Security is a major cause of concern in today”s techno savvy global corporate environment. With organizations and healthcare facilities going towards a paperless environment, most of the information transfer and storage is in digital formats. Organizations, healthcare institutions and hospitals are faced with security challenges of their records and personnel. The need to protect the privacy of employees or patients involves a critical issue of the access to the electronic information.
Through a forward looking approach with view to address the current problems of IT compliance and security requirements of the healthcare industry and corporate sectors, various regulatory controls were put in place. This includes healthcare compliance in the form of Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, signed as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Act, besides adding requirements for security breaches, has also laid down security standards for maintaining electronic health records. This Act also expands the privacy provisions beyond the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) Act.
Tthe HIPAA act was enacted in 1996 in the United States among other things to protect the health insurance coverage for employees and their next of kin in case of change of workplace or retrenchment. With the widespread use of electronic data exchange, HIPAA also made provisions for health care providers, insurance companies and employers to confirm to national standards in electronic health care transactions, so as to maintain high level of security. However, since the integrity of data is at risk by technological enhancements, the HIPAA healthcare act has transaction and code rules besides a number of standards and guidelines for the organizations to maintain the privacy and security of sensitive health information.
Though considered a boon to the security of healthcare information, these regulatory systems offer the entities a number of challenges too. The use of compliance management software developed by experts in the field will help organizations streamline and automate compliance initiatives. Further organizations have also made use of smart cards to identify access to the electronic documents. Such holistic enterprise-wide approach is needed for effective controls
Conformance to HIPPA/HITECH regulatory controls ensure Information security and healthcare regulatory compliance. These Acts address the security and privacy issues in healthcare industry. HITECH applies to the business associates too. Under such provisions, the business associates are also accountable for any data breaches and face penalties for non-compliance.