Making the move to the cloud brings many benefits to businesses of all sizes, but the migration often presents no small number of worries to IT professionals. One of the biggest concerns with the cloud is security, particularly in the case of industries that are subject to strict compliance rules. Those who have been involved in business IT for a while have probably already heard of HIPAA, even if their companies don’t work within or on behalf of the healthcare industry.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was voted into law in 1996 to protect public health information (PHI) and prepare for its inevitable entry into the digital world. As such, HIPAA sets stringent standards for safeguarding patient privacy. And although the legislation primarily concerns businesses in the healthcare industry, it’s also important for many other types of business.
The two types of businesses subject to HIPAA rules
There are two types of businesses legally obliged to be HIPAA-compliant. First are “covered entities.” These are businesses specifically involved in the healthcare industry, such as relevant clearinghouses, healthcare providers and medical insurance providers.
However, HIPAA also applies to an oft-forgotten category of businesses. Any company that handles PHI on behalf of a covered entity is known as a “business associate,” and must also follow HIPAA standards. In other words, if your company works with a covered entity, you are required to maintain compliance.
Demonstrating to clients that you’re serious about security
HIPAA compliance is mandatory if you fall into the category of either a covered entity or a business associate. Nonetheless, any business can become HIPAA-compliant by starting with a security risk assessment. Data security has become one of the biggest corporate concerns of the modern world, and your customers will want to be sure that their data is in the best hands when they do business with you.
By being HIPAA-compliant, you’ll be able to show existing and potential customers that your business considers data security and integrity a top priority. When it comes to data protection, the healthcare industry has long been at the forefront of people’s attention — hence the reason for strict legislation being introduced to protect the sensitive information it handles. As such, businesses may want to consider HIPAA compliance something of a gold standard when it comes to protecting confidential data.
Marketing your business to covered entities
Covered entities are subject to strict regulatory requirements, including those introduced by HIPAA legislation. As such, they’re likely to be much pickier about which third-party vendors are going to be allowed to handle their information. If your company is not HIPAA-compliant, then you’ll have virtually no chance to sell your services to a covered entity. However, by becoming compliant, you’ll be able to actively market your business to covered entities. And when covered entities are on the hunt for business associates, HIPAA compliance may well be the first thing they look for.
If the products or services you offer have any potential application in business involving healthcare, medical insurance, or transactions involving either of these, then becoming HIPAA-compliant can give your company a great opportunity to tap into more streams of revenue. In fact, it’s a legal requirement for any company that handles information on behalf of a covered entity, and a violation can cost your business a fine of up to $50,000 per incident for a maximum of $1.5 million per year.
Since 2013, any companies that store or transmit digital data for their clients should seriously consider becoming HIPAA-compliant, even if they don’t currently handle any data that falls into the category of PHI. By doing so, you’ll be able to demonstrate to all your clients that you’re serious about safeguarding their data while also being able to tap into valuable new business opportunities.
Truewater provides a wide range of cloud services for various industries, including those in the healthcare vertical. We act as business associates for a number of our clients, so we definitely know a thing or two about HIPAA compliance. If you need to ensure that the systems you rely on meet the highest standards of security and privacy while also adhering to the law, contact us today.