In today’s technologically driven, nonstop healthcare setting, the widespread availability of a computer ecosystem that complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is nonnegotiable. HIPAA compliance is always a severe worry in aspects of both protection and availability because healthcare systems now fully depend on massive amounts of data at all times. Not only must healthcare businesses adhere to HIPAA standards at all times, but every company handling healthcare data in any function must also adhere to the regulations.
HIPAA exclusively protects individual healthcare records and information of patients. The HIPAA regulations reflect the issues addressed by business continuity and disaster recovery when they mention:
- Requiring a covered entity to perform a full and accurate evaluation of potential risks and vulnerabilities
- Determining the importance of relevant applications and data
- Establishing a framework to allow important business processes to continue in an emergency mode while protecting the security of electronically protected health information
- Restoring any data lost
Without a comprehensive understanding of business continuity and disaster recovery planning, this is impossible to achieve.
What is HIPAA Compliance?
HIPAA is the law that governs the protection of sensitive patient data. To achieve HIPAA compliance, businesses that deal with protected health information (PHI) must have structural, network, and procedural security measures established and follow them. HIPAA compliance is required of covered entities, such as those who provide healthcare treatment, payment, and operations, and business associates who have access to patient information and assist with treatment, payment, or operations. Subcontractors and any associated business associates, for example, must likewise comply.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notes that HIPAA compliance is more vital than ever as healthcare providers and other organizations dealing with PHI shift to computerized operations, such as computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems, electronic health records (EHR), and radiology, pharmacy, and laboratory systems. Health plans, meanwhile, allow access to claims, patient care, and self-service tools. While all of these electronic approaches improve efficiency and mobility, they also significantly raise the security threats associated with healthcare data.
What You Should Know in Terms of Business Continuity
Electronically protected health information (ePHI) is one of the most valuable pieces of digital data, as well as one of the most sought-after types of information by hackers. Early in the development and usage of far-reaching electronic processes in the healthcare business, it was recognized that this type of data would be susceptible to hacking and other criminal acts, and it was necessary to adopt regulations to protect it and maintain its availability because it was vulnerable to natural and man-made calamities.
Disasters can—and frequently do—strike in an instant, putting healthcare organizations at risk of losing access to critical data needed to run the system and recover information that can save their patients’ lives. As a result, HIPAA also covers this area of ePHI protection. Floods, tornadoes, storms, fires, disruptions, and data breaches are all examples of disasters that can affect healthcare data. Because any of these events can expose everyone to a variety of hazards, HIPAA protects them all.
To preserve HIPAA compliance in the most unforeseeable of circumstances, every healthcare industry needs strong and dependable data recovery and business continuity methods as well as a HIPAA contingency plan. Under the Administrative Safeguards under the Security Rule specifically within Title II, the HIPAA helps to explain what is required as a foundation for such business continuity and disaster recovery solutions.
What Guidelines Do You Need to Take to Secure HIPAA-Compliant Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity?
When creating your own BC and DR strategy, keep crucial elements in mind, such as the necessity for data backup, emergency phase operations, evaluation and revision procedures, and the ability to evaluate which apps and data are mission-critical.
Here are some essential guidelines you and your healthcare IT team can take to guarantee that you’re on the right track to designing and implementing robust business continuity and disaster recovery plans.
- Determine all of the ePHI that needs to be backed up and protected, as well as its location within the system.
- Decide on the method and location you’ll use to back up the data.
- Decide how often each backup will be restored, as well as how those backups will be reproduced.
- Attempt to predict the vulnerabilities that your healthcare organization is most likely to face, and then develop a separate plan for each potential danger.
- Create an overview general response and recovery strategy for any disaster that you may not be able to forecast, as there are always unforeseen eventualities.