What is HIPAA Compliant Online Backup?

Online data backup allows businesses to save important information securely, enabling them to recover quickly should there be an incident affecting their onsite file storage. Online data backup is also an important part of HIPAA compliance, as HIPAA requires exact copies of patient files to be maintained. There are several software solutions that can be implemented for online data backup, however, under HIPAA, software providers are considered business associates. So, before patient information can be stored using these solutions, it is important to determine whether or not the solution is HIPAA compliant. But what is considered HIPAA compliant online backup? The answer is discussed below.

HIPAA Compliant Online Backup and Security

HIPAA Compliant Online Backup

There is a minimum level of protection that you should look for when choosing an online data backup vendor. The security features that they offer must ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of protected health information.

End-to-end Encryption

End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a security method that prevents unauthorized users from accessing sensitive data. With E2EE, data can only be accessed with a decryption key. E2EE protects data in motion (data being sent or received through the platform) and data at rest (data stored on the platform).

User Authentication and Access Controls

User authentication and access controls are important parts of HIPAA compliance. User authentication is a means of confirming that users are who they appear to be, requiring them to input unique login credentials to access sensitive data. Access controls, required by the minimum necessary standard, enable administrators to designate different levels of data access to employees based on their job function by using those unique login credentials. 

Audit Logging

Audit logging tracks access to sensitive data on a per user basis. Audit logging is made possible through the use of unique login credentials, enabling organizations to pinpoint who accesses what data, when, and for how long. Audit logging also enables the quick detection of both insider and outsider breaches, as regular data access patterns are logged for each user, making it easier to determine when data is accessed outside the norm.

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HIPAA Compliant Online Backup and Business Associate Agreements

Just because a software service is secure doesn’t mean that it is HIPAA compliant. As we mentioned previously, software vendors are considered business associates under HIPAA. This means that, before a healthcare organization can use their service, they must have a signed business associate agreement in place.

Business associate agreements (BAAs) are legal documents that require each signing party to be HIPAA compliant, and be responsible for maintaining their compliance. As such, BAAs limit the liability for both parties in the event of a breach. Additionally, should either of your organizations be audited by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR), they will look for the presence of a BAA when determining fine amounts and corrective actions. Organizations that don’t have BAAs in place may be found negligent, possibly subjecting them to costly fines

Examples of HIPAA Compliant Online Backup Vendors

Now that we’ve discussed what you should look for in a HIPAA compliant online backup provider, we thought we would make it a little easier for you to find one.

Some HIPAA compliant online backup vendors include:

All of these vendors have sufficient security protections in place to keep patient information private and secure, and are willing to sign a business associate agreement.

Managing Online Backup with an MSP

Setting up your online data backup can be time consuming and difficult to do. Additionally, once its setup, there is maintenance involved to ensure that it is operating properly, and that all data that should be backed up to the system, is backed up. 

A properly functioning data backup system is an important part of data loss prevention, and disaster recovery. When the system is not running properly, should your organization experience a ransomware attack, or a natural disaster damages your onsite patient files, there can be major repercussions. Regaining your files could be costly or impossible, thus affecting patient care, and in the case of a ransomware attack, patient privacy and security.

This is why, organization’s without a dedicated IT staff, should look to a managed service provider (MSP) for guidance on setting up, and maintaining online data backup systems and processes.

Managing HIPAA Compliance

Did you know that there are many parts of HIPAA compliance that go beyond choosing a HIPAA compliant software vendor? By ensuring that your vendor is HIPAA compliant, you are taking a good first step, but you must also look to implement an effective HIPAA compliance program

To comply with HIPAA, you must:

  • Conduct annual self-audits
  • Implement remediation plans to address compliance gaps
  • Have written HIPAA policies and procedures
  • Conduct annual employee training
  • Implement business associate management
  • Have a process for incident response

Again, for many businesses, this can be confusing and complex to do. The main reason this is so, is because HIPAA law applies to a variety of types and sizes of healthcare organizations. Since this is the case, it is largely open for interpretation, leaving it to individual healthcare organizations to determine how to implement an effective HIPAA compliance program.

This is where the experts at Compliancy Group come in. As our client, all of the guesswork is taken out of HIPAA, leaving you confident that you have fully addressed the HIPAA regulations. You will never have to worry about whether or not your HIPAA compliance program is effective, as our process has a proven track record (we have never failed an audit on behalf of our clients!). What’s even better, our customer support is unmatched, as you will have a dedicated Compliance Coach with you every step of the way, guiding you through our process and software platform.

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