HIPAA guidelines are one of the crucial standards that should be followed by all organizations involved in handling Patient Health Information (PHI). HIPAA guidelines ensure protection of PHI against security breaches by malicious parties.
In spite of being such an essential standard, it has been observed that most organizations find it difficult to become HIPAA compliant. There are several reasons for this.
For starters, policy writing for HIPAA compliance can be very complex. As a result, most organizations don’t know where they should start to frame such wide-ranging guidelines. Further, assessing and auditing policy effectiveness can be a very time-consuming task when done manually.
With professional help, however, the task can be made simpler and more streamlined. What follows are the top five tips that organizations can utilize to make the process of HIPAA compliance easier.
Implement Data Safety Diligently
The primary purpose behind HIPAA compliance is the implementation of data security at all levels of the organization. Therefore, to ensure HIPAA compliance, organizations need to make sure that all PHI is adequately protected using digital as well as physical safeguards.
Constant Vigilance is Key
It is said that vigilance is the price of safety, and rightly so. Monitoring all controls on essential systems can be a key factor in ensuring HIPAA compliance. Keeping tabs on unusual network activity, checking systems for inadequate logging and ensuring that the data is accessed only by authorized personnel can all contribute towards becoming compliant.
Adequate Training is Essential
Make sure all levels of employees are adequately trained in compliance policies. Also, training should not be a one-off event. Rather, periodic training programs should be held along with regular assessments that ensure the training is on point. Remember, the right training can be the difference between airtight security and disastrous breaches.
Make Sure to Perform A Risk Analysis
A Risk Analysis involves assessing and identifying the vulnerabilities that may affect your organization. Such vulnerabilities can come from outside as well as the inside of your organization. Threats need not always be digital, for physical vulnerabilities may also pose a risk to your data security. A thorough risk analysis not only takes into consideration your digital systems but your work environment and human actors as well. Be advised, a risk analysis is not a one-and-done event and should be carried out periodically for full effect.
Have a Documented Response Plan
Finally, be ready with a well-documented incident response plan. Breaches are not a matter of if but when, and being prepared for any form of event, be it major or minor, can significantly contribute towards minimizing fines and other penalties. For best results organizations should opt to hire third-party professionals to create a response document for them.
Keeping the above tips in mind will help you on the road to HIPAA compliance. Often it is best to leave the compliance details to experts who can take an unbiased view of the situation and help you enforce effective security policies.