Healthcare organizations occupy a unique position in the world. They provide one of the most tangible benefits to society, yet are subject to the most rigorous business and regulatory compliance requirements. It’s therefore crucial for healthcare offices to have the right tools to operate. Things like secure networks, a reliable document management system, and efficient technology are not optional. There are many robust and powerful document management solutions available on the market, but they’re not all created equal. Healthcare organizations, and those that handle healthcare data, must remain diligent as to whether their chosen solution satisfies HIPAA’s requirements. Read on to learn about how the safeguards established by HIPAA affect which solutions a company may use, and who must choose a HIPAA compliant document management system.
What Is HIPAA? What Companies Are Subject to HIPAA Requirements?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, better known as HIPAA, is a law that governs the use, storage, and transmission of health information where individuals are identifiable. It stipulates that such information, known as PHI, must be handled a certain way. In particular, companies must adhere to a set of physical, administrative, and technical safeguards to ensure that data remains safe.
While HIPAA is most commonly associated with healthcare offices and organizations, federal law indicates that any company that handles PHI must comply with HIPAA requirements:
- Billing companies and clearinghouses
- Outsourced customer service specialists
- Shredding companies
- Managed service providers
HIPAA Compliant Document Management System Features
Many offices use a document management system to keep their documents organized and improve operational security. However, HIPAA-compliant document management solutions take security a step further. Among the features of a compliant system include:
Most document management solutions require some form of authentication, such as a password. In contrast, a HIPAA compliant software leverages advanced user authentication. This may include multi-factor authentication, which forces a user to validate him or herself through multiple ways to prove identity. Such a strategy satisfies both the physical and technical safeguard requirements of HIPAA.
Encryption ensures that the stored or transmitted information cannot be easily read by people eavesdropping on the network or snooping where they shouldn’t be. It’s incredibly important to ensure that all data remains encrypted. Unencrypted hardware and software continue to represent one of the most significant sources of HIPAA violations for companies.
Access control takes many forms, both in terms of physical and technological access. A solid document management system deploys advanced access control strategies to ensure needs-based access. This grants users permission to access, edit, or transmit only the documents that they require to fulfill their jobs. In other words, only the correct users access the right files, only in specific parts of the system they have access to.
The healthcare industry remains among the top targets for cybercriminals, with PHI representing one of the most valuable forms of data on the black market. Keeping this data secure is therefore of paramount importance for any company that handles it. To assist with these efforts, many HIPAA-compliant document management systems now include advanced security features specifically aimed at protecting this sensitive information.
When it comes to maintaining HIPAA compliance, transparency, and oversight are critical. Audit trails help companies pinpoint errors, negligent behavior, or noncompliant activities before they can create a problem or result in a breach. A sound document management system will include features like change logs, version controls, document histories, login records, or instances of unusual behavior in the files or on the server. Combined with proper access control, these trails ensure that a system remains secure both from the inside and the outside.
Backup and Disaster Recovery
Healthcare relies on the ability of professionals to access patient records quickly and reliably – if this information becomes inaccessible, it can hamstring operations and the ability of doctors to deliver care. Therefore, the best document management solutions for healthcare professionals include regular, automated, robust backup, and disaster recovery features. These features ensure that PHI is never lost or inaccessible, minimizing the chance of downtime occurring at a critical moment.
Mac Copy Helps New York Offices Stay HIPAA Compliant
A document management system is a valuable asset for any company, but for those in the healthcare industry, special care must be taken. HIPAA requires certain safeguards to exist in any technology solution that a company brings into the office – whether it’s hardware or software. Failing to satisfy these safeguards can result in stiff fines or worse: a successful data breach. Don’t choose just any off the shelf document solution. Select technology that’s effective, secure, and meets HIPAA’s requirements.
Mac Copy helps companies in New York access the right technology and solutions for their office. Start a conversation now to discuss what HIPAA means in document management.