Health care providers need expertise in more than just medicine to operate in their work environment. They work with patients, advanced technology, document processes, and strict legal mandates to safeguard all of the sensitive data they handle – and they do so in a fast-paced, demanding, and stressful environment. As such, many healthcare organizations choose to bring on board managed services to help maintain compliance and reduce employee stress.
Managed IT solutions outsource some or all of the IT infrastructure to a third-party specialist. Taking over responsibility for this infrastructure shifts the burden of compliance onto the service provider, ensuring that all aspects of the company’s digital infrastructure remain compliant.
For health care providers, that means less time managing the network or stressing about compliance, and more time focusing on delivering the best possible care to their patients. Here’s how managed IT accomplishes it.
Managed IT and HIPAA Compliance
The primary compliance regulations to which healthcare organizations – and anyone who handles protected health information (PHI) – must adhere is known as HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It contains three primary rules: the Privacy Rule, the Security Rule, and the Breach Notification Rule. Managed IT services help healthcare organizations satisfy the requirements of each of these rules through:
1. Compliant Infrastructure Solutions
The Security Rule establishes the standards for protecting PHI and electronic PHI (ePHI). It’s the primary rule in effect for data management solutions, such as how information is created, moved, stored, and transmitted to patients or other professionals. A managed service provider helps health care providers develop compliant infrastructure solutions by ensuring that the specific hardware or software solutions are certified HIPAA compliant. Additionally, a provider may assist with:
● Enhanced access control policies regarding who can and cannot access data or certain parts of the server
● Development of logs and records showing who touches what data, when, and why
● Secure internal communications channels to improve information flow without increasing risk
● Segmented networks to keep the public from accessing the same parts of the server as employees
2. Compliant Cloud Services
The cloud is a fantastic thing. It has brought the ability to deliver more robust capabilities to businesses without the bulk of costly infrastructure. However, for healthcare organizations, cloud computing is complicated. While primarily regarded as more secure than servers, cloud services are not automatically HIPAA compliant. In particular, public cloud services represent the highest chance of violating the Privacy Rule because they may be updated without notice, and ePHI would be stored alongside a mix of unknown data.
A managed IT service provider is aware of these risks and knows how to apply cloud services which are appropriate for the healthcare industry. As fines still apply for violations of ignorance, a managed IT specialist is invaluable in this area.
3. Robust Digital and Physical Security
Under the Security Rule, healthcare organizations are required to adopt a variety of safeguards in the technical, physical, and administrative areas. A managed IT service provider helps with this by ensuring that all points are met in an IT infrastructure. Some of these safeguards may include:
● Authentication mechanisms on devices or in areas housing devices
● Encryption and decryption for servers, communications, or file storage
● Activity logs for server traffic
● Hardware inventory logs, including updates, maintenance records, and users assigned to or with access to these devices
● Up-to-date cybersecurity features, including a HIPAA-compliant firewall with the correct configuration
4. Rock Solid Disaster Recovery
The Security Rule explicitly requires healthcare organizations and organizations which handle PHI to conduct risk assessments, develop contingency plans, and have in place a functional disaster recovery strategy. Managed IT services assist with this through the creation of automated backups, infrastructure redundancies, and procedures to preserve the ability to access data and care for patients during server downtime.
Blue Technologies Provides Managed IT Services to Health Care Providers
When it comes to protecting PHI, health care providers can take no chances. The fines associated with HIPAA violations are steep, while breaches will result in lawsuits, identity theft, and damaged reputations. Therefore, many healthcare organizations turn to managed service providers to help maintain compliance alongside their efficient IT infrastructure. These specialists can take over the critical parts of a network, delivering enhanced functionality and complete compliance at all times.
Blue Technologies is an experienced, managed IT service provider for healthcare organizations. Start a conversation with us today about the needs of your organization and how we can help.