Dynamic technological development has made IT security a matter of paramount importance and concern to all companies in the healthcare sector which has seen large-scale data breaches worryingly often in recent times. Forbes reports the exposure of a staggering 4.1 billion compromised records due to data breaches in the first half of 2019. Such data breaches cost the healthcare $6.5 million on an average, a Ponemon Institute report claims.
Therefore, it is imperative to know the top five tips for HIPAA risk assessment in order to be HIPAA compliant and secure to ward off potential cyber attacks and avoid financial penalties.
The HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) has set stringent guidelines— HIPAA Privacy Rule and HIPAA Security Rule—for healthcare organizations on safeguarding the PHI (Protected Health Information) of patients. However, the gaping disconnect between the InfoSec and IT departments of these organizations has made it necessary to seek the services of a company that specializes in providing reliable HIPAA risk assessment solutions.
Here are the top five tips for a HIPAA assessment:
Learn all about the flow of your PHI
The first step in HIPAA risk assessment is to ensure that your PHI is secure. For this, you must document the details about where it was created in your organization, where it is transmitted, stored, and maintained. Learn all about the flow of your PHI within your organization, including where the existing or potential leaks may be and how the PHI exits. This is called the scope of your PHI.
Find your vulnerabilities, risks, and threats
Once you know the scope of your PHI, the next step in a HIPAA risk assessment involves identifying your vulnerabilities, risks, and threats in your environment. There are vulnerabilities associated with systems, people, processes, or applications and there are threats that could exploit each of the vulnerabilities.
Examine the different categories for vulnerabilities and possible risks and threats:
- Negligent employee
- An angry former employee
- Environment (natural disaster)
Analyse the level of risk
You have to decide on the possible risks and their impact on the organization, its data, and the patients. You have to develop your HIPAA risk management plan based on this. Calculate the probability of the possible threat and estimate how a particular event (of a single compromised record or a leaked database of records) could impact your organization.
Make a HIPAA risk management plan
Based on the outcome of risk analysis, design a risk management plan annually. Plan how to evaluate security controls, prioritize and implement them. Test the security controls periodically and watch out for new threats and risks. Document the HIPAA risk management plan and the progress you make on addressing the risks identified.
Test the environment of your organization
Implement enhanced security services such as frequent internal and external vulnerability scans, live hands-on tests on systems, network scans, and security gap analysis.
A HIPAA risk assessment is of utmost importance for all companies in the healthcare sector. Since the annual process of ensuring HIPAA compliance through HIPAA risk assessment and resolution is a mandatory process that is lengthy and thorough, it is better entrusted to HIPAA risk assessment experts who conduct exhaustive analysis and enforce HIPAA compliance to information security policies.