Steps to HIPAA Compliance for Cloud-Based Systems

The rapid growth of cloud computing has also led a rapid growth in concerns pertaining to security and privacy in cloud-based infrastructure. Hence, such fears create a huge requirement to understand and implement cloud computing for healthcare organizations, while being compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

The benefits offered by cloud-based technology are too good to let go. The agility and flexibility that can be gained by utilizing public, private, and hybrid clouds are quite compelling.  We need cloud based environment that can provide secure and HIPAA compliant solutions.

But, how do you achieve HIPAA compliance with cloud?

HIPAA

Image Source: Mednautix

Follow below steps to better understand how to ensure HIPAA compliance and reduce your risk of a breach.

1.      Create a Privacy Policy

Create a comprehensive privacy policy and make sure your employees are aware of it.

2.      Conduct trainings

Having a privacy policy in place wouldn’t be enough. You would require to make sure that they are implemented as well. For that employees must be given all required trainings during the on-boarding process. You should also require this training for all third-party vendors. Develop online refresher courses in HIPAA security protocols and make it mandatory for all employees and vendors to go through such courses at regular intervals.

3.      Quality Assurance Procedure

Make sure all the quality assurance standards are met and are HIPAA compliant. Conduct surprise drills to find out loopholes, if any.

4.      Regular audits

Perform regular risk assessment programs to check the probability of HIPAA protocol breach and evaluate potential damage in terms of legal, financial and reputational effects on your business. Document the results of your internal audits and changes that need to be made to your policies and procedures. Based on your internal audit results, review audit procedure and update with necessary changes.

5.      Breach Notification SOP

Create a standard operating procedure (SOP) document mentioning details about what steps should be taken in order to avoid a protocol breach. Mention steps to be followed in case a patient data breach occurs.

Most often you would have a cloud service provider who will take care of your wide range of requirements ranging from finding resources, developing apps & hosting them to maintenance of cloud based infrastructure. While the primary responsibility of HIPAA compliance falls on healthcare company, compliance requirements can extend to the cloud service provider as “business associates”.

Are your cloud service providers HIPAA business associates?

Figuring out if your cloud service provider can be considered as HIPAA business associate can be tough. The decision may vary depending on the type of cloud usage. Considering that the cloud provider agency is an active participant, it must also adhere to security requirements, such as including encryption, integrity controls, transmission protections, monitoring, management, employee screening and physical security.

Investing in HIPAA compliance procedures can save you from many hassles. Follow these steps and minimize your risk of being found noncompliant.

Ransomware on the Rise: What You Can Do To Protect Your Organisation From The Attack

Ransomware is malicious software used by the cyber criminals to hold your computer files or data and demand for a payment from you to release the data back. This is the popular method used by malware authors to extract money from organisations or individuals. Different ransomware varieties are used to get on to a person’s computer, but the most common technique is to install a software or use social engineering tactics, like displaying fake messages from law enforcement department, to attack on a victims computer. The criminals do not restore the computer access until the ransom is paid.

Ransomware is very scary as the files once damaged are almost beyond repair. But you can overcome this attack if you have prepared your system. Here are a few measures that will help you to protect your organisation from the attack.

Data Backup

To defeat ransomware, it is important to regularly backup your data. Once you get attacked, you will lose all your documents; but if you could clean your machine, restore your system and other lost documents from backup then you need not worry. So backup the files to an external hard drive or backup service, then you should can turn off your computer and start over with a new setup after attack.

Use Reputable Security Precaution

Using both antivirus software and a firewall will prevent you. It is critical to keep the software up-to-date and maintain a strong firewall, otherwise the hacker might easily exploit through security holes. Also purchase antivirus software from a reputable company because there are many fake software.

Ransomware Awareness Training

It is important to be aware of the cyber security issues and get properly trained to identify the phishing attempts. Creating awareness to staffs will help them to take action and deal with the ransomware. As the methods used by hackers constantly change it is necessary to keep your users up-to-date. Also, it is tough for untrained users to question the origin of a well-crafted phishing email. So, providing security training to staffs is the best way to prevent malware infection through social engineering.

Disconnect from Internet

If you are suspicious about a file or receive a ransomware note then immediately stop communicating with server. By disconnecting from the internet you might lessen the damage, as it takes some time to encrypt all your files. This isn’t foolproof but disconnecting from internet is better than nothing. As you can always re-install software if you have backed up your data.

Check File Extensions

Always see the full file extension, it helps to easily spot suspicious files. If possible try to filter the files in your mail by extension, like you can deny mails sent with ‘.EXE’ files. In case you exchange .EXE files in your organisation then it is better to use ZIP files with password-protection.

Exercise Caution, Warn Authorities, Never Pay

Avoid any links inside emails and suspicious websites. It is better to use another computer to research details if your PC falls under attack. Also, inform the local FBI or cybercrime about the attack. Finally, never pay them as it would be a mistake because they may continue to further demand from you and will not release your information as well. So, taking precautions to protect your data and being alert are the best ways to prevent ransomware attack.

In reality, dealing with ransomware requires an effective backup plan so you could protect your organisation from the attack.

How Cloud Computing Can Address Healthcare Industry Challenges

Healthcare & Cloud Computing

The sustainability and welfare of mankind depends on the healthcare industry. Whereas the technologies aren’t utilized enough in the healthcare industry thus restricts the healthcare sector in the operational competence. There are still healthcare sectors which depend on paper records. As well as there are healthcare sectors that has digitized their information. The use of technology will help to coordinate care and ease between patients and physicians, in the midst of the medical community.

Cloud computing is adopted globally to reform and modernize the healthcare sector. The healthcare industry is shifted into a model which helps to collectively support and coordinate the workflows and medical information. Cloud computing helps healthcare industry in storing large data, facilitates sharing of information among physicians and hospitals and increases the data analysis or tracking features. This helps with the treatments, performance of physicians or students, costs and studies.

Overcome Challenges in Healthcare Industry through Cloud Computing

In the healthcare industry, the utmost importance should be given to the following: security, confidentiality, availability of data to users, long-term preservation, data traceability and data reversibility. Some challenges faced by the healthcare industry in IT systems are with respect to exchange, maintenance or making use of huge information. Hence, while moving healthcare information into cloud computing, a careful thought should be given to the type of application i.e., clinical and nonclinical application the organization wants to go with.

So, while moving the application into cloud deployment model, details, such as security, privacy and application requirements should be considered while setting up the healthcare digitally is required. The cloud services can be public, private or hybrid. For a clinical application, the cloud deployment will take place in private or hybrid cloud as they require the highest level of precautions. The nonclinical application will fit under public cloud deployment model. 

Cloud computing is emerging as a vital technology in healthcare industry but still they are underutilized. The persons involved in the healthcare, like medical practitioners, hospitals, research facilities, etc., could consider different cloud service models that could address their business needs. The service models includes Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Among the three service models, SaaS, a pay-per-use business model is the most attractive option economically. Especially for the small hospitals or physicians as SaaS doesn’t need full-time IT personnel as well reduces the capital expenses needed for hardware, software or operating system.

PaaS, is a perfect option for large-scale healthcare institutions who have the resources to develop the cloud solutions further. IaaS will be feasible for healthcare industry that could seek more scalable infrastructure. As IaaS is cost-effective as well provides scalability with security, flexibility, data protection and back-ups.

Thus, cloud computing could be a permanent solution or game-changer for a healthcare industry; with respect to its service offerings, operating models, capabilities and end-user services. With cloud computing, the challenges faced in the healthcare industry with respect to managing the medical information, storing data, retrieving data or accessing could be eliminated. Meanwhile the healthcare industry can overtake other industries in use of technology with adoption of cloud services. Thus, accessing or monitoring the healthcare related information across the globe would be easier with implementation of cloud services.

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