An unfortunate reality of modern healthcare is that sensitive, regulated patient data is constantly at risk of hacking. Healthcare providers are acutely aware of their obligations under HIPAA. Even so, legal requirements of patient privacy protection have expanded dramatically,
Healthcare providers are also subject to state and local regulations and even the regulations of foreign countries. These requirements are imposed on every organization that handles sensitive personal information.
Healthcare IT managers must determine which regulations apply to them. Then they must determine which flows of information must be managed to achieve compliance. Adding to the burden, they must be able to produce evidence that they are following all the regulations of all the agencies with jurisdiction over them when they are questioned, or face stiff fines.
These are tough challenges for every healthcare IT department. Fortunately, healthcare IT departments have a clear path forward. IT managers must focus on addressing their organization’s privacy and security risks first, and then identify the discontinuities between the universe of its compliance requirements and the controls it has in place—with the help of CareCloud.
The Dynamic and Demanding Regulatory Landscape for Healthcare Providers
Healthcare providers must comply with an extraordinarily diverse variety of regulations administered not only by government agencies but also by healthcare industry leading organizations. Consider these four examples of vulnerabilities to regulatory mishaps with which every healthcare organization must deal.
Health Insurance and Portability Act of 1996, better known as HIPAA
In the US, this law defines a variety of requirements placed on healthcare providers and health insurance companies to protect patient data in paper and electronic formats. HIPAA defines the high-level physical, technical, and administrative protections that healthcare organizations must have and use.
Over the years, HIPAA has not changed, but it has been supplemented by new laws, such as the Health IT for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) investigates non-compliance with HIPAA and subsequent laws. Violators may be fined or, in extreme situations, make referrals to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation.
Over the last 20 years, HHS has investigated over 250,000 complaints under HIPAA laws and regulations. It has imposed fines totalling more than $111 million and made over 800 referrals for criminal prosecution.
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, also known as PCIDSS
The US Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard regulates healthcare providers along with retailers, banks, and other organizations that handle information for several brands of credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. The purpose of PCIDSS is to make it harder to steal credit card data by protecting both the data and the computers and networks that transmit it.
PCIDSS is not a law or a regulation. It is a contractual requirement of credit card companies for using their services. Healthcare providers who fail to comply with PCIDSS may be denied access to credit card transactions, a potentially fatal blow to their business.
California Consumer Privacy Act, also known as the CCPA
The California Consumer Privacy Act applies to larger organizations doing business with residents of California, and any organization doing business in California that sells, shares, or acquires personal data on at least 50,000 people. “Personal data” includes information such as IP addresses. The CCPA requires companies to delete all personal data on request. Violations of the CCPA can result in fines and payments to each person affected by those violations in the event of a class-action lawsuit.
General Data Protection Regulation, also known as GDPR
US healthcare providers are even regulated by European Union laws. The GDPR applies to any organization that has information on a citizen of the European Union and requires notification of a data breach within 72 hours. Healthcare organizations can be fined even when they are not at fault, for instance, when a patient’s data is breached by a hack on a third-party vendor.
What Do Healthcare Providers Need to Do to Deal with Data Vulnerabilities?
Chief Security Officer Rush Taggart, who is with one of CareCloud’s platform partners, CloudConnect, advises healthcare IT managers to take five essential steps to manage their vulnerabilities to data breaches and regulatory action:
- Control access. Make data available only to employees and third parties who need it.
- Make sure your entire staff is aware of phishing vulnerabilities. A single click can take down your entire system.
- Limit data accessibility. Don’t maintain data you aren’t using in your systems. Don’t give hackers a large, easy target.
- Keep up with patches. Make this a daily priority.
- Monitor traffic continuously. If your systems are breached, make sure you find out right away, not weeks or months later.
To Rush Taggart’s suggestions, we’ll add one more. Store your data in the cloud with a HIPAA-compliant system like CareCloud. Data is safer in a HIPAA-compliant cloud system than it is on a local server or in paper files. Physical theft of data is the most common data breach, which will cease to be a vulnerability when you use CareCloud.
How Does CareCloud Reduce Your Vulnerability to Data Breaches?
CareCloud uses industry-preferred encryption products. They protect patient data during transmissions between your network and the cloud and include an industry-standard firewall to defend against unwanted access to the system.
CareCloud stores your data under maximum security in multiple physical locations that are protected 24/7 by security personnel. Inside our data centers, your data is further protected by our internal security protocols.
We store your data on redundant servers. Storing your data on two servers protects it in case of natural disaster or sabotage.
And because we store data for so many organizations, we are able to make investments in security updates that smaller organizations are not.
CareCloud keeps your data safe. Your entire team across multiple locations can access your data safely and securely under your control.