The Regulatory Burden

The healthcare industry plays a critical role in society and the U.S. government considers healthcare to be critical infrastructure. The highly personal and private nature of our health information means these companies hold our most sensitive information.

Unfortunately, healthcare companies continue to be among the most frequent targets of cyberattacks. Gaining access to valuable personal information is extremely attractive to hackers and cybercriminals. For over twelve years, the average cost of breaches in the healthcare industry has topped all other industries.

And while huge, global healthcare companies might seem like the best targets for these attacks, the reality is that companies of every size have information worth stealing. In fact, small- and mid-sized hospitals are the healthcare sector with the highest risk of experiencing a cyberattack.

The adoption of digital technologies such as the electronic health record, stored in the cloud, has made it much easier for doctors, healthcare workers to see a complete view of patients’ health history to improve the quality of care.

This also means medical professionals themselves can be more mobile, giving healthcare providers more flexibility in delivering care. Increased adoption of telemedicine means that far-away expertise can be brought to wherever the patient is. Even bBilling and insurance claims can be managed online, accelerating payment cycles.

However, these digital technologies bring an entirely new set of security 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 a unified risk, cybersecurity and compliance solution.

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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.

Adding to this are new cybersecurity performance goals (CPGs) established in response to the 2021 National Security Memorandum on Improving Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure Control Systems. These goals are intended to help establish a common set of fundamental cybersecurity practices for critical infrastructure, and especially help small- and medium-sized organizations kickstart their cybersecurity efforts.

Manage Compliance and Risk with Confidence and Ease

Healthcare data is the most sensitive, highly regulated data in business today. Our solutions help healthcare providers protect private health information (PHI) to comply with industry regulations such as HIPAA and meet current and emerging cybersecurity goals.

ZenGRC provides a unified, real time view of risk and compliance framed around the aspects of your healthcare organization that are vital to protect and secure.

With compliance and security frameworks built-in and maintained by experts, and the ability to reuse controls and evidence across compliance frameworks such as HIPAA and cybersecurity standards such as NIST CSF, complexity is reduced and risk blind spots are eliminated.

With suggested risk and threat scores and real-time connections between automated control assessments and risk scoring, you get a unified, real-time view of risk and compliance and significant efficiency gains so that you can stay ahead of threats, reduce risk and strengthen compliance.

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.

With ZenGRC, we take the burden off you by providing a rich, expert-built library of over 25 regulatory, statutory and contractual frameworks and standards, maintained by our experts. This enables you to adopt best practices and standardize risk and compliance across your organization.

Curated by experts and aligned with the Secure Control Framework (SCF) and NIST, the library provides cross-mappings of controls from the SCF, NIST CSF and CIS to a multitude of global frameworks. Continuous, automated control testing eliminates audit fatigue, eliminates hours of manual work preparing for audits, and helps ensure you are always compliant.

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, NIST, PCI and others
  • Be able to report those risk assessments and remediations to other parties as necessary
  • Integrate updated regulations into your compliance program as they arise

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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 the RiskOptics ROAR Platform helps you identify, meet and maintain your risk posture, including threat and vulnerability importance and status.

ROAR ensures you always know where you stand and what action needs to be taken to 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 ensure 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)