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Expert Tips to Improve Your HIPAA Compliance in 2020

If you work in the medical field or provide services to those in that industry, compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is most likely at the top of your list when it comes to IT decisions and your cybersecurity.

HIPAA governs how protected health information (PHI) is shared and safeguarded from unauthorized access. HIPAA compliance means adhering to the rules set out that include everything from where PHI is stored to how soon you have to notify parties of a data breach.

A fact that makes complying with data privacy regulations even more challenging for businesses is that the healthcare industry is often at the top of a hacker’s target list. This is especially true with ransomware attacks.

Ransomware has doubled in 2019 and the reason that the healthcare sector is  a top target is because of the importance of needing to access patient health records. Being able to see a patient’s medical history during an emergency can be a life or death situation.

This is why many hospitals and others in healthcare will pay the ransom quickly to get their file access back, which encourages more attacks in this sector.

There is currently more than one data breach happening in the healthcare sector every single day.

Along with managed IT services, Unbound Digital helps our clients with data privacy compliance, including HIPAA compliance. We use a multi-layered approach to ensure protection on multiple fronts and give our clients peace of mind that their sensitive data is protected, and their compliance is secured.

Following are several tips for best practices you can employ to strengthen your HIPAA compliance in 2020 and beyond.

HIPAA Compliance Tips & Best Practices

HIPAA includes multiple rules when it comes to how you handle a patient’s protected health information. It can be daunting when you initially look through the guidelines and penalties for non-compliance.

But following IT security best practices is one of the best ways to stay on the right path when it comes to HIPAA compliance, and compliance with other data privacy regulations like FINRA and PCI DSS.

Here are several tips for improving your compliance with HIPAA guidelines.

Secure Devices that have Patient Records Access

One HIPAA violation occurred because a laptop was left unattended in a breakroom. It was stolen, along with the patient health information it contained.

Devices that have access to patient information should be safeguarded with lock screens that require a passcode and the ability to remote wipe a device if it’s stolen. Devices also should not be left open with patient records showing on the screen or logged in to records databases once you’ve retrieved what you need.

Backup All Data Offsite

With ransomware so rampant in the healthcare industry, the need for a backup that can be quickly restored after an attack is vital. Cloud backups ensure you have a clean copy of your data to restore and can allow you access in the event of a local power outage or other event that causes physical damage to your facility.

Practice Good Password Management

Credential theft is a popular way to break into networks and the weak passwords that employees tend to use often makes it all too easy. Securing user passwords can significantly increase your cybersecurity and reduce your chance of a data breach.

Password management tips include:

  • Requiring that users create strong passwords
  • Using a password management application
  • Never sharing passwords with colleagues
  • Not writing down passwords and leaving them on or near the device they’re used for
  • Using multi-factor authentication for all your logins

Apply Updates & Security Patches in a Timely Manner

Keeping all your devices updated can be challenging if you’re not subscribed to an IT plan that includes patch and update management. But it’s vital that all operating systems, applications, and firmware patches and updates are applied in a timely manner, otherwise you leave yourself open for a data breach.

1 in 3 data breaches are caused by unpatched system vulnerabilities.

Make Sure Venders are HIPAA Compliant

Any vendors you use that have access to your PHI, such as an accounting firm, should also be HIPAA compliant, and HIPAA regulations say that you’re responsible to ensure they are. If there’s a breach of a vendor that you’ve entrusted with your patient records, you’ll be the one fined and held responsible by the HIPAA guidelines.

Use Good Antivirus/Anti-Malware Solutions

It’s important to employ the use of good antivirus and anti-malware programs that will monitor your network for any threats and help safeguard your data. The best solutions, like SentinelOne, include use of AI and behavior-based learning to help them identify new threats that may not have been seen before. Also look for tools that use things like sandboxing and application white listing for superior protection.

We Can Help You with HIPAA Compliance!

You don’t have to face HIPAA compliance alone. Unbound Digital is well versed in the HIPAA requirements and can help ensure your network and data are safeguarded and make compliance a breeze.

Get help with data privacy compliance today! Call us at 423-335-2461 or contact us online.

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