Cybersecurity is an increasing threat to healthcare companies, but there’s a larger threat looming within the potential for cyber attacks: HIPAA compliance of digital healthcare assets.

Last year was the target of two severe healthcare data breaches, making it one of the worst on record. Though an improvement over 2015, where over 78.8 million healthcare records were compromised in a single attack, 2017 revealed there is still much work to be done to protect patient data in today’s digital world.

The Struggle of HIPAA Compliance in the Digital Age

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was established around the same time that dial-up internet started creeping into homes. Back then, the threat of a healthcare data breach wasn’t on many radars. Times have certainly changed, for better and for worse, which has led to the evolution of the Security Rule that establishes standards to protect patient data in electronic form.

The problem for many healthcare facilities isn’t necessarily establishing a HIPAA-compliant digital network, but rather safeguarding it through ongoing maintenance.

Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, with security features continually being updated to fend off would-be cybercriminals. It’s become a problem for many IT departments in the healthcare space because of the added layer of complexity presented by HIPAA and the Security Rule. As cyberattackers become smarter, more skilled, and more desperate, IT teams must be constantly vigilant of any advances in security to ensure facilities can remain HIPAA compliant.

Remote Connections Add to the Complexities

The rise of remote connections and portable devices in healthcare facilities have only made it tougher for IT teams in healthcare.

Nowadays, your network might have hundreds of devices requesting access at any given time. Physicians may opt to bring their own devices, such as a smartphone, to use at work. Nurses are charting tablets. Many facilities opt to provide mobile devices to streamline daily operations.

Add in the increasing switch from local servers to cloud storage and you’ve got the perfect recipe for compliance issues.

How to Tell if Your Network is HIPAA Compliant

It’s a never-ending battle, and healthcare companies like Anthem have already lost big. You can avoid becoming one of them by ensuring your digital network is HIPAA compliant.

Start by reviewing your current policies on network access and compare them to how your users are accessing the network. Getting specific with how users can leverage mobile devices, even their own, to access the network can help you mitigate some of the risk associated with remote connections.

Also, reviewing security measures like two-factor authentication, encryptions, firewalls, and other network components should be a routine procedure.

If you rely on cloud storage for any part of your network, you should ensure the provider is also HIPAA-compliant. It should be noted in your service agreement that they are HIPAA-compliant to further reduce any risk to your organization.

HIPAA Compliance is Everyone’s Responsibility

Maintaining up-to-date HIPAA compliance on your network isn’t just the job of your IT professionals – it’s everyone’s responsibility. Every person who accesses the network should be trained on best practices and procedures that provide safe, secure connections during every session.

Contact us today to learn more about how LifePoint helps you uphold HIPAA compliance in your organization.

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