Managed Service Providers (MSPs) manage a business’s IT resources and infrastructure. Any size business can outsource IT resources and services through MSP, though small to medium sized businesses often find the most benefits with cost and quality of service.
If you are a healthcare organization, hiring a reliable MSP is even more important since HIPAA compliance is a must. MSPs can help any sized organization be HIPAA compliant, and as such, there are rules an MSP must follow to keep you within compliance.
What is HIPAA compliance?
Before we discuss the top 5 rules for HIPAA, it’s important to understand what HIPAA compliance is. HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and was passed in 1996. HIPAA consists of policies and standard sets of rules which help your PHI be safe and secure. PHI stands for Protected Health Information and contains all the necessary medical data of a patient.
HIPAA compliance is vital for industries related to healthcare. According to federal law, your medical practices and services should be HIPAA compliant. HIPAA compliant industries agree to all the terms and regulations mentioned in the act, which include security required security standards that protect your patients’ PHI. If a business should fall outside compliance regulations, they can be heavily penalized.
But how do you know if you’re compliant?
What are the HIPAA rules? – An MSP’s top 5 rules
There are several MSP rules for HIPAA that clients in the healthcare system must know.
1. Encryption is mandatory.
As HIPAA states, to protect PHI and keep it private, it must be encrypted. It is one of the standardized rules of HIPAA. If a business should fall prey to a cyberattack, the hacker has access to all your patients’ private data. Encryption puts one more layer in place that they have to break through in order to gain access.
2. Security assessments are your friend.
MSPs should integrate risk assessment strategies to fully comply with HIPAA. Conducting risk assessments will help MSPs find vulnerabilities in your network. With access to advanced tools and technologies, MSPs can easily identify any holes in your network and build an inclusive place to remediate them.
3. We share the risk.
When a business partners with an MSP, that MSP is recognized by HIPAA as a Business Associate and their customers become Covered Entities. This means that your MSP is responsible for complying with HIPAA just as you are.
Although large organizations take several steps to ensure that they comply with HIPAA, not all healthcare businesses do. Numerous organizations, large healthcare, in particular, tend to spend money on their staff to help them learn about HIPAA best practices. Many even train each and every staff member how to maintain compliance.
Smaller organizations, however, don’t typically have the resources of their larger compatriots and can often find themselves on the NON-compliant side of HIPAA. By working with an MSP, these smaller businesses get access to the resources they need to achieve and maintain compliance, even down to training their employees on the best practices.
4. Make sure to document things.
One of the standard rules that MSPs should follow to be HIPAA compliant is to document every protective measure they take. This documentation contains what steps have been taken to secure their customer’s data including regular risk assessments and even security breaches.
This documentation serves as Evidence of Compliance should you ever face a HIPAA audit or when breaches occur. Because every compliance action taken is documented, there is a written record of how security risks are identified and mitigated.
5. The Cost of non-compliance.
MSPs adopt the same risk as their clients when it comes to HIPAA. With fines ranging from $100 to $50,000 PER violation, and an average of 10 compliance violations per case, many covered entities and their business associates will face bankruptcy and be forced to shut their doors.
In 2018, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center was faced with a massive HIPAA violation fine of $4.3 million for failure to integrate proper encryption policies in their workflows. Though theirs was just a part of the 55 non-compliance cases held that year, the $79 million of imposed fines is proof that a non-compliance suit can be devastating to small businesses and their business associates.
How to be HIPAA compliant?
How to be HIPAA compliant is one of the popular questions that is asked by many covered entities. Some of the steps that allow you to be HIPAA compliant are:
- Be familiar with the privacy rule of HIPAA – Being familiar with and understanding the HIPAA privacy rule allows healthcare clients to know how they can access PHI. It keeps the PHI safe and secure.
- Learn which data must be protected – Healthcare clients need to learn about the types of PHI they should protect. As PHI is in digital form, following this step is essential for a healthcare client to be HIPAA
- Learn more about HIPAA violations – For a healthcare client to be HIPAA compliant, it must learn what might violate HIPAA. Learning about violations also helps healthcare clients make the right decisions to prevent them.
Make sure your MSP partner can support your Compliance efforts!
How SecureTech helps you with HIPAA Compliance
SecureTech understands that IT and digital communications require special attention in the context of HIPAA compliance. That’s why we offer HIPAA-managing services designed to help you create a safe environment for storing and handling protected health information (PHI). We will help you how to be HIPAA Compliant and much more. Let us be in charge!
Our email encryption service is a valuable tool that supports communication between healthcare providers and vendors. Deploying that solution will help protect PHI in part by requiring authentication to open emails.
To guard against a data breach that could expose PHI, our endpoint security and network infrastructure-monitoring services can protect PCs and servers, filter traffic and provide real-time alerts.
Our IC Armor Security Suite is an add-on that includes multi-factor authentication and phishing protection. Health care providers and vendors can benefit from those tools since they create an additional layer of security against unauthorized network access.
Encryption is a crucial element of HIPAA compliance since it renders data useless if a user doesn’t have an encryption key. We can encrypt data stored on hard drives and in emails and offer a secure backup-and-recovery solution. We can remotely wipe off a hard drive that is lost or stolen and help you meet the HIPAA guidelines’ backup and recovery requirements with our secure datacenter.
We see ourselves as long-term partners who can help you improve your current HIPAA compliance process. Our HIPAA-managing services will help you create a secure network, control who has PHI access, provide physicians with a safe way of sharing patients’ records and provide you with a HIPAA-compliant way of backing up your data.
Get in touch with SecureTech to learn more!
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Author bio: SecureTech has pioneered IT services in San Antonio for 18 years, consistently delivering business value with the latest technology.