HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules

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By Bill Minahan   |   August 28, 2019   |   0 Comments

HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules: Are you in compliance?

HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules are put in place to protect the privacy and security of patient health information (PHI).

The health care industry is the most at risk for cyber attacks in 2019 because of the vast amount of sensitive patient data they store. Moreover, lax security policies for many businesses make them vulnerable targets for cyber criminals.

HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules

The fines for HIPAA violations are hefty: the federal fines can reach up to $1.5 million per year. Not to mention the reputational damage that occurs after a HIPAA data breach and the civil lawsuits that inevitably follow.

However, it’s extremely feasible to avoid the worst of it by complying with the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules.

HIPAA Privacy Rule

The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects patient privacy and information. However, as more health care organizations become digital, the more risks they face. The  PHI that relates to the following information is protected:

1. Health care provisions to the patient.

2. The patient’s past, present, or future physical or mental health and conditions.

3. The patient’s past, present, or future payment towards health care.

PHI includes identifying data like names, addresses, birthdays, and Social Security numbers.

Medicare businesses have a legal obligation to secure the above information. Despite this, many organizations have compromised PHI as a result of data breaches. However, the HIPAA Security Rule helps mitigate the risk of a data breach and ensure patient privacy.

HIPAA Security Rule

The HIPAA Security Rule requires health care companies to take certain preventive measures to protect PHI. It requires businesses to develop and maintain security policies that protect the PHI they create, receive, maintain, or transmit. In short, each company must asses their risks to online PHI in its environment and formulate a plan around it.


Specifically, companies that adhere to HIPAA must:

1. Ensure that all ePHI they create, receive, maintain, or transmit, is kept confidential, available, and unaltered.

2. Identify and protect against threats that jeopardize the security or integrity of ePHI.

3. Protect against anticipated, impermissible, uses or disclosures of ePHI.

4. Ensure the workforce is HIPAA compliant.

When companies are considering how to develop and implement safety measures that comply with HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules, they should consider the nature of their company. Likewise, the security measures should match with the potential risk. If your company doesn’t have the resources to assess your risks and develop security policies, then it should partner with a security provider for an assessment.

Finally, there are specific security measures you can take to avoid PHI data breaches.

How to Prevent a HIPAA Breach

Health care data breaches happen with shocking regularity. The sensitive information health care organizations store is valuable to cyber criminals. As a result, health care organizations need to take precautions. A single data breach can cost you your practice.

However, there are affordable ways to mitigate the risks of HIPAA data breaches.

Specifically, HHS recommends the following ten practices to comply with HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules:

1. Email protection systems

2. Endpoint protection systems

3. Access management

4. Data protection and loss prevention

5. Asset management

6. Network management

7. Vulnerability management

8. Incident response

9. Medical device security

10. Cyber security policies

If you implement these security practices, then you’ll be better able to protect your ePHI and comply with HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules. Furthermore, if you comply with HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules, then you’re more likely to avoid hefty fines and reputational damage.

In short, it’s possible to protect yourself from PHI data breaches by complying with the HIPAA Security and Privacy Rules– as long as your entire workforce is on board and your risks are assessed and handled.

Finally, if you need a security assessment and want to start analyzing your risks—take our free assessment below.

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