In any business that is deeply involved with personal medical information and handling it all day long, every single day must be compliant with the act called Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or called HIPAA.
But what is HIPAA compliance? It is an act implemented by the United States’ Department of Human and Health Services (HHS), wherein the law focuses on the protection of the sensitive medical records of various patients that seek medical attention in many medical institutions around the country. The data the act wants to protect are both traditional (hard copy) and electronic (soft copy) data from people who may use the said sensitive data for bad intentions.
Due to that nature, the HHS mandates that all medical institutions strictly implement HIPAA rules when handling medical records of their patients in their facilities and data storage units, and while doing so, to be HIPAA compliant. But how can a medical institution and its personnel be HIPAA-compliant, especially with their respective websites?
Today, we look into the requirements a medical institution’s website needs to meet to be HIPAA-compliant.
HIPAA Compliance Requirements
Currently, HHS has implemented ten compliance requirements that medical institutions must strictly adhere to, or else they will be fined by HHS. Below are the said requirements.
- Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Protection
When creating and handling a website, the owner of the said website must employ a layer of protection to avoid being attacked by hackers with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) virtual attacks on their website and the servers managing the said website. This is where SSL comes in, as it is a form of network protocol protection for a website that includes the following:
- Client authentication
- Server authentication
- Encrypted communications
- Full Encryption of Stored, Received, and Sent Data
In conjunction with the first requirement, once a server has received, stored, and sent any amount of data, it must be fully encrypted. This HIPAA protects the data from being intercepted by malicious persons on the internet, such as black hat hackers that only want data that can be used for evil deeds.
- Full Backup of Stored, Received, and Sent Data
This requirement works along with the full encryption of any data. Once a server has received, stored, and sent any amounts of data, HIPAA mandates that a backup of the said data is done. This backup of stored information is also to make sure that the stored data to be seen and used by the owner on the medical institution’s website.
- Deletion of Unwanted Data Permanently
Aside from storing secure data in secure and encrypted server storage, HIPAA compliance requirements mandate that unwanted/unneeded data must also be securely deleted on their end. This process must be done once their patient wants to stop receiving service from them.
- Unwanted Access Being Restricted
When it comes to handling data, access to it must be restricted. This unwanted access is where HIPAA mandates restricted access to the data stored in a medical institution’s server storage. Usually, only authorized personnel and administrators can only access very sensitive medical information on their institution. Additionally, users must be restricted only on their data, and nothing else.
- Changes in Passwords Regularly
As the name suggests, the password of the accounts of most users must be changed regularly, to avoid security breaches within their website and system. Not doing so will incur a fine for the violating institutions under the HIPAA compliance.
- Various Protocols for Data Breaches
Reality isn’t perfect, and there is no perfect security. Therefore, HIPAA mandates that medical institutions following HIPAA standards must have various protocols in the event of a data breach in their server. Having multiple contingency plans is essential in this requirement.
- Having a HIPAAcompliant Officer
Any medical institution must have an officer within their ranks that specializes in maintaining your website while making sure that it is meeting HIPAA compliance requirements and standards. If that is not met, the offending medical institution may be fined and punished for not following this requirement.
- HIPAA Policies are Published Online
Not only being compliant with HIPAA requirements, but medical institutions must also publish on their website that they are following HIPAA compliance requirements, for their patients to know about it.
- Business Associate Agreement with HIPAA Compliance Agrees with Site Host
By providing medical services, institutions doing so are also considered as a business, and therefore they must have business associate agreements with any partner vendors that they have. This requirement will also cover the site host of the institution’s server and website.
How Eternus Global is Complying
As an information and technology outsourcing & medical KPO company, Eternus Global provides medical writing services that strictly follow HIPAA standards to avoid publishing sensitive and personal information in their articles that they provide to their clients.
The articles that they provide to their clients are thoroughly checked and scanned for possible sensitive information that might not meet HIPAA standards. If ever there is an instance that there is an article containing confidential medical information that will violate HIPAA standards, Eternus Global will ensure that information will be removed or be altered to meet the said standards, while making sure that they are meeting their client’s needs.
Eternus Global also provides other article writing services aside from medical-related topics that their clients might be looking for.
As we have seen above, there are many detailed requirements, strict rules, and specific guidelines HIPAA constantly mandates that all medical institutions nationwide must strictly follow on their end unless they want to face fines and punishment from the law.
They should follow those rules to the heart, to properly handle sensitive medical information of their patients, to avoid that said information to be used by people with ill intentions, wherein most of those are people lurking in the dark side of the internet as hackers and people who want to fish out personal information for their advantage.