10 HIPAA Compliance Tips for Small Medical Practices - STG

10 HIPAA Compliance Tips for Small Medical Practices

Do you need to make your business’s IT HIPAA compliant but don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered. Here are 10 HIPAA Compliance tips for small medical practices to follow.

In this day and age, healthcare organizations face a concerning amount of cybersecurity threats. From phishing scams to ransomware attacks, the stakes have never been higher when it comes to protecting patient privacy and maintaining HIPAA compliance.  

Keeping these things safe starts with your IT infrastructure. Here are 10 HIPAA compliance tips you can follow:

Tip 1: Conduct a Baseline Risk Assessment 

Businesses who aspire to be HIPAA compliant know it takes more than checking boxes on a chart. It requires dedication to secure sensitive patient information against cyber threats.  

One of the first steps in this journey is to conduct a baseline risk assessment. 

This assessment allows healthcare practices to highlight their own vulnerabilities and weak points in their IT systems.  

Only when you understand your security posture can you lay the foundation for a robust cybersecurity strategy. 

Tip 2: Educate Your Staff 

HIPAA compliance truly starts from within your business.  

And let’s face it, if you run a healthcare organization, your employees are both your greatest asset and your biggest vulnerability when it comes to cybersecurity.  

Human error is still the leading cause of data breaches in the healthcare industry.  

You need to be educating your staff on cyber dangers in order to remain HIPAA compliant. 

When you impart employees with the knowledge and skills needed to detect and respond to cybersecurity threats, you put your healthcare organization in a significantly better overall security posture. 

Tip 3: Encrypt Electronic Communications 

Since the pandemic, there has been a massive uptick in online communication between patients and their healthcare providers – which raises some security concerns if not properly maintained.  

In order to stay HIPAA compliant, businesses need to encrypt their electronic communications.  

Encryption is a powerful tool that provides an added layer of protection for patient data and confidentiality. 

By embracing encryption protocols, your healthcare organization is able to uphold HIPAA standards and secure sensitive information from any prying eyes.  

Tip 4: Require Unique User Identification 

When trying to stay HIPAA compliant, healthcare practices with multiple staff members and IT devices must understand the importance of assigning unique user identification.  

By assigning each team member a distinct identifier, it enhances the overall accountability within your practice’s digital ecosystem.

You should be tracking who is accessing patient data and what they do with it. This includes assigning levels of access depending on authority which will ensure the right individuals are seeing certain data. 

Doing so not only strengthens internal security, but it also mitigates the risk of unauthorized access. 

Tip 5: Create Staff Reporting Procedures

You can help your staff maintain HIPAA compliance by creating reporting procedures when things go wrong. 

Cybersecurity readiness a more important than ever before and your staff should know what to do in case of emergency.  

Early detection is key to minimizing cybersecurity risks, and when you train your staff on reporting procedures, you empower them to be proactive in identifying and addressing potential security incidents. 

The goal is to foster a culture of transparency and accountability to improve cybersecurity and protect patient data.  

Tip 6: Be Mindful of Social Media Activity 

Who knew HIPAA compliance would include monitoring social media activity? 

Listen, it can be tough to navigate the intersection of social media and patient privacy. 

But so it’s clear, publicly engaging with patients on social media can inadvertently violate HIPAA regulations.

To ensure patient confidentiality, your healthcare business should be mindful of its social media activity and refrain from connecting with and sharing patient information publicly.  

Don’t put yourself at risk and use good judgment when interacting online. 

Tip 7: Integrate Activity Audit Controls 

In order to maintain HIPAA compliance, we suggest organizations record and examine user activity across their network. 

They should have a record of everyone trying to access patient data.  

Activity audit controls enable businesses to monitor access to electronically protected health information or EPHI and detect any suspicious behavior.  

Using software that records and examines user activity is a way to make a user accountable to any malicious activity and helps a business with their cybersecurity defenses.  

Tip 8: Properly Secure and Store Patient Photos 

HIPAA regulations will get ya if you don’t know how to properly secure and store patient photos. 

Any photos used to document patient procedures are considered protected health information or PHI and require careful handling and storage. 

Healthcare businesses should make sure they are storing patient photos in secure, HIPAA-compliant servers or systems and obtain patient consent before using or sharing them. 

Tip 9: Use Automatic Logoff Procedures 

This HIPAA compliance tip focuses on using an automatic logoff procedure. 

Simply apply this in device settings and set a timer. 

An automatic logoff is a simple yet effective way to boost your cybersecurity defenses. They prevent unauthorized access to EPHI by logging off when workstations are left unattended. 

These procedures can help your business minimize the risk of unauthorized access from snooping eyes or accidental account use. 

Tip 10: Implement a Strong Password Policy

Now let’s talk about the cornerstone of cybersecurity and one of the best ways to stay HIPAA compliant – strong passwords. 

Implementing a strong password policy is essential for protecting patient data from unauthorized access. 

Healthcare organizations in particular should encourage the use of long, complex passwords, and better yet – use a password manager and implement multi-factor authentication whenever possible. 

A robust password policy is a great way for your business to defend against cyberattack attempts. 

Check out our last video! ➡️ Understanding the Average Cost of IT Support

If you have a Los Angeles business and are looking for an IT provider to help you maintain HIPAA compliance, feel free to reach out to us at stginfotech.com or schedule a call via the calendar link below to learn more about how we can help you budget your IT infrastructure.

STG Infotech proudly provides IT Services for Small to Medium Businesses in Greater Los Angeles. We’d love to see if we can help you too!

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