The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets forth standards to govern the handling of sensitive patient information. These standards apply to hospitals, medical offices and companies that handle insurance and billing. For businesses that must meet HIPAA standards, the ultimate goal is to protect sensitive patient information.
To do this, your organization must implement physical and network security measures to protect data according to HIPAA regulations. However, it’s not enough to simply enact these safeguards; adherence is another piece of the puzzle necessary for your company to comply with HIPAA security regulations. Here are a few things your business can do to fulfill HIPAA network security requirements and work toward compliance:
4 Ways to Get Your Organization Closer to HIPAA Compliance
1. Educate Your Employees
It’s important for your employees to understand the importance of following the necessary HIPAA network security procedures when handling sensitive patient information. Some workers may dismiss HIPAA regulations as “red tape,” but following them is essential to shield your company and its employees from lawsuits, criminal charges, professional sanctions, and financial losses caused by mishandling information.
Employees who understand the importance of these policies and the consequences of non-adherence (either intentionally or accidentally) are more likely to follow security procedures, like making sure antivirus and work software are always up-to-date.
2. Enact Written Policies
HIPAA security rules require businesses to have written policies regarding their HIPAA network security procedures. Make sure your company’s guidelines are clearly defined in writing. Review the policies to make sure they thoroughly state your expectations. As your business evolves, update your written policies to reflect your company’s changing needs.
Another benefit of putting your HIPAA network security policies in writing is it helps you prove your business strives to comply with HIPAA guidelines regarding the treatment of sensitive information; during a HIPAA audit, you need evidence your company has made a strong effort to maintain compliance. Written policies offer proof that your company has specific procedures in place to protect sensitive patient information.
3. Document Everything
Many security breaches occur because employees fail to follow the company’s written procedures. One way to ensure your staff are acting in accordance to policies that promote HIPAA compliance is to require documentation of their adherence. Your documentation should also include any HIPAA violations that occur and the resulting consequences. During a HIPAA audit, your documentation will demonstrate employees are following your organization’s written policies and striving to act in ways that are compliant with HIPAA guidelines.
4. Utilize Encryption Whenever Possible
Encryption is the process of converting data into a code readable only by parties that have the “key” to de-crypt the code. Make sure all your company devices, including laptops, tablets and smart phones, are encrypted. When employees work remotely, they should only use encrypted devices capable of adding protection to sensitive information.
Boost Your HIPAA Network Security
The above are just a few ways to help get your company closer to being HIPAA-compliant. If you’re in need of increased network security for HIPAA, contact the experts at Network Security Associates. Our technicians will consistently monitor your network to ensure your data is secure and all systems are up-to-date. Contact us today at 702-547-9800 for more information and to schedule a network security assessment.