What Are HIPAA Audit Trail and Audit Log Requirements?

Audit logs are an important part of HIPAA compliance as they track access to your data. Establishing an audit trail, and tracking it in an audit log, enables the quick detection of breaches and ensures adherence to the minimum necessary standard. To provide guidance on tracking your data, HIPAA audit trail and audit log requirements are discussed.

HIPAA Audit Trail Requirements

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released guidance on audit controls and audit trails.

HIPAA audit trail requirements as per the HHS include:

HIPAA Audit Log Requirements and HIPAA Audit Trail Requirements

Application audit trails. Normally monitor and log user activities in the application. This includes the application data files opened and closed, and the creating, reading, editing, and deleting of application records associated with ePHI.

System-level audit trails. Usually capture successful or unsuccessful log-on attempts, log-on ID/username, date and time of each log-on/off attempt, devices used to log-on, and the application the user successfully or unsuccessfully accessed.

User audit trails. Normally monitor and log user activity in a ePHI system or application by

recording events initiated by the user, such as all commands directly initiated by the user, logon attempts with identification and authentication, and access to ePHI files and resources.

HIPAA Audit Log Requirements

HIPAA requires healthcare organizations to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of protected health information (PHI). As such, it is necessary to monitor and track access to PHI. Audit logs track both authorized and unauthorized access to PHI, ensuring adherence to the minimum necessary standard.

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