HIPAA regulations require healthcare organizations and individual care providers to take measures to keep patient data secure. Failure to do so can result in fines, if an organization suffers a breach of unsecured PHI. The HIPAA Security Rule requires that mobile devices be rendered secure. Security Rule requirements needed for HIPAA compliant laptops are discussed below.
What is a Security Risk Assessment?
The HIPAA Security Rule requires that covered entities (health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and healthcare providers who electronically transmit any health information in connection with a HIPAA related transaction), and business associates implement security safeguards. These security safeguards must protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information (ePHI). ePHI is any protected health information that is created, stored, transmitted, or received in any electronic format.
Performing a security risk analysis is the first step in identifying and implementing these safeguards. Performing this assessment is also required to have a HIPAA compliant laptop. A security risk analysis consists of conducting an accurate and thorough assessment of the potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI.
What are the Elements of a Security Risk Analysis?
The security risk analysis includes six elements:
- Collecting Data
- Identifying and Documenting Potential Threats and Vulnerabilities
- Assessing Current Security Measures
- Determining the Likelihood of Threat Occurrence
- Determining the Potential Impact of Threat Occurrence
- Determining the Level of Risk to ePHI
What is the Relationship Between the Security Risk Assessment and HIPAA Compliant Laptops?
A risk assessment encompasses a company’s entire IT infrastructure; company policies; administrative processes; physical security controls, and all systems, devices, and equipment that are capable of storing, transmitting or touching ePHI.
These devices include laptops. To have HIPAA compliant laptops, organizations must conduct a risk assessment, which will provide companies with vital information as to how laptop security measures can be improved or implemented.
What Safeguards Must be Implemented to have HIPAA Compliant Laptops?
In order for covered entities to have HIPAA compliant laptops, covered entities must:
- Consider the use of encryption for transmitting ePHI, particularly over the Internet
- If a risk assessment has determined that lack of encryption presents a risk, encryption should be implemented
- A covered entity violates HIPAA if it allows transmission of ePHI over an open network, such as via SMS messages
- Encrypt data in motion, if it has been determined that ePHI transmission, if not encrypted, would be at significant risk of being accessed by unauthorized entities
- Implement access controls to ensure users are authenticated
- Organizations should implement multi-layered security controls to reduce the risk of unauthorized data access
- Put protections in place to ensure data cannot be altered or destroyed
- Put controls in place to allow devices to be audited
- Organizations must have the capability to examine access (and attempted access) to ePHI, and any other activity performed on the device that has the potential to affect data security
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