HIPAA Security Training for Protected Health Information Compliance

Data security is the primary concern for healthcare organizations and their business associates. According to industry reports for 2010, data integrity-related breaches affected more than 5 million people. This underlines the need of adopting better safety measures for protecting Patient Health Information (PHI), even among the bigger healthcare organizations, and maintaining HIPAA Security Compliance. Some measures that can be taken towards this objective include:

Adopt HIPAA Security in Workplace Culture
Organizations should ensure that HIPAA security compliance is incorporated as a part of best practices. All technical and manpower processes related to patient data should be under the scanner with a view to improve them. Personnel familiar with HIPAA updates and personnel who have implemented HIPAA guidelines at the state of district level should be appointed for overseeing such functions. To make such practices an integral part of workplace culture, all employees should be at least familiar with HIPAA basics. This can be achieved by providing them Basic HIPAA Security Training.

Adopt Risk Management
HIPAA violations should be interpreted as a direct risk to the overall goodwill and financial well-being of on organization. Like any other risk handing procedure, risk management for HIPAA should include assessing possible threats. This includes technical threats to PHI storage or access systems being used.

Adopt HIPAA-centric Relationships with Business Associates
Hospitals and clinics invariably work with various vendors (or business associates). Thus, healthcare facilities should make their associates understand the criticality of ensuring HIPAA security compliance. Healthcare organizations can even assess a vendor based upon this ability to understand HIPAA compliance issues. The vendor should be assessed on the type of data security measures he employs or proposes to develop. Hospitals/clinics can recommend HIPAA Security Training to their business associates too.

Adopt Greater Data Breach Sensitivity
Many cases of PHI breach don’t engage serious reviews because the risk threshold wasn’t crossed. However, such incidents need to be documented and their seriousness should be shared with the employees. This is the best way of sensitizing employees about the criticality of maintaining organizational HIPAA security compliance.

Adopt Better Auditing Practices
Bigger healthcare facilities can employ automated technologies for better tracking of users accessing PHI. Tracking in real-time ensures that authorities are alerted against the most minimal of data security risks.

Adopt Better Internal Processes
Covered entities should have an effective, internal process to ensure that any software handling PHI is up-to-date with the latest HIPAA guidelines. Employees should be assessed on their understanding of HIPAA standards and the extent up to which they are adopting the same. This is the easiest way to prevent outages or hacks threatening patient data and prevent incidents of internal violations.

Adopt Better Data Encryption
Covered entities need to understand that comprehensive security against data hacking or unauthorized access can be ensured only with data encryption. Encrypting data guarantees compliance with HIPAA’s PHI integrity standards when data is shared across networks. Data encryption also helps to evaluate any possibility of data breaches. Encryption needs to be adopted in a more comprehensive manner, across sharing of medical data over mobile devices to emails exchanged between different departments or different healthcare facilities. Yes, Encryption too requires a robust internal system that can ensure overall data protection but it is more effective than other contemporary solutions.

Adopt Better Monitoring of Database
One aspect of HIPAA Security Compliance has remained somewhat unacknowledged by covered entities, i.e. database monitoring. Current EHR standards talk about monitoring activity across workplace networks/systems but don’t address the risk of data being accessed directly, using the database itself. Yes, a database analyst is hired by healthcare facilities but overdependence on the analyst means becoming vulnerable to human errors and this raises the possibility of breach also. Healthcare facilities should monitor the activities of their database analyst too.

Adopt Greater Data Awareness
Data awareness refers to the organization being always aware about how & where PHI is stored or accessed across the network. This kind of Data Mapping is central to HIPAA security compliance across larger networks where numerous external users are also provided access. Using automated processes for this can make things a bit easy. This also eases identifying data threats and implementing policies for better patient data security.

Adopt HIPAA Training For All Employees
The most progressive of hardware or software security measures cannot succeed until the manpower resources—network users or employees, understand HIPAA security compliance. Educating users is the primary, most critical demand for achieving and sustaining HIPAA compliance in the long term. For this, organizations need to invest in HIPAA security training. The availability of very affordable, short-term online HIPAA Courses ensures that such training is not a burden on the healthcare facilities.