Today, managed services providers (MSPs) who service clients in the healthcare industry have to worry about compliance—it’s simply part of the job. These MSPs offer their services to small- and medium-sized medical practices who rely on them to keep their security architecture safe and compliant with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Bearing the burden of this responsibility means that MSPs must have encyclopedic knowledge about HIPAA, and also have the proper security tools in place to meet the stringent requirements that are associated with HIPAA compliance.
As the healthcare industry continues to move away from paper processes and adopt new technologies, they are becoming increasingly prone to cyber attacks. It’s now more important than ever for MSPs to fully understand the HIPAA Security Rule and enable the medical practices they serve to remain compliant.
It’s important to note that HIPAA compliance isn’t only for those directly within the healthcare industry. In fact, nearly anyone dealing with electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) including doctors, hospital technicians and yes, the healthcare MSPs who manage hospital computers and networks are required to be HIPAA compliant. Now that modern medical organizations are rapidly adopting new systems such as computerized physician order entry (CPOE) and electronic health records (EHR), it falls upon the MSP to make sure all of these systems comply with the HIPAA Security Rule.
What Is the HIPAA Security Rule?
The HIPAA Security Rule establishes national standards to protect an individual’s personal health information (PHI) that is being maintained and managed by a separate entity such as a doctor’s office or hospital. This rule enforces protection of privacy of patient’s health information while enabling medical practices to adopt new technologies to improve the quality and efficiency in patient care.
Because the needs of medical practices differ, the Security Rule is designed to be scalable and flexible so that each medical practice can implement policies, procedures, and technologies that are appropriate for their size and organizational structure. Any and all documentation related to a person’s health is protected by the HIPAA security rule—this can include anything from blood work results, copies of an MRI report, or simply all materials related to a patient’s medical history.
The HIPAA Security Rule strives to ensure that:
- The PHI an organization produces, receives, or transmits is kept confidential.
- Any threats to their security environment are identified and
- Usage of PHI that is inappropriate and impermissible is prevented.
- Medical staff are aware of the appropriate behavior required to maintain compliance.
HIPAA and the MSP
The modern healthcare industry requires reliability, efficiency, and security to operate at optimal levels and provide the care patients need, and MSPs have a big opportunity to service and protect this industry. Even with the HIPAA security rule in place, healthcare organizations are still becoming victim to cyber attacks as the threats they face are becoming more sophisticated. Just this past spring, WannaCry ransomware crippled the UK’s National Health Service and forced hospitals in the US to take action to secure their systems against the virus. And under two months ago, the Petya ransomware shut down some of the IT systems of a healthcare facility in Pennsylvania.
Although doctors are very smart and competent professionals, they are usually not IT experts and rely heavily on their MSP to avoid the severe consequences of falling victim these types of occurrences. Therefore, MSPs will need to provide the proper security tools that will be able to scale and adapt to the increasingly dangerous threats that the medical industry is facing today. Take a look at our HIPAA complinace checklist for help with this!
After an in-depth security assessment of Continuum’s platform to verify that we are able to successfully serve the medical community in their need to maintain compliance with HIPAA, we possess this statement of compliance to further validate to our partners how our solution is suitable for their respective healthcare clients. To learn more about managed IT services in healthcare, please visit Continuum’s Managed IT Services in Healthcare webpage.
By Meaghan Moraes
By George Anderson