Basic Standards for HIPAA Compliance on the Web

3 min

The protection of personal data in the healthcare domain is a very important issue. Lost or inaccurate patient data can lead to negative consequences, fraud attacks, and bad or inadequate medical care.

To avoid that and protect patient data, the US government and its healthcare system created the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to help standardize the process of safeguarding this information. Even though HIPAA was a big step forward in healthcare, many practices still fail to meet even the most basic HIPAA requirements.

Back in 2014, CNN Business covered the problem of data safety in healthcare:

“Recent numbers show 90% of healthcare organizations have exposed their patients’ data – or had it stolen – in 2012 and 2013, according to privacy researchers at the Ponemon Institute.”

Healthcare has improved dramatically in recent years through new technological advances. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other technologies that analyze big data have played a significant role in data protection and data quality in healthcare. Forbes noted that using such innovations as AI, the cloud, and Big Data technologies help to process patient data faster and more efficiently.

Sensitive data is a major target for hackers of all types, so confidential medical records are considered to be more ‘desirable’ for scammers than credit card and bank account information.

While building a website, application, or Internet of Things (IoT) technology that will collect and store the confidential health records of your users, you need to consider HIPAA rules. The first thing you must do is hire a reliable developer or technical partner to ensure the best results.

Let’s figure out how to avoid the most common HIPAA compliant pitfalls.

How HIPAA Rules Influence Sensitive Data

If you want to deliver and implement any healthcare technology solutions, you must follow HIPAA regulations.

HIPAA stores, processes, and deletes data to ensure sensitive medical information collected through different web sources stays secure. So your healthcare technology project must meet the requirements to be considered HIPAA compliant. High data protection is an indicator of the site’s reputation and the basis for trust with the client.

For comparison, when scammers hack your bank card, it’s easy to notice it if you review your statement or when the card issuer’s fraud department alerts you. In the case of healthcare data, the patient may not even suspect that his or her sensitive data has been hacked by criminals. And, what happens then? Hackers can illegally use the stolen data to purchase prescription drugs or traffic them, commit organ transplant fraud, or to blackmail a person whose information has been stolen. And, this is not the full list of potential issues. To avoid such situations, developers must be sure to follow the HIPAA standards.

What Do You Need to Make Your Website or App HIPAA Compliant

SSL Protection

This is the first step to protect data on your website. A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate is an encryption-based Internet security protocol for the site that shows that the personal data of users on the site is protected. If you don’t have an SSL certificate, users who visit your website may see a warning about an insecure connection, which leads to user distrust.

Users may also leave the site quickly fearing that hackers can gain access to data stored on their personal computers using an open connection or hack bank account information. In the healthcare industry, SSL is even more crucial. The absence of such a certificate shows that the site is running against HIPAA regulations, and users will not store their data.

Full Data Encryption

All the data you store in the cloud must also be fully encrypted. To do that, you need to follow two rules. First, choose a decent cloud provider to ensure that sensitive data is protected. Second, pick a reliable host that adheres to HIPAA requirements and takes Protected Health Information (PHI) seriously.

Full Data Backup

Backups are very important, as you need to store a copy of your data in a reliable place with stronger encryption than the source.

Permanent Data Deletion

If you think deleting the data of your users is as easy as ABC, you are wrong. In some cases, you need to properly delete users’ data (for example, when the client no longer uses your services).

This is a whole process. You need to delete data so the server does not store traces of it. And make it impossible to restore personal data that is no longer relevant to your business.

HIPAA Compliance Officer

If your company works with medical data that allows patient identification, you need to constantly monitor the stored data, as well as verify compliance with HIPAA standards. As with any regulation, it is possible to conduct changes to HIPAA laws, especially as this relates to the development of big data technologies and machine learning. Despite this, hackers are still finding more ways of tricking security systems. To protect data from scammers, you need to hire a highly-qualified person to monitor changes in legislative regulations, and immediately make appropriate actions to strengthen security measures on the site.

Limited Access

You need to take the human factor into account. And you should develop both the user interface and back-end of your site where only the users have access to their data, and only one administrator has access to the administrative panel of the site and the information stored. There are also various actions that you need to take. For example, both users and the administrator must change passwords as often as possible. This is a general security requirement, and this action has saved data from theft on many occasions.

Wrapping it Up

The procedure for working with data and ensuring its security is one of the most important requirements for creating IT solutions in the healthcare sector. It is crucial to choose developers and technology vendors who have a clear understanding of HIPAA standards and how they interact with IT solutions you want to implement.

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