

MSPs provide proactive security

In the world of healthcare data security, complying with HIPAA mandates is essential. Failing to meet regulations may result in huge fines, serious penalties, and even the withdrawal of your license to operate.

MSPs offer security services that include identity-based security and encryption, authorized privileges and access control, and data accountability and integrity.

MSPs boost practice efficiency

Healthcare staffing is often a hassle. But thankfully, MSPs can help set up, secure, and support high-tech solutions that reduce your HR concerns. Practices can take advantage of automation, enterprise resource planning software, and database management to reduce human errors and increase operational efficiency.

If you want to learn more about how great technology and support can benefit your healthcare practice, get in touch with us today — we provide the perfect set of IT solutions and outstanding support to drive your organization forward.

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