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For businesses that deal with protected heath information, HIPAA compliance is a huge priority. The rules and regulations are extensive, complicated, and strictly enforced. HIPAA is, of course, meant to protect patients and this task has become increasingly complicated as technology has evolved.

The HIPAA Security Rule deals specifically with national security standards to protect any health data that is stored, created, shared, or maintained electronically. If the data you are responsible for is breached, there are definite consequences. Here is what you need to know.

  1. Loss of Trust

If your data is breached or you are not completely compliant with HIPAA regulations and it is made public, the loss of trust in your company could be devastating. You could have tried to do everything right, but with a maze of regulations, HIPAA compliance can be hard to meet. This is especially true for smaller companies. Smaller companies don’t have the resources to house the tech needed to stay compliant and yet their business relies on being a trusted partner for patients.  If your vulnerabilities are made public, patients will seek other service providers.

  1. Damage to Reputation

What happens if something goes wrong? Your reputation will be damaged. This goes hand in hand with loss of trust. The reputation you have worked hard to build in your industry and community will be permanently damaged if HIPAA compliance is not met or if you suffer and data leak. This is a black mark your company will carry for the rest of its days.

  1. It really can happen to you

Smaller companies are targeted less often than large corporations, but they still account for around 40% of cyber security attacks. That is a lot of data at risk for small businesses.

  1. Fines

If you are not compliant with HIPAA, you are subject to fines. Even small security breaches open you up to fines from the federal government.

Now that we know what’s at risk, let’s cover the technical requirements.

  1. Risk Assessment

It is a best practice to start with a risk assessment. If you are dealing with patient information, you need to know where you are vulnerable. Keeping up with these assessments will ensure that you stay ahead of the curve.

  1. Hosting Data

If you are hosting your data and you have protected health information, you must host with a HIPAA compliant data center. Storing your data with a host that is not HIPAA compliant is a violation of HIPAA.

  1. Physical Safeguards

The data center you host with must have physical safeguards in place. This includes limited access and authorization to the facility. Appropriate use of workstations also falls under this category. If you do not have workstation security or controls on devices, you could be violating HIPAA.

  1. Technical Safe Guards

These are the safeguards you think of when you think about keeping data safe. This is the access control that requires authorization to access the health data. User IDs, emergency access procedures, automatic log off, and encryption/decryption are all part of the technical safeguards that are required to be in place.

  1. Technical Policies

These policies include the IT disaster recovery, offsite backup, integrity controls, and other measures to ensure the data is not lost or stolen. Any failures in security must be able to be quickly fixed and recovered intact.

  1. Risk Management

There is always risk that data can be lost or stolen. Managing this risk is hugely important for businesses dealing with patient health information. Have a plan in place for the worst case scenario to ensure that you experience as little disruption as possible.

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