Healthcare

Protect PHI, Comply with Regulations, Get Audit-Ready

The Regulatory Burden

The healthcare sector is under enormous pressure to cut costs and streamline operations. Government agencies and private insurers want to reduce their expenditures on medical expenses. They also want “outcome-based care,” where medical firms are paid for the quality of care they dispense, not the quantity of it.

Cloud-based IT can serve both goals. Healthcare providers can abandon paper-based records in favor of online records management. Those records, in turn, can be securely available.

That means medical professionals themselves can be more mobile, giving healthcare providers more flexibility in delivering care. Telemedicine can bring far-away expertise to wherever the patient is. Billing and insurance claims can be managed online, accelerating payment cycles.

However, telemedicine brings with it, an entirely new set of concerns and compliance obligations including the privacy expectations healthcare providers are already facing. To ease their burden, and ensure they’ve implemented a comprehensive compliance and risk management program, healthcare organizations need an automated compliance solution.

doctor's hand holding a stethoscope

A Framework for Information Security Success

The federal HIPAA law has required any business dealing with “private health information” (PHI) to protect it. PHI is defined broadly: any information about a person’s health status, the care he or she receives and payment for health services. That includes “customer accounts” for patients, where the healthcare provider manages user IDs, passwords and possibly location data.

Beyond HIPAA, firms working with PHI also have breach disclosure laws to obey at the state level, should patient records ever be exposed.

The problem? Achieving HIPAA compliance isn’t easy. There are over 100 pages with detailed requirements and rules that your business must not only comply with but carefully document as well.

Manage Compliance and Risk with Confidence and Ease

Healthcare data is the most sensitive, highly regulated data in business today. The Reciprocity® ZenGRC® platform helps healthcare providers protect private health information (PHI) to comply with industry regulations such as HIPAA.

ZenGRC can help you to perform self-audits for HIPAA while providing intuitive dashboards to showcase the gaps in your compliance. Furthermore, ZenGRC keeps track of your compliance efforts by acting as a repository for all your compliance documentation.

This means you’re audit-ready and can easily pull the necessary, organized documentation during audits.

Plus, you’re prepared for the future as ZenGRC can auto-update itself with the latest changes in HIPAA regulations to ensure your organization always remains compliant.

silhouette outline of a human head with glowing brain

Compliance Objectives

Firms handling medical data must ensure compliance with privacy and security rules from the moment a piece of PHI is created.

HIPAA itself only tells firms the compliance objectives they must achieve, not how to achieve them. HITRUST, a consortium of healthcare businesses, has worked to map HIPAA requirements to the Common Security Framework, a standardized assessment and certification program.

HITRUST can also be mapped to other frameworks such as NIST, PCI, or COSO but managing all these frameworks and mapping your controls is extremely time-consuming when you’re using manual methods and spreadsheets.

With ZenGRC, you can get universal control mapping and expert guidance to meet unique compliance objectives across a variety of frameworks. With ZenGRC, you’ll be empowered to:

  • Assess vulnerabilities to PHI within your network, applications and Information systems
  • Identify non-compliant data privacy behaviors like failure to encrypt data before sending it to the cloud
  • Remediate weaknesses, either through security patches to software or through changes to data collection practices
  • Map progress on those remediation efforts to controls across HIPAA, HITRUST, NIST, PCI or COSO
  • Be able to report those risk assessments and remediations to other parties as necessary
  • Integrate updated regulations into your compliance program as they arise

Driving Greater Information Security in Digital Healthcare

Omada Health is one of the largest digital healthcare practitioners globally, serving some 1,200 businesses and over 400,000 individuals since its inception in 2011.

However, they were struggling to manage their risks. Omada Health’s risk and compliance managers were using spreadsheets to track controls and compliance activities and those of its more than 250 vendors.

On top of that, they didn’t have a single repository from which they could see gaps across frameworks, nor did they have a standard way of doing a risk assessment. The process was confusing, time-consuming, frustrating, and ineffective.

Read on to find out how ZenGRC helped Omada Health complete its first comprehensive risk assessment, correct deficiencies, and fill gaps to become compliant with a number of critical security frameworks, including HITRUST and SOC 2.

ZenGRC Omada case study

See why information security is top-of-mind for healthcare providers

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ZenGRC for Compliance

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Mitigate the information security risks you expect – as well as the ones you can’t see coming.

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Frequently Asked Questions

To protect your IT systems and data from unauthorized access or theft, you must first understand what gaps, if any, exist in your security protocols as well as the unique risks facing your organization.

Then, once your risks are identified and assessed, you can leverage insights for better decision-making for risk reduction strategies, including which controls to implement or improve data privacy.

But that’s just a start. From there, your compliance or cybersecurity program will need to be maintained, monitored and reviewed routinely to ensure that internal controls are still adequate to reduce risk and achieve compliance.

A governance, risk and compliance management solution like ZenGRC can provide several options to help you identify, meet and maintain your risk posture, including vulnerability importance and status.

ZenGRC ensures you always know where you stand and what action needs to be taken to address vulnerabilities and improve your risk, compliance and security posture.

According to HIPAA, all covered entities and their business associates must demonstrate compliance.

Covered entities include healthcare providers, health plans and healthcare clearinghouses. Business associates are any entity or person that discloses protected health information (PHI) or provides services to a covered entity.

These entities must demonstrate that they are adherent to the current national standards set and have implemented appropriate access controls to preserve data security and privacy.

To assure HIPAA compliance, breach risk assessments must include four factors to determine whether unsecured PHI follows the HIPAA privacy rule. These are:

  1. What kind of PHI was involved and what is the extent of its use?
  2. Who was the unauthorized organization or person?
  3. Did the organization or person procure or see the PHI?
  4. How has the risk been mitigated?

According to HHS.GOV, the most common violations leading to a HIPAA investigation are:

  • Impermissible use and sharing of unsecured PHI
  • Lack of cybersecurity and encryption applied to protect the information
  • Lack of or denying patients access to PHI
  • Lack of security systems put in place to protect electronically protected health information
  • Disclosure of too much PHI (see above about substance abuse treatment)