Businesses operating in the healthcare sector require applications that are Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant to avoid either willful or negligent violations of the data privacy provisions established in the legislation. Failure to adhere to HIPPA guidelines may result in significant regulatory fines and even steeper legal consequences. When healthcare providers mishandle protected health information (PHI), they jeopardize the critical trust relationship they need to maintain a reputable business.
The trouble with HIPPA is that it fails to provide any technical frameworks that your software applications must adhere to in order to remain compliant. Along these same lines, the government does not audit or analyze software applications to verify whether or not they were engineered to comply with the Act. While HIPPA provides a set of nationalized standards for storing and transmitting protected health information in all media, the responsibility of ensuring your business applications are configured to meet HIPPA standards falls in the hands of your company’s IT admins.
Is Microsoft 365 HIPAA compliant?
Many healthcare executives actively monitor Office 365 updates and developments to ensure the software remains HIPPA compliant. Fortunately, as of now, Microsoft continues to offer robust cloud solutions that let providers maintain their records securely while streamlining their confidential communications with minimal risk. It’s a pressing concern among some decision-makers, however, that 365 applications might be too convenient to the point where complacency could expose protected information stored on the cloud.
Cloud computing is hardly new to the healthcare industry, as many organizations have been deploying the solution for several years now. The cloud offers numerous benefits for safely housing PHI while providing a flexible tool to help healthcare organizations decide where and how they should use the technology. Ultimately, providers prefer the cloud because it simplifies patient record keeping and access in addition to enabling a more efficient and pleasant patient experience.
On the whole, migration to the cloud has been positive for the healthcare sector, but it does come with additional, ostensibly more complex compliance responsibilities that may require the assistance of a specialized outsourcer like PCH Technologies. While HIPPA-compliant software is now more readily available than it has ever been, many providers still need to rely on managed service providers to ensure their enterprise-grade cloud-based solutions like 365 comply with HIPPA standards.
Microsoft 365 is among the widely deployed cloud services in the healthcare industry and is arguably the most secure. It guarantees HIPPA compliance for every healthcare organization type using business association agreements (BAAs). Microsoft has made significant strides within the last few years in developing the Microsoft 365 suite so that it strictly adheres to HIPPA standards and guidelines while informing users which aspects of data protection fall into the hands of the health care provider.
HIPPA actors and considers before implementing and configuring 365 and Sharepoint
If your healthcare organization hasn’t rolled out Microsoft 365 or SharePoint yet and is considering it now, there are several key aspects of HIPPA compliance to keep in mind before moving forward with this plan. Let’s take a look at these factors in more detail below.
Identity and access management
Microsoft 365 and SharePoint offer robust access control solutions that only allow authorized staff and third-party partners to access your protected healthcare data. SharePoint allows you to partition data on a specified site so that your employees can only access the PHI necessary for carrying out their tasks. The cloud-based software lets you segment your files and data internally so that only pertinent information is visible, thus reducing the risks associated with insider threats.
An effective data loss prevention strategy is vital in the healthcare industry. Microsoft 365 provides a set of power solutions for helping you deliver fast and comprehensive PHI records on demand. Together, SharePoint and Microsoft 365 give you the tools you need to classify data and create reliable data loss prevention policies that protect sensitive patient information. The software applications allow you to streamline data management and document information life cycles in compliance with HIPPA regulations.
365 gives you enhanced integrated protection against threats that ensure your PHI and other sensitive business information remain secure across all Microsoft applications. These inbuilt security controls provide both threat response and detection through advanced system analytical tools that mitigate successful attacks and prevent breaches before they occur.
Low productivity and any unanticipated disruptions to healthcare operations could pose life-threatening consequences. Both Microsoft 365 and SharePoint give healthcare providers and admins a digital operating environment tailored to their specific needs, yet configuring them correctly often falls outside the scope can capabilities of your standard healthcare IT department.
PCH Technologies helps migrate to 365 and SharePoint platforms from their existing legacy systems in a way that reduces downtime and eliminates the risks associated with data loss, something that could constitute a potentially expensive HIPPA violation. We provide companies with a specialized team to configure each Microsoft application to account for your business’s specific requirements to ensure that you can provide all your services without interruption.
If your existing IT department is already saddled with advancing company strategic growth initiatives and overburdened with handling responses to various help desk inquiries, outsourcing Microsoft 365 and SharePoint implementation is among the best approaches for ensuring they stay on task. Apart from covering adoption and data migration, HIPPA also demands that your technology department maintain continuous oversight and responsibility for safeguarding confidential patient information.
The healthcare industry faces both threats from all angles, both internally and externally. It’s therefore imperative that you introduce and maintain Microsoft 365 and SharePoint in a way that maximizes the software’s powerful security measures to avoid a costly breach.
Stay ahead of HIPPA with a proactive approach
Providers that don’t assume a proactive approach to managing HIPPA compliance put themselves at risk for costly regulatory fines and litigation fees. If you’re unsure whether your organization is compliant or need assistance implementing 365 and SharePoint for the first time, don’t wait. Book a complimentary discovery call with PCH Technologies online now or dial (856) 754-7500 to connect with a Microsoft 365 and SharePoint specialist.