In 2021, over 40 million patient records were compromised in the US.
The unexpected twist is that healthcare organizations aren't the sole culprits of client exposure. Numerous companies that handle protected health information (PHI) can face substantial fines due to unawareness of HIPAA practices.
One of the biggest data vulnerabilities? Forms. An organization's data collection process is a key element in protecting sensitive information.
Don’t get left outside the compliance circle of trust. Here are some terms and features to be aware of when working with digital healthcare forms and data.
Features that Help Make a Form HIPAA-Friendly
HIPAA has three main rules to ensure patient and data protection:
- Privacy rule: Describes safeguarding health information and documentation.
- Breach notification rule: Outlines reporting procedures for security breaches to authorities and patients.
- Security rule: Sets standards for securely storing and transmitting electronic patient health information (ePHI).
There are several form and workflow features that help you meet these rules with automated ease.
Electronic data and mobile devices have left organizations vulnerable to HIPAA non-compliance. In November 2019, an unencrypted laptop and flash drive were taken from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). Due to possible violations of HIPAA security standards, URMC paid $3 million to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) as part of a settlement.
Data encryption makes it more difficult for cybercriminals to view stolen data. It conceals personally identifiable information (PII) and PHI, including text and images, and renders it unreadable outside authorized users. This involves using an encryption algorithm and a key known solely to authorized parties. Authorized individuals can then securely store, transmit, and access encrypted data, ensuring data integrity by detecting unauthorized alterations. This safeguards against breaches and upholds patient privacy. Data encryption also ensures ePHI confidentiality and security, guards against security threats, and reasonably anticipates future risks to the data.
Single Sign-On (SSO)
Strong passwords are vital for data security, but many organizations face challenges in enhancing this aspect of protection. Unfortunately, employees often choose easy-to-crack passwords across various accounts. In fact, 23 million accounts use the password 123456.
It gets worse.
Globally, studies show that 85% of companies allow employees to access work-related sensitive information on their personal devices. And a whopping 81% of company data breaches result from poor passwords.
Single sign-on (SSO) is a user authentication service that enables users to have a single set of login credentials for multiple applications. SSO streamlines access across various applications and reduces the necessity for users to memorize and manage multiple usernames and passwords.
HIPAA and Business Associate Agreements (BAA)
In compliance, a business associate is an individual or organization that performs tasks for a covered entity, namely healthcare providers. Examples include software providers, cloud platforms, document storage companies, medical billing companies, or answering services. In working with a covered entity, business associates gain access to protected health information.
A business associate agreement (BAA) is necessary for any entity you share PHI or ePHI with during their contracted work. A strong BAA acknowledges both parties' adherence to HIPAA regulations. Furthermore, it safeguards organizations from liability due to breaches. If a party is responsible for a breach, the BAA should clearly define their accountability.
HIPAA Integrations with Formstack
When you use multiple apps inside your organization, secure, yet streamlined ePHI passage is critical. Formstack also offers HIPAA-friendly integrations with common apps, including:
- Formstack Documents
- Salesforce Marketing Cloud
- Google Suite
Concerned about meeting HIPAA requirements while keeping your healthcare organization secure? Formstack’s HIPAA-supportive features help you easily meet required regulations — without stress or extra coding. Pre-built forms collect ePHI using compliant encryption while data encryption, access controls, auditing, and logging help you keep patient information safe.