This article covers what you need to do in the event of breach of your healthcare information systems. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), all U.S. organizations that handle healthcare data must take steps to keep that data secure. If your healthcare organization in Michigan experiences a healthcare data breach, you must take action right away to find out what happened and minimize the damage. The following information can help you respond correctly to a healthcare data breach to protect both your clients and your organization’s reputation.

What Regulations Govern Healthcare Data Breaches?

The HIPAA Breach Notification Rule, 45 CFR §§ 164.400-414, requires all organizations that handle healthcare data to notify authorities as soon as possible after a breach occurs. This regulation applies not only to healthcare providers, but also to all businesses that handle personal health records, including contractors that provide services to the healthcare industry. This federal regulation applies throughout the state of Michigan and the rest of the United States.

What Constitutes a Breach of Healthcare Data?

A healthcare data breach is any disclosure of data that could compromise the privacy of protected health information. If you are not sure whether a healthcare data breach has occurred, you need to consider the following factors:

  • The extent and nature of the protected health information that might have been disclosed.
  • The person or organization to whom the information has been disclosed.
  • The likelihood that a disclosure occurred.
  • Any mitigating factors that reduce the risk to the protected health data.

What Are the Notification Requirements for Healthcare Data Breaches?

When you discover that a breach of healthcare data has taken place, you must notify the Secretary using a breach report form. You must also notify the individual people whose healthcare data has been compromised, whether they are located in Michigan or outside of the state. In some extreme situations, you might even be required to notify the media so they can spread the word to anyone who might be affected by the breach.

If the breach is small, affecting no more than 500 people, there is no need to panic. For these kinds of minor breaches, you only have to notify the Secretary once per year. The requirement is that you must report the breach no more than 60 days after the end of the calendar year in which the breach occurs. However, if the breach affects more than 500 people, you are legally required to notify the Secretary within 60 days of the breach. Ideally, you should file the report as soon as possible.

What Should Michigan Businesses Do First When They Discover a Healthcare Data Breach?

The first step in dealing with a healthcare data breach is to work out exactly what has happened. The sooner you can detect a breach, the greater the opportunity you have to limit the amount of damage that can occur.

Your organization should already have a procedure in place to regularly scan your networks for malware, hacking attempts, and suspicious activity. Michigan businesses that do not already have these security measures in place should work with IT services to develop them as soon as possible. Taking action now to prevent a healthcare data breach is much better than trying to pick up the pieces after a breach happens.

How Can Michigan Businesses Identify and Respond to An Attack?

Once you spot the signs of a healthcare data breach, you need to do everything you can to quickly identify the source of the attack. Working out where the attack is coming from will help you to neutralize the threat as efficiently and effectively as possible. This knowledge will also help you to put new security measures in place to reduce the risk of a similar data breach happening again in future.

Ideally, you should have tools in place that collect network data to let you know where the breach is coming from. For example, these tools can tell you what part of the world incoming attacks are originating from by recording IP addresses.

How Can Michigan Healthcare Businesses Limit the Damage of a Data Breach?

During a healthcare data breach, it is important to take action to isolate the threat. Shut down compromised systems to contain the malware infection or penetration of your information networks. Be sure to check all systems carefully, even those that do not initially appear to be affected. It is very important to identify the full extent of a healthcare data breach so you do not miss any required information out of your breach report.

What Can Michigan Businesses Do To Recover From a Healthcare Data Breach?

After a data breach, all Michigan businesses should investigate the incident as thoroughly as possible. This involves carrying out a forensic data analysis. Most healthcare contractors and providers in Michigan do not have the skills they need to carry out such an investigation in house. Therefore, the best thing to do is to work with a Managed IT Services company the specializes in IT Services for Healthcare. By working with an IT Services company in this way, you can find out exactly what security flaws led to the data breach and put new procedures and processes in place to prevent another breach occurring in future.