Healthcare organizations require a high level of security. Many may require using a hosting partner that is proficient in HIPAA standards. Choosing the right partner is crucial to an organization’s success, bringing on the wrong partner could result in loss of reputation, fines and information breaches.
When choosing a provider, organizations should ask specific questions to ensure that they are receiving the highest storage security level. Here are a few of the critical factors that healthcare organizations should consider when researching hosting partners.
Healthcare organizations should choose an IT partner who is an expert in compliance and security when it comes to healthcare. Data center providers must have a designated HIPAA compliance officer who is held responsible for maintaining compliance standards. The compliance experts within the hosting provider’s organization should be accountable for keeping up to date on new laws, data privacy issues, IT failures and crisis management. Experts should also know the standards to take to prevent and detect misconduct while navigating the always-changing regulatory landscape.
Business continuity plans are created to prevent interruptions of routine business procedures caused by natural or human-made disasters. Healthcare organizations should ask their HIPAA data center hosts about offsite backup options.
To satisfy HIPAA requirements, a host’s business continuity plan should include a number of things. The first necessary item an organization should have is data backup plan that establishes systems for restoring ePHI. A Disaster Recovery plan is also crucial; it identifies the processes needed to ensure ePHI can be restored. Healthcare organizations must establish procedures by implementing an emergency mode operation plan.
The ideal provider will offer both disaster recovery and business continuity to reduce downtime if a disaster occurs. When working with a partner who has multiple, geographically dispersed data centers is the best way to maintain high availability when disaster strikes. Healthcare is the cornerstone in communities; it is imperative that they remain open and fully operational throughout any emergency.
Data Center Infrastructure
Another critical element a HIPAA compliant hosting provider should have is the ability to facilitate an auditor’s risk assessment. Auditors will need to visit the facility to inspect the components that make up the IT environment and the critical systems in place to ensure the viability, uptime and confidentiality of the data on the system.
Business Associate Agreement
When choosing a partner, ensure that they have signed a Business Associate Agreement (BAA). The BAA will define the responsibilities of each party to maintain compliance.
Experienced HIPAA Provider
An experienced HIPAA hosting provider who works with organizations in the healthcare industry on a regular basis will have the defined knowledge and skillset to keep information secure. When working with experienced providers, they will already have the background experience of dealing with healthcare industry rules and regulations and will effectively advise you on your organization’s data center journey.
At IT Connection, it is our goal to provide organizations with all the information they need to ensure that their data is safe. For more information on HIPAA compliant data centers, download our Remote Data Center Management guide.