HIPAA helps healthcare organizations protect the privacy and security of patient data. The compliance measures address common risks and vulnerabilities that threaten patient information. The safeguards established in these standards cover technical and non-technical methods for achieving this goal. Organizations can opt for a DIY approach for HIPAA compliance in Michigan or bring in an outsourced managed IT service provider to handle the project.

HIPAA Requirements – Understanding The Security Rule

The HIPAA Security Rule has a two-fold purpose: it establishes standards for individual health information security while also making it possible for covered entities to use innovative technology to improve patient health outcomes, operations and other areas.

Cybercriminals target the healthcare industry twice as much as other markets, according to CSO Online. A lack of security upgrades, outdated systems and poor maintenance practices are a few vulnerabilities that can make healthcare organizations more susceptible to breaches. The HIPAA Security Rule recognizes this dangerous environment and requires a systemic approach to safeguarding electronic patient health information.

The three Security Rule compliance categories organizations need to address are administrative safeguards, physical safeguards and technical safeguards.

Administrative Safeguards

A risk and vulnerability analysis can uncover the threats that face e-PHI in the organization. The security management processes should minimize the risks and provide enough flexibility to adapt to new threats as they emerge.

Electronic Medical Records Software

The company also needs policies and procedures that strictly control who can access e-PHI. These permissions can be user-based, role-based or a combination that best fits the organization’s structure. A designated security official oversees the creation and deployment of these policies.

The proper training and supervision of the workforce is another essential component to a comprehensive security plan. HIPAA compliance in Michigan requires all employees understand the security measures in place and the consequences that occur if they are not followed.

The last of the administrative safeguards is periodic evaluations of the performance of the security policies and procedures. If the Security Rule changes, this assessment gives the organization the chance to correct any compliance issues.

Physical Safeguards

Internal threats are another risk to data security. The physical safeguards in place must include keeping physical access to storage devices to authorized personnel only and creating policies for securing workstations and other devices that contain e-PHI.

Technical Safeguards

The four categories of technical safeguards for HIPAA compliance include access, audit and integrity controls, along with transmission security.

Options for Compliance

There are two primary options for Healthcare Providers to comply. One involves doing it in-house for those who have the time and resources and the other employs the help of a Managed IT Service Provider (MSP), such as Heiden Technology, that specializes in HIPAA compliance.

Do-it-yourself HIPAA Compliance in Michigan

Healthcare Providers have several methods for working on HIPAA compliance in-house. Self-assessment tools give them the resources they need to verify that they’re meeting the requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule.

Self-Assessment Checklist

HIPAA Compliance Checklist

The HIPAA Journal publishes a compliance checklist that covers the technical, physical and administrative security requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule, as well as the Privacy, Breach Notification, Enforcement and Omnibus rules. The list is well-organized so companies can see each component at a glance. It also goes over useful tips for HIPAA compliance in Michigan.

Risk Assessment Software Tools

The HealthIT.gov risk assessment tool, developed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the HHS Office for Civil Rights, is a downloadable solution that guides companies through a HIPAA compliant risk assessment. It examines an organization’s processes, systems and policies to determine the level of risk and makes recommendations on addressing problematic areas.

All of the data entered into the tool is kept on the local machine. It does not send any of it to the OHS or HHS. It provides reports, vulnerability ratings, a tracker for any assets and business associates, and a progress tracker.

The NIST HSR Toolkit is a desktop application that goes into detail on the 45 implementation specifications and helps organizations assess their adoption of each component. The questions cover everything from the security practices they have in place to what the company will do in the event of a data breach. It only includes the HIPAA Security Rule.

Outsourcing HIPAA Compliance in Michigan

The DIY route can be resource-intensive for companies, especially if they don’t have enough IT security professionals to evaluate the current infrastructure, create a plan and implement the necessary changes. They may not be able to stay on top of other important projects that are necessary to keep the business operating normally.

Outsourcing HIPAA compliance in these situations frees up the company’s resources and provides expert help through a managed IT service provider who specializes in healthcare IT. Organizations don’t have to pull their in-house IT security staff away from other essential projects to work on HIPAA compliance. Instead, specialists who are highly experienced at implementing these security requirements in a variety of environments can handle the process.

They stay on top of any changes or addendums to the HIPAA standards to help healthcare organizations maintain compliance and avoid costly fines. These security professionals also keep informed about the latest cybersecurity threats that face the healthcare industry. They can proactively adjust the IT security strategy to account for new types of attacks.

HIPAA compliance in Michigan allows healthcare providers working with electronic protected health information to keep their data private and secure. Both DIY and outsourced approaches have their place, depending on the size, structure and resources available to the organization. In many cases, outsourcing to an IT support company with HIPAA experience is the right call.

The Gap Analysis

The first step towards compliance will require the IT company to see how large the “gap” is between how you currently handle patient data and the requirements outline in HIPAA. Hence the name, “Gap Analysis.” Gap Analyses are designed to find inadequacies in current system setups and processes that do not comply with the HIPAA regulation. Going through your systems and procedure is the first step to ensuring compliance without completely starting from the ground up and wasting resources that may already comply with the law.

The gap analysis may reveal inadequacies including:

  • How access to information is controlled to make sure only the minimum required people have access
  • How staff and system administrators are trained
  • How patient data is stored, whether on premise or in the cloud
  • How security controls and measures are implemented

Without the Gap Analysis, it’s difficult to know what changes a healthcare provider needs to make to adhere to the HIPAA requirement. The IT company will use the Gap Analysis results to build a comprehensive remediation plan.

The Remediation Plan

The IT Company will develop a remediation plan based on the results of the Gap Analysis. A remediation plan may include small, relatively inexpensive fixes to a network and it’s procedures, or it may involve a complete overhaul of the network. A remediation plan will be unique to each healthcare provider based on their current network configuration and procedures. Remediation plans provide care documentation of processes that don’t meet today’s HIPAA standards.

Heiden Technologies HIPAA Compliance Solution

At Heiden Technology Solutions, we have a thorough understanding of the strict privacy policies and mandated technology guidelines required for health practices to successfully move into the digital age. We help healthcare providers throughout the state of Michigan become HIPAA compliant and mitigate the risks posed to their information systems.

For more information on our HIPAA compliance services, please see our Healthcare IT Solutions, or give us a call at (800) 979-9413 to speak to a HIPAA compliance expert in Michigan who can help you today.