HIPAA Compliance: Is Your Cloud Storage Up to Par?

When it comes to cloud storage and the handling of sensitive personal information, customers expect the highest standards of security and professionalism from the companies who host their data and the communications providers who handle it.

Nowhere is this more important than in healthcare, a huge sector of the economy which is a lucrative target for hackers. Case in point: In October of 2018 alone, a pair of phishing attacks in North Carolina and Minnesota saw over 40,000 patient records stolen for criminal purposes. Every year, it seems that hackers and criminals get more creative and more determined to access healthcare records and use them for a multitude of criminal purposes.

HIPAA-compliant cloud storage must be a non-negotiable part of the service on offer.

What Is HIPAA?

According to a study by the Ponemon Institute, 90 percent of all healthcare organizations experienced some form of data compromise, ranging from unintentional employee mishandling to deliberate cyber theft, during the period 2012-2014, and it's only gotten worse since then.

This kind of criminal behavior is the reason that the U.S government developed the HIPAA regulations, which set the standard for protecting sensitive patient data. HIPAA, short for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was first introduced in 1996 under President Clinton, and was then subsequently updated in 2009 to reflect the changing nature of digital information on the web.

According to Online Tech, "The HIPAA Privacy Rule addresses the saving, accessing and sharing of medical and personal information of any individual, while the HIPAA Security Rule more specifically outlines national security standards to protect health data created, received, maintained or transmitted electronically, also known as electronic protected health information (ePHI)."

HIPAA and Communications

In a healthcare environment, one of the largest potential vulnerabilities for hackers to exploit is in the communications system.

Whenever data and personal medical records need to flow through the system, as is fundamental to communications, there is the possibility of that data being stolen. Security of the highest standard is vital and healthcare providers must ensure that their communications providers are compliant with the laws.

8x8’s cloud-based communication and collaboration systems provide the highest level of communications security. As a HIPAA-compliant business associate, 8x8 knows the ins-and-outs of compliant phone systems and contact centers.

There are three principal arenas where HIPAA regulation is most apparent with regard to communications services:

  • Business Phone Services: Hospitals are large and busy places, and they rely on good communications systems in order to run smoothly. Mobile devices and fixed lines need to be secure so medical personnel can speak freely and candidly about their patients.
  • Unified Communications: The modern medical system relies more than ever on direct connection between doctors and patients, in the growing arena of tele-medicine. Via chat, text, web conferencing and file sharing, there are risks associated in the process of communication that need to be carefully managed.
  • Cloud Contact Center: This critical nexus of the communication system is another hot spot that needs protection. When patients speak to call centers and require up-to-date patient information, or when they are connected to an appropriate health professional, then vigilance is required from all parties concerned.

These three communication arenas must be secured. Any company that deals with protected health information (PHI) must ensure that all the required physical, network and process security measures are in place and followed.

Take it to the Cloud

It may seem counter-intuitive to store your sensitive information in the cloud in a world of data hacks, but in fact, well-structured cloud-based environments are built from the ground-up with security as a top priority, continuously monitored and under surveillance, updated constantly to stay ahead of hackers and malware, and designed as one unified system so that it's easy to spot any breaches.

Your best defense against communications-related HIPAA breaches is to work with recognized third-party-validated HIPAA compliant communications providers. In addition, you should insist upon tailored Business Associate Agreements from companies that are experienced in providing HIPAA-compliant solutions.

Patients and healthcare customers are fully aware of the threats to their data, and one of the selling points that a service provider can offer is their HIPAA-compliant cloud storage capabilities.

When it comes to security, 8x8 provides reliable and compliant cloud solutions at a demanding level rarely seen by other cloud providers. Don't take your chances with a subpar cloud-based telecom system. Call 1-866-879-8647 or fill out our online form to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 Product Specialist.

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