The increasing activity of patients, doctors, and insurance agencies online increases the risk of exposure of sensitive patient information.
From a healthcare perspective, one of the greatest benefits of the internet is probably the patients’ increase in access to health services. Today, patients can keep their physicians up to date on their conditions, request treatments, make appointments, have virtual office visits, and even have some surgical procedures performed at local facilities which are under the control and/or guidance of remotely located specialists.
These benefits are not without hazard, however. The increasing activity of patients, doctors, and insurance agencies online means an increase in the risk of exposure of sensitive patient information. Maintaining patient information privacy and security across multiple providers poses a significant challenge as we enter 2020, especially as the healthcare industry works with software development services to implement and update their tools.
One of the ways to most efficiently meet this challenge is to consider IT staff augmentation. Partnering with an outsourcing company with the proper expertise can not only save you time and money on healthcare software development but also ensure that your program(s) are well-prepared to deal with security threats.
What is HIPAA 2020?
Cybersecurity is a major concern for any organization that compiles and maintains a database of client or customer personal information. Healthcare providers need to maintain and share access to sensitive and private patient information in order to offer services. This information must be protected against hackers, bugs, and other cyber threats, while patient privacy rights are upheld.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is the standard that directly addresses these issues, and it is updated yearly to accommodate new technological innovations in the industry. In order to implement the rules and spirit of the standard effectively, it is helpful to have an understanding of what the standard is and its objectives.
A significant benefit of HIPAA for workers who are changing jobs or find themselves unemployed is the provision for coverage during the transition, which may be switching to an individual plan with your previous employer or buying into a government-sponsored plan. In conjunction with these changes are the requirements for protected health information (PHI) security and confidentiality, which is a target for hackers and other malicious agents due to the wealth of sensitive personal information.
What’s Required for HIPAA 2020 Compliant Healthcare Software Development Services?
The range of entities that must comply with HIPAA is wide and includes:
- Healthcare service providers such as hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, doctors, psychologists, dentists, and chiropractors
- Health plans including health insurance providers, HMOs, and government services that pay for Medicare, Medicaid, and VHA services
- Self-insured companies and healthcare clearinghouses
Business associates (BAs), which are external entities that perform functions that involve accessing or disclosing PHI of a HIPAA entity, are also required to comply with HIPAA. This requirement may extend to subcontractors of business associates.
For more information on who must comply with HIPAA, see CFR 160.103.
Cybersecurity: The Foundation of Complying with HIPAA 2020
As in other industries where sensitive data about customers is accumulated and maintained, health care service providers are increasingly under attack by hackers and identity theft is an escalating issue. To respond to this type of threat, more vigilance and better cybersecurity measures are required.
More often than not, the baseline protective measures are included in the software. For example, access security procedures and encryption are standard measures to guard against unauthorized breaches to programs and data warehousing tools like RDBs. Of course, PHI is most vulnerable during transmission between computers over networks that are remotely located. This is included during operation and software delivery. Your software development services provider can anticipate problems and ensure protection.
In addition to exposing your patients to potential harm, there are significant penalties for failing to adhere to HIPAA 2020, which have increased somewhat from the previous year. Therefore, it is incumbent upon you to institute guidelines to ensure that your PHI is secure and your software development services are compliant with HIPAA 2020.
Ensuring Your Healthcare Software Development Services Comply with HIPAA 2020
- Enter into or update business associate agreements with all software providers.
- Ensure your software provider or BA (and any of their sub-contractors or vendors) perform the required annual audits, which are:
- Security Risk Assessment
- Security Standards Audit
- HiTECH Subtitle D Audit
- Asset and Device Audit
- Physical Site Audit
- Periodically review HIPAA requirements for changes and implement promptly. Your BAs should also follow this guideline.
- Make sure that any additional software development service providers are familiar with and are able to adhere to the requirements for HIPAA compliance.
As an aid to ensuring that you are in compliance with HIPAA 2020, it may be helpful to follow a checklist, such as the one available from the Compliancy Group.
Whether you need a full dedicated team or staff augmentation for your healthcare software development services, BairesDev offers the best solution for nearshore outsourcing. With us, you will have the Top 1% IT Talent in Latin America at your disposal. To learn more, contact our team.