Addressing cybersecurity issues that impact HIPAA compliance

Health care practices everywhere are ramping up their efforts to migrate to electronic medical software and practices to improve the accuracy of their patient health information and billing processes. Though the aim is to streamline their processes and reduce costs, many health care organizations are encountering challenges that interfere with HIPAA compliance.

 The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act provides basic guidelines on how practices can protect sensitive patient health information without compromising their goals and creating issues that cause them to run afoul of the law. One area that has a significant impact on how well a health care organization maintains compliance is cybersecurity.

 Understanding the causes for cybercrime in health care

 Cybercriminals are getting smarter, causing more data breaches and gaining access to patient health information. Employees may lack proper oversight and training, causing them to make critical errors that cause their employers to receive hefty fines and sanctions. The right strategies can reduce cybersecurity attacks and improve HIPAA compliance, thus mitigating the need for employee disciplinary action and litigation.

 Tackling the issue from the inside and out

 A common misconception among the public as well as health care network and security administrators is that cyberattacksand network security breaches are external, isolated events. However, sensitive patient data, such as addresses, names, contact numbers and Social Security numbers, is often compromised from internal sources via employee mistakes and unauthorized access. Focus your efforts on strengthening cybersecurity to protect patient information. Carefully monitoring and restricting internal workers and software access is as crucial as regulating external access.

 Harmonizing the use of technology, workers and compliance mandates

 Evaluate your employees and the technology and software your organization has in place to manage patient health information. Compliance requires your employees to know the law and proper steps they must take to protect sensitive information. An audit system can add to the effectiveness of your practice’s system of checks and balances, improve reporting accuracy and response, and mitigate many of the challenges that health care organizations like yours face today in achieving HIPAAcompliance.