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HIPAA and Cloud Compliance in Healthcare

You can use cloud services and remain HIPAA compliant; you just need to do your homework first.

Cloud-based document management solutions can make you a better care provider, as long as you do your homework.

As a healthcare office manager, you have distinct goals, not the least of which is to make sure that staff can access medical records at a moment's notice, as this can sometimes make the difference between life and death. To address this, you might feel that the cloud is the tool to use.

However, you also have to protect patients' medical information. The cloud has experienced several newsworthy failures to protect personal information lately, and you don't want your patients' records to be newsworthy, too. Considering your need to protect patient privacy and comply with HIPAA regulations, you might even want to avoid using the cloud altogether because it's too big a risk.

Staying HIPAA-Compliant in the Cloud

You may think having an HIPAA-compliant cloud is impossible since the vendor exclusively controls where the data is stored. You might also believe that to be HIPAA compliant, you need to have exclusive control over everything.

But, these things are just not true. A cloud vendor is only focused on digital security, while you have the additional concerns of running your day-to-day business. As a result, it is typically easier for a tech specialist to provide effective HIPPA-compliant digital security than you could on your own.

Choose the Right, HIPPA-Compliant Cloud Vendor

Most cloud vendors claim to be HIPAA compliant, and you can't take any at their word. Insist that the vendor you consider pass an independent HIPAA audit and explain how it protects personal health information. Additionally, be sure to negotiate a business associate agreement to protect yourself and ensure the vendor continues to comply with HIPPA regulations.

Also, make sure that a vendor's document management solutions support encrypted data. This minimizes the risk of sensitive information being accessed by unauthorized individuals. Ask as many questions as you need so that you can be 100% confident that your patients' information is secure. Without due diligence, you could face fines that permanently close your medical office.

Know Your Role and Everyone Else's

If you are going to work with a third-party cloud vendor, you need to establish each party's responsibility from the beginning. The vendor will be responsible for all upgrades, maintenance, and security of the cloud-based equipment. You will be responsible for connecting to the cloud from your office. You still have to take steps to protect all of your office computers, smartphones, and tablets to prevent a breach. If a hacker is able to breach your patient information through one of your office devices, that is your responsibility, and you will have to pay the price.

Cloud-based document management solutions can make you a better care provider, as long as you do your homework. Pick a vendor that can shield you from HIPAA fines while protecting your patients' trust.

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Topics: Healthcare Solutions Document Management