hipaa compliant IT

Why Your Current IT Company is Your Biggest HIPAA Liability

For doctors and other health care providers, taking care of patients comes naturally. One aspect of patient care that might not come as naturally, though, is the care of patient data, or HIPAA Compliant IT.

Even though Congress enacted the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in 1996, the legal ins and outs of the legislation have continued to evolve over the years, making compliance a more intricate task than might be expected. Although all healthcare providers recognize that HIPAA compliance is important, the responsibility for compliance often falls to the IT companies who are housing the patient data. Too often, those IT companies are HIPAA liabilities.

Keeping patient data safe is important, and dealing with HIPAA penalties is an absolute mess. With that in mind, let’s review a few of the reasons your current IT company might be your biggest HIPAA liability. By doing this, we’ll also be able to see how HIPAA compliant IT can be done right.

1. IT companies fail because they can’t address the scope of HIPAA.
One of the most common causes of IT HIPAA compliance failure is due to an inability to address the scope of the legislation. Simply put, HIPAA is broad. It covers a large range of data transfer protocols, from handling face-to-face interactions to transferring and backing up data.

HIPAA compliant IT is about more than just requiring a password to access data. It has to do with data encryption, the flow of data, and sharing data in encrypted levels and layers that then need to be audited themselves. Many IT companies don’t adequately evaluate the scope of each case. We’ve walked into doctors’ offices and seen major issues that were “ok” by the previous IT teams standards. Don’t let that happen to you.

2. IT companies don’t put enough focus into server hardening.
While IT HIPAA compliance is certainly complex, liability can often come from a failure to address what might seem like an obvious IT issue: server hardening.

HIPAA compliant IT companies like Swift Systems keep their servers in locked cages inside of a locked room, and only grant limited access to those servers. You might be surprised at how often servers with sensitive patient data can be found sitting on the floor next to the receptionist. Of course, physical security is just one step, but its enough to put your entire practice at risk.

3. They just aren’t up to date.
In today’s world, hackers move fast. Data is constantly being stolen – just look in the news to verify this for yourself. Someone is always looking for vulnerabilities in a system.

Instead of falling behind, HIPAA compliant IT companies seek to be ahead of the security trends. They’re constantly patching, adding firewalls in place, and network auditing to make sure that their technical specifications are always aligned with the rules.

So, there you have it. Hopefully, these three areas have given you an idea of how IT companies can both fail and succeed when it comes to HIPAA compliance. At Swift Systems, we pride ourselves on our HIPAA compliance, and we’re honored when healthcare providers choose us to be a trusted partner in taking care of their patients. To learn more about our HIPAA compliance expertise, read our free whitepaper, “HIPAA Compliance and the Protection of Patient Health Information”.

Let us keep your data secure. Give us a call at 301.682.5100 or contact us online to ensure HIPAA IT compliance today.

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