As society quickly adapts to an online environment, so too does the storage of private information and health documentation. While the digital storage of patient health information increases the efficiency of documenting, receiving or retrieving medical records, it also increases its vulnerability. Here, the computer forensics experts at Atlantic Data Forensics provide an overview of what you need to know about digital HIPAA compliance.

HIPAA Regulation Began in 1996

In 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, was passed in order to protect private medical information and establish regulations concerning the security of health documentation. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) created both the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the HIPAA Security Rule in order to execute the conditions established under HIPAA. The Privacy Rule creates a national standard required for the protection of personal health information (PHI), while the Security Rule addresses the rules that organizations must follow in order to secure both physical and electronic data.

The Digital Age Complicates Protection of PHI

While the digital storage of classified information increases both mobility and convenience, it also complicates the responsibilities of companies, healthcare organizations and other entities to fulfill the requirements under HIPAA. Handling of electronic protected health information, or e-PHI, must be upheld to the standards of privacy required by the Security Rule just as physical documentation would.

HHS indicates that, given the complexity of the healthcare industry, the Security Rule is designed to be flexible in order to adapt to the needs of an organization’s size and structure, as well as the specific risks associated with the consumers’ e-PHI. With digital documentation of medical records including, but not limited to, electronic health records, computerized physician order entry (CPOE) and online laboratory systems, it is imperative that the Security Rule under HIPAA establishes necessary protection for all classified data. 

HITECH Act Raises Penalty for HIPAA Violation

On February 17, 2009, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was passed as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. HITECH was created as a means to promote the responsible use of private health information. As a function of HITECH, entities in violation of HIPAA are subject to more severe penalties, including fines, as a means to strengthen the security of e-PHI. In this way, the HITECH Act incentivizes entities to uphold and maintain HIPAA regulations by instituting fines and providing a means for businesses to correct accidental violations of these laws.

Stay Protected with Atlantic Data Forensics

Laws that are put in place to manage the violation of HIPAA are progressing to match the pace of today’s digital age, but nevertheless, protecting your private health records is more important than ever. The computer forensics and safe data destruction experts at Atlantic Data Forensics have the skills necessary to manage a data breach and are here to provide additional resources to help best protect your classified information. To learn more about how the team at Atlantic Data Forensics can help you take control over your data security, contact us today.