If you sell products and services that require personal health data and you’re doing business in the U.S., your database must be in full compliance with HIPAA, an important law that protects the privacy and security of health data. In this article, we’re going to cover what the HIPAA laws are and what you can do to ensure compliance for your business.
HIPAA: What it is and Who it Applies To
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is a federal law that protects sensitive patient health information (PHI) from being shared without the person’s consent or knowledge. These national standards also reduce healthcare fraud and abuse, guarantee safety and privacy and assure health insurance portability (by eliminating pre-existing medical conditions).
Health care providers like doctors, dentists, pharmacies, hospitals, urgent care clinics and others must follow HIPAA laws if they transmit health information electronically. Even health apps that transmit and receive protected health information must follow HIPAA laws.
What is a HIPAA Compliant Database?
To have a HIPAA compliant database, proper planning and configuration are required. Below are some of the requirements you need to know about:
- Complete data encryption. All health data must be encrypted in the database and in transit. This prevents a malicious party from accessing sensitive information.
- Unique user IDs. HIPAA requires unique user IDs for all users and prohibits the sharing of user logins.
- Authentication. Users who access sensitive information must be securely authenticated.
- Authorization. The database must control access to users by assigning different roles and privileges.
- Audit Logs. All data usage must be stored in a separate infrastructure and archived according to HIPAA guidelines.
- Database backups. All backups must be fully encrypted and securely stored.
- HIPAA-trained support staff. Only trained personnel can address technical issues involving PHI.
- Data disposal. When data is no longer needed, it must be disposed of properly such as by using high-security file wiping.
What Happens if You’re Not in Compliance with HIPAA Laws?
If your business fails to be in compliance with HIPAA laws, you could face serious financial or criminal penalties. In addition to this, your business could damage its reputation and lose business partners and customers. The best ways to ensure you are in compliance with HIPAA are by:
- Enlisting professional help from a lawyer or third party auditor
- Conduct an annual risk assessment
- Ensure application and database security
- Educate employees about HIPAA
- Review agreements with other businesses
Arkware specializes in the design and implementation of databases. If you have questions about your database being in compliance with the latest HIPAA regulations, contact us today. We can look over your database and offer recommendations on how to ensure compliance.