It’s no secret that organizations of all sizes have taken to the cloud at breakneck speed. Eager to capitalize on the many efficiencies that cloud computing has to offer, healthcare businesses are among those leading the pack. At the same time, HIPAA-covered entities must also determine whether or not they’re prepared to reap the benefits of the cloud while also complying with increasingly strict privacy and security regulations. But what exactly is the role of HIPAA when it comes to cloud computing? How do regulations impact independent software vendors (ISVs) and their cloud-based applications? And what can be done to simplify compliance?
To answer these questions, let’s take a closer look at HIPAA, its relationship to the cloud, and a better approach to compliance.
HIPAA and its relationship to ISVs
HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a U.S. law that regulates the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI). Names, addresses, telephone numbers, and medical histories all fall under this category. HIPAA applies to “covered entities,” meaning any organization and its business associates that handle PHI. What most ISVs don’t realize is that they qualify as a HIPAA-covered entity and therefore need to comply with its three rules:
- The Privacy Rule: Regulates when PHI may be used or disclosed.
- The Security Rule: Outlines steps CSPs and other entities must follow to protect PHI.
- The Breach Notification Rule: Requires covered entities to publicly disclose an information breach.
As handlers of PHI, ISVs need to be wary of these regulations. And as more healthcare organizations store PHI in the cloud, they’ll need to take a renewed interest in cloud security. If compliance falls by the wayside, businesses are subject to hefty fines and irreparable reputational damage. The only problem? Healthcare clouds and ISVs are increasingly under attack, putting HIPAA compliance under immense stress. According to CriticalInsight, healthcare data breaches hit an all-time high in 2021, exposing the PHI of over 45 million people. For context, that’s triple the number of affected individuals just three years ago.
The role of HITRUST in HIPAA compliance
Notably, there is no certification body for HIPAA, meaning there’s no way to prove compliance other than an audit and examination. That’s where HITRUST comes into play. First introduced in 2007, the Health Information Trust Alliance created a cybersecurity standard known as HITRUST CSF. It’s designed to help organizations protect and manage information security and compliance.
In essence, it’s a more rigorous standard because it goes above and beyond HIPAA’s basic requirements. But more importantly, HITRUST CSF is a great way to officially prove HIPAA compliance. When fully implemented, a HITRUST certification ensures that HIPAA-covered entities meet compliance requirements and can safely leverage cloud services to their advantage.
The bad news is that HITRUST certification isn’t a walk in the park. But the good news? With Project Hosts, it can be.
Whether you inherit compliance from our pre-audited platform, go through the certification process alongside our team or migrate your applications onto our platform, we simplify compliance step by step.
Learn more about how Project Hosts can help you become HITRUST-compliant by contacting our team today.