The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has a necessary provision that protects individuals’ electronic personal health information. This is the Security Rule and it covers how these electronic data is created, received, processed and maintained by a covered entity. Understanding HIPAA Security Rule requirements will help keep all stakeholders protected.
HIPAA / Healthcare Industry
Companies within the medical industry need to be aware of all rules and regulations that govern both the care side and the business side. That goes not just for healthcare providers themselves, but also many companies working with them. For example, here’s a question: the HIPAA privacy rule applies to which of the following businesses: hospitals, doctors’ private practices, or vendors that work with them? The answer is: all of them, and more.
Healthcare facilities gather and manage volumes of critical patient information that, if lost or stolen, could result in patient identity theft and delayed care. In 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, prompted lawmakers to build a set of privacy laws governing the management and security of patient information.
HIPAA laws exist to maintain the integrity of all healthcare services by protecting patient privacy. As such, the consequences of HIPAA violations can cripple a healthcare business for years. Some organizations never recover from their damaged reputation and the financial burdens associated with remediation and penalties.
Among healthcare professionals and auxiliary providers, HIPAA compliance maintains the privacy and security of patient information. And by limiting the amount of patient information that individuals and organizations access, industry enforcement agencies can better protect patient privacy. The foundation for patient data safeguarding lies in the HIPAA minimum necessary rule.
What is the HIPAA Minimum Necessary Rule?
Among authorized agencies that interact with protected health information (PHI), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) moderates the frequency and scope with which patient data travels across multiple systems. The more that a patient’s personal and medical information move around, the greater the risks of lost or stolen data.
The US healthcare industry is one of the most attractive targets for cybercrime worldwide. Any attack, like the recent ransomware strike on Universal Health Services, can freeze hundreds of providers and impact millions of patients. Complying with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is the first step you can take to avoid potentially crippling attacks, and understanding the HIPAA security rule is a key part of achieving compliance.
These are trying times for the healthcare industry. Resources across various facilities are being exhausted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and previously unforeseen levels of traffic. But that’s not all: cyberattacks on the healthcare sector rose 150 percent in just the early stages of the pandemic, according to one report. The need for cyberdefense is clear. Now, more than ever before, penalties for HIPAA violations pale in comparison to other threats compliance can assuage.
HIPAA and PIPEDA represent two initiatives wherein lawmakers require organizations to exercise greater stewardship of consumer medical information. In fact, inexperienced IT managers occasionally confuse the contents of these two pieces of North American legislation.
The healthcare industry has come a long way in improving patient care. Lifesaving instruments such as pacemakers and insulin pumps are now combined with connectivity. Remote monitoring by a health professional can track dramatic spikes in a patient’s heart rhythms. An alert is then sent to a physician for preventative measures. It’s a lot better than repairing damage after the fact.
“PCI” stands for “payment card industry,” commonly associated with the longer-named Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). This is a set of rules that outlines the accepted security standards for credit and debit cards, whether they’re used online or in person.