Sep 26, 2023
HIPAA Security Risk Assessment
The HIPAA Security Rule: Regular Checkups and the Benefits of an Independent Review
Healthcare organizations today face a growing number of challenges when it comes to protecting their patients’ sensitive health information. To help create consistent standards around the protection of this data, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted in 1996. HIPAA established national standards for the privacy, security, and confidentiality of protected health information (PHI). HIPAA applies to all healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses that transmit or store PHI electronically. It also applies to their business associates, such as IT vendors, billing companies, and consultants.
The Cost of Non-Compliance
HIPAA violations and breaches can have serious consequences, including financial penalties, legal liabilities, reputational damage, and loss of trust from patients and partners. And for companies doing business with healthcare organizations, it can mean devastating loss in client contracts.
According to the HIPAA Journal, the average cost of a data breach for a healthcare organization is $9.23 million. In addition to the direct costs of remediation and notification, healthcare organizations may also face indirect costs such as lost productivity, decreased revenue, and increased insurance premiums.
Regular Assessments and the HIPAA Security Rule
Conducting a HIPAA risk assessment is a critical step that healthcare organizations can take to mitigate risks and protect their e-PHI.
A proper HIPAA risk assessment is a systematic process of identifying, analyzing, and evaluating the potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of e-PHI. It helps organizations understand their security posture and identify areas where they need to improve their safeguards. In addition to the practical benefits, regular assessments help organizations comply with the HIPAA Security Rule requirements for risk analysis and management.
The HIPAA Security Rule defines a risk assessment as “an accurate and thorough assessment of the potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information held by the covered entity or business associate”. The Security Rule requires that healthcare organizations implement reasonable and appropriate administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to protect e-PHI against anticipated threats or hazards. A risk assessment helps organizations identify these threats or hazards and determine which safeguards are reasonable and appropriate for their specific circumstances.
Getting the Most from a HIPAA Risk Assessment
When it comes to executing a HIPAA risk assessment there are several key benefits to having an independent third party such as Tevora perform this service:
- Expertise: Look for a partner that specializes in HIPAA compliance and security. This kind of specialization – which Tevora brings to the table – can bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, and best practices to the risk assessment process. Tevora can help healthcare organizations identify risks and vulnerabilities that they may not have considered before and recommend appropriate safeguards to mitigate them.
In fact, Tevora is a HITRUST certified assessor. Learn more about the benefits of a thorough HITRUST assessment here.[KG1]
- Objectivity: A third party can provide an independent and unbiased assessment of the healthcare organization’s security posture. Tevora evaluates the organization’s policies, procedures, systems, and controls objectively and identify any gaps or deficiencies that need to be addressed. This can help the organization avoid conflicts of interest or internal politics that may affect the accuracy or completeness of the risk assessment.
- Efficiency: Outside experts are often equipped to perform assessments more efficiently than an internal team or individual. We have the tools, templates, and methodologies to streamline the process and ensure consistency and quality across different departments and functions. We also provide ongoing support and guidance to help the organization maintain its security posture over time.
- Compliance: Thorough and regular assessments help healthcare organizations comply with the HIPAA Security Rule requirements for risk analysis and management. Tevora can ensure that the risk assessment is accurate, thorough, and documented properly. This can also provide evidence of due diligence in case of an audit or investigation by the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
We Can Help
If you have questions about HIPAA, the HIPAA Security Rule, or would like help aligning your organization with the requirements of these standards, just give us a call at (833) 292-1609 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.