As technology continues to evolve, the health records of patients have been slowly moving to digital formats or electronic health records (EHRs). Healthcare organizations and their business associates must work to create strong IT security measures to keep patients’ confidential data secure in all formats.

Cybercriminals are actively seeking your electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI). It is a valuable commodity on the Dark Web. So how can your healthcare organization make sure you have the most robust data security protocols in place? By following best practices for securing PHI.

Every healthcare-related company must have a game plan in place to remain compliant. Below are 5 ways to create, adjust and implement a HIPAA Compliance Plan.

  1. Implement Policies and Procedures – You must provide your employees, and anyone who handles your sensitive information with a blueprint explaining the dos and don’ts when it comes to HIPAA compliance. Your blueprint must continuously be updated and adjusted as you implement your compliance planning. For example, encryption is necessary to protect electronic protected health information (ePHI). This is an extra layer of security, comparable to an unbreakable password. Other standard procedures like locking a laptop when it’s not in use should be included in your policies and procedures. Your employees can’t follow the rules unless they understand them, so policies and procedures will help ensure HIPAA compliance.
  2. Perform a Risk Assessment – This is an overall review of both macro and micro levels to guarantee your company’s IT infrastructure is secure. This is a mandatory aspect of any healthcare company’s compliance activities. Not only is it essential, but it’s the foundation for applying safeguards to better protect your organization. It’s usually best to hire an outside IT company to perform your risk assessment. They will test and evaluate your current security protocols and make recommendations to initiate stronger measures.
  3. Designate a Privacy/Security Officer – This can be your IT Managed Services Provider (MSP) or an employee. Their job is to make sure that everyone knows the regulations and that the rules are being followed. This is a foundational building block for your compliance success. Hiring an individual or MSP who has a track record of success is critical for HIPAA compliance. They should perform regular testing and issue reports on the success or failure of your organization. In most cases, each test is an opportunity to see where your organization is lax and could make improvements.
  4. Train Your Employees – Security Awareness Training for your employees should be part of your policies and procedures. The best plan in the world can be devastated by a simple thing like employee negligence. Take the time to train all employees on best practices for handling sensitive information and what constitutes a HIPAA violation. This is also a mandatory aspect of HIPAA compliance. Employees must be trained on a regular basis. This is not just a one-time event.
  5. Develop and Implement an Incident Response Plan – What if you’ve done everything that you were supposed to do but still had a breach? This happens. But you must follow the right procedures to report it. Have a plan in place to identify and respond to a threat. Once the source is identified, stopped, and documented, it must be reported. From this point on, you should have a prevention plan in place to ensure a breach doesn’t occur again.

What Else Can You Do?

Healthcare organizations are exposed to daily dangers and threats to their HIPAA compliance status. Employees get careless. A terminated employee might decide to get revenge by exposing your data online. Sometimes employees have ePHI on their device and it gets lost or stolen. But with the right plan in place, you can protect your healthcare organization from security threats and violations.

The Bottom Line

Create a HIPAA Compliance Plan, and most importantly, train your employees about IT security best practices. Regularly evaluate your organization’s HIPAA compliance regulations and practices to consistently improve your IT security posture. If a breach does occur, follow all laws and procedures in reporting the incident and do so in a timely manner.

Contact the Security Pros

For assistance in protecting your healthcare organization from a breach and becoming HIPAA compliant, contact the IT specialists at Hitstech in North Carolina.

HitsTech has the right prescription to keep your ePHI safe from hackers. Contact us to learn more about HIPAA compliance. We serve all of North Carolina with a full range of professional managed IT services.

Phone HitsTech at: (828) 695-9440 or email: sales@hitstech.net

In the meantime, make sure you and your staff stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the world of IT. Visit Our Blog regularly. We continuously post new content that will help you use technology to grow your business. Here are a few sample articles:

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