Healthcare services are regulated, and several regulations and compliance requirements cover them. For example, in the United States, the industry needs to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations, affecting various organizations. Aside from the healthcare providers and facilities, HIPAA also covers the support of healthcare providers and agencies that do not deliver healthcare directly, such as healthcare clearinghouses and health plan providers.
Healthcare organizations are vulnerable and constantly targeted by cybercriminals because of the volume of sensitive and critical data they collect and store. For example, in 2020, thousands to millions of patient data were compromised due to cyber attacks.
Thus, the need for HIPAA, compliance is required. Achieving HIPAA compliance is a long process, which can take between one to three years to complete if the organization assigns a dedicated staff to handle it. Likewise, the compliance is continuous because there will always be tech upgrades and changes in medical processes. With the number of requirements to meet, most healthcare organizations opt to employ HIPAA automation to assure that they follow all the steps in the process and have all the documentation and safeguards available.
Challenges in maintaining HIPAA compliance
Remaining HIPAA compliant is challenging, as many aspects need constant and continuous monitoring. Likewise, a healthcare organization must ensure that they are HIPAA compliant because failure to do so has dire consequences, including heavy fines.
Here are some of the challenges healthcare facilities face.
1. Technical challenges
Your facility should have the technical controls to ensure data protection. Limit access to the information only to authorized personnel. There should be strict security protocols to control who will use the data and for what purpose and the authorized personnel should follow strict guidelines in data transmission. Moreover, only a few assigned staff should be allowed to edit, delete, or destroy specific files.
2. Administrative challenges
You should have tight controls over data storage and access processes in place to protect sensitive health information. Assigning a person to handle security control oversight will help you control your HIPAA compliance efforts. In addition, regular employee training and continuous assessment will help determine if your security measures are still effective.
3. Physical challenges
Aside from data protection, you must secure your facility by limiting access to where your patients’ data is stored. Moreover, it is critical to secure employees’ workstations and mobile devices.
4. Challenges on risk analysis
One of the biggest challenges you will encounter is risk assessment, which must be conducted regularly. You can either hire additional IT staff to ensure continuous monitoring of your system for any vulnerability or outsource it to a third party specializing in risk assessments and management.
5. Challenges in policies, procedures, and documentation
HIPAA compliance involves various requirements, including developing and deploying policies and procedures that all staff members should follow. Likewise, all internal changes or changes in HIPAA regulations require documentation. If you have an automated system and ensure regular updating, you will not have too many problems.
Maintaining HIPAA compliance is taxing for organizations of any size. However, since healthcare facilities are always at risk, it is vital to remain vigilant, use an automated system, and have the required security protocols to thwart data breaches.