6 best HIPAA-compliant hosting services

HIPAA violations cost healthcare organizations over $28 million in 2018. Anthem, one of the largest health insurance companies in the U.S., was forced to settle for a whopping $16 million following a record-breaking health data breach. With so much at stake, it’s easy to see why HIPAA compliance is so important.

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Selecting the right web hosting service is crucial for HIPAA compliance. Doing so will help organizations protect themselves from costly fines and legal nightmares. Conversely, companies that aren’t conscientious with their web hosting face a serious risk of HIPAA infringement.

Let’s take a look at what HIPAA-compliant hosting entails.

What is HIPAA-compliant hosting?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed in 1996.The bill created regulations to ensure the confidentiality of patients’ protected health information (PHI). With HIPAA in place, healthcare organizations must adhere to strict rules regarding the storage, processing, and transmission of electronic protected health information (ePHI).

Since web hosting involves the storage and handling of electronic data, it naturally falls under the umbrella of HIPAA compliance. To be compliant, a web hosting company must

  • Limit access to facilities (authorized personnel only)
  • Uphold policies regarding access to electronic media and workstations
  • Prevent access to ePHI with technical, physical, and administrative safeguards
  • Maintain records of software and hardware activity
  • Have a disaster recovery plan and adequate network security

Compliant platforms still require diligence

It’s crucial to recognize that buying these services is not a guarantee of HIPAA compliance. Safe tools and solutions can still be misused and result in a violation. Think of it like driving a car. You can buy a car with stellar crash test ratings and features like blind spot detection to maximize your safety. However, if you handle the car improperly, you can still cause an accident.

One of the biggest risks with hosting services is misconfiguring the settings. Take Amazon Web Services. “AWS misconfigurations are very common. So much so, that Amazon recently emailed users who had potentially misconfigured their S3 buckets to warn them that data could be accessed by anyone.” —HIPAA Journal

By default, AWS is secure, but certain changes to the settings can violate HIPAA. That’s why it’s important to be as careful and as diligent as possible. Know the best practices and proper configurations of the platform you are using. If you’re unsure, bring in an expert to advise you.

When HIPAA is involved, you can’t be too cautious. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Firm believer in personal data privacy in the age of information. Close follower of the new regulations concerning patient confidentiality & HIPAA.

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