Why Is HIPAA Compliance Important To Businesses?

Although the Wannacry data threat’s prime passed a long time ago, health organizations are still falling prey to this threat. In fact, about 40% of health organization had gone through a Wannacry attack in the first quarter of 2019. Well, the threat just happens to be only but a tip of the iceberg when it comes to the data threats that health organizations have to deal with on a daily basis.

These are the types of threats that regulations such as the HIPAA try to stop businesses from going through. In comparison to the cost of HIPAA compliance, non-compliance can have repercussions that are even more expensive. If you are wondering why you should value HIPAA compliance, you have come to the right place.

Here is why compliance should be mandatory for your business:

It Provides A Data Security Blueprint

Without the HIPAA, small and medium-sized health organizations might have to try and secure their business blindly, with the risk of focusing resources on the wrong IT assets or using minimal resources to protect data. HIPAA looks to provide a standard for security measures that health-related businesses should apply. Ideally, you need to apply three types of safeguards for data security:

  • Technical Safeguards: These are tools that are meant to protect ePHI (electronic Protected Health Data) while on devices or on the cloud. It can involve investing in firewalls, log monitoring tools, and even antivirus software.
  • Physical Safeguards: These are measures that you have in place to protect the physical access of data. This can be data stored in file cabinets or even in an in-house server. You can use padlocks, biometric protection, or even passwords to protect such data.
  • Administrative Safeguards: These are measures related to your policies of running the business as well as working with vendors that help keep the business secure. The policies can outline access control procedures, the security requirements vendors need to meet, and how employees should carry themselves out for the security of PHI (Protected Health Information).

While these guidelines are meant to uplift your business’ data security posture, it doesn’t necessarily result in complete security. Your business will need to focus on other areas of your security landscape to ensure your business’ security remains airtight. However, you can rest assured that you have strong security measures in place as long as you are compliant.

It Reduces The Security Risks Of Working With Vendors

Doctors, and insurance agencies, among other organizations that handle patient data from a primary standpoint, are considered as covered entities under the HIPAA. However, vendors that have to process health data to work with your business are considered business associates. These can be lawyers, accountants, and even cloud vendors.

The fact that they too have access to your data gives hackers another vector from which they can attack your business. Remember, the data security posture of your business is only as strong as your weakest point. Under the regulation, business associates also need to be compliant with HIPAA guidelines to work with your business. Otherwise, they can lead to you being non-compliant. This reduces the risks you involve your business in by outsourcing some of its operations. Also, the fact that your business is compliant makes it attractive to other health organizations that might want to partner or work with it.

Non-Compliance Is Quite Expensive

You risk being fined for non-compliance. In fact, the cap for non-compliance fines has increased from $25,000/year to $1,500,000/year for each violation. Violations can be anything from security breaches to the negligence of security duties as well as a failure to notify the regulatory bodies about successful breaches.

However, fines are only but the start of the costs that come with non-compliance. If you don’t get hacked from non-compliance, you are lucky. For companies that get breached, they may have to settle lawsuits that may be filed against them. It might also be quite tough and costly to handle the PR nightmare that comes with non-compliance. Lastly, it can be pretty easy to lose security-conscious customers, or and even harder to attract such customers in the future.

Earning The Trust Of Customers And Investors

Both customers and investors have some form of interest in your data security posture. Customers or patients want to ensure that their data never falls into the wrong hands. 85% of customers will shy away from interacting with a business whose data security posture they don’t trust.

In the case of investors, they would like some assurance that their investments are in the right hands. By showcasing that you are indeed compliant, you give such stakeholders some confidence in your business. Not only does this give you a competitive advantage, but it also ensures that you can keep serving these stakeholders for longer, with limited security bottlenecks.

The security of PHI isn’t something to be taken lightly. If the health data ends up in the wrong hands, it can wreak havoc in the lives of the victims as well as your business. Focus on HIPAA compliance to make your business sustainable.

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