As a managed services provider (MSP), it’s important to have a secure network in place. MSPs can help healthcare institutions maintain HIPAA compliance and protect patient confidentiality. But, maintaining compliance has proved challenging for healthcare institutions.
Because HIPAA violations can lead to large fines, implementing compliance initiatives is imperative. And, monitoring them is even more crucial.
How Managed IT Services Providers Help Increase HIPAA Compliance
A number of recent settlements have cost healthcare providers millions of dollars. In one case, a Florida-based healthcare provider, Memorial Healthcare Systems was fined over $5 million. There were several Protect Health Information (PHI) breaches. And, information system activity wasn’t checked regularly. A total of 12 employees accessed information on over 115,000 patients.
Because cyber threats are everywhere, organizations that manage PHI must satisfy HIPAA guidelines. It’s not weak firewalls and passwords or missing security updates, which are common misconceptions.
Issues that Lead to Non-Compliance
Nearly 80 percent of all meaningful use (MU) audits fail. Additionally, about 70 percent of providers aren’t HIPAA compliant based on HHS findings.
Incomplete Risk Assessments
One of the biggest causes of non-compliance are risk assessments that aren’t complete. There can also be a lack of information or understanding about the assessments. It’s one of the reasons that MU audits are mandatory.
To alleviate this, risk assessments should be regularly implemented and thorough. This can help to reduce data breaches. Organizations that are pro-active in blocking threats can better protect their data.
Risk assessments can uncover:
- Lack of disaster recovery plans or poor planning techniques
- Missing or weak encryption across multiple devices
- Poor patch management
- System vulnerabilities
- The need for more vulnerability testing
Not Reviewing Information System Activities
Another problem is not following up with information system activities. And, that’s where managed service providers (MSPs) can help.
For managed service providers to help with HIPAA compliance, they have to understand the impact on IT. IT support departments must meet specific criteria to ensure HIPAA compliance.
- Blocking unauthorized parties from obtaining all data
- Ensuring all backups and recovery plans are implemented and are secure
- Ensuring encryption is used to protect and store all data
- Protection, security, and maintenance of all healthcare data, records, and reports
- Maintaining full compliance and following all security protocols
The Role of MSPs: How They Can Add Value
Healthcare organizations that manage data and PHI, must ensure all information is protected. An MSP’s role is to help facilitate the storage of all data. This can be achieved by working with healthcare IT departments. By confirming their security features are all up to date, this can safeguard all patient data.
MSPs as Consultants
MSPs can also ensure all IT security is running properly. Monitoring scans and ensuring new updates are deployed can help protect data. In addition, MSPs can serve as consultants to troubleshoot errors or answer questions. By working with the IT staff, the MSP’s active presence can reduce risks, threats, and breaches. But, MSPs need to take a pro-active approach, too.
MSPs that allocate a compliance budget can help with reducing risks. It can increase ROI and reduce hacking, confidentiality breaches, and identity theft incidents.
MSPs leverage their services as safeguarding medical data and providing HIPAA compliance. MSPs specializing in managed security, disaster recovery plans, back-ups, and encryption are assets. Importantly, when they’re pro-active, they’re valuable, and that’s what healthcare organizations need.
MSPs as Stakeholders
Because HIPAA sees MSPs as associates, they are subject to penalties and regulations. MSPs want to ensure they invest time in the healthcare organizations they work with. The relationship isn’t just signed contracts, but ensuring proper protocols are implemented.
As stakeholders, the MSP is part of the healthcare organization’s infrastructure. Hence, it’s vital to create secure networks that benefit clients, patients, and employees.
The MSPs that will come out ahead are those that dig their heels in to help their healthcare clients. Some MSPs are fearful of regulations and worried about fines. But, by being the consultant that’s hands-on, the MSP can lead the client relationship.
MSPs that don’t know how to manage their clients are the ones prone to fines. They quickly fall to the wayside because their risk assessments have gaps. MSPs that are leaders embrace HIPAA guidelines and demonstrate their proficiencies.
While the work can be tough and it takes time, the rewards are big. The MSP has clients that are proud of their work. All data is secure and systems are functioning properly. Every HIPAA data breach is a lesson that can be learned. And, the question should be, How can we do better?
Protecting your client’s data is important. Because HIPAA violations can cost both the healthcare provider and the MSP, investing in proper risk assessments is crucial. The MSP serves a vital role as consultant and stakeholder. Cultivating this relationship in a consulting capacity can help reduce risks. MSPs can protect their client’s data and become significant stakeholders.
Looking for managed IT services Green Bay?
NetAssist is one of the leading MSPs in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Whether your organization is small or mid-sized, NetAssist has the means to help you secure your data. Don’t let a HIPAA violation or data breach catch you off guard. Safeguard your systems with NetAssist. Get a free assessment today!