Why You Need To Make Sure You Are HIPAA Compliant as a Healthcare Start-up

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The healthcare sector is one of the most highly regulated industries out there and the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) is something that every healthcare start-up needs to deal with if they want to remain compliant in the US.  In this post, we’ll discuss what that entails and how you can make sure that everything is above board with your business.

An Introduction to HIPAA Compliance

The HIPAA act was devised in order to codify certain practices and regulations surrounding the privacy of patient information within the healthcare system.  It was first passed into law in 1996, but it was updated in 2013 to cover digital healthcare records and various data-related aspects that had become more and more prevalent.

If your company works in healthcare today, it’s crucial that you understand this act and that you ensure that your software that deals with patient data is up to scratch and can pass muster with the various rules that are involved.

HIPAA Security Rules

There are 5 main pillars of rules that HIPAA covers:

  1. Privacy: Medical records and patient data need to be protected while still being portable enough to be transferred safely where needed. This is also where a patient’s rights are codified in terms of how they manage their own data.
  2. Security: This speaks to a company’s obligation to institute appropriate administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and security of patient information.
  3. Enforcement: This looks at how the regulator calculates fines for non-compliance, laying out the stakes for when companies get things wrong.
  4. Breach Notification: This further defines what a breach looks like and how it should be disclosed and dealt with.
  5. Omnibus: This modifies the old HIPAA act, making things more stringent and adding extra detail where it was lacking.

In order to remain compliant, a good starting point is to run through this checklist and ensure that you’re covering your bases:

  • Do you have stringent risk assessment policies in place that codify your company’s compliance requirements?
  • Is your data storage in line with international best practice?
  • Do you minimize your personal data storage to only what is absolutely required?
  • Do you encrypt the data that flows through your system?
  • Do you have a robust data backup and recovery process in place?
  • Do your patients have the right to be forgotten?
  • Are there watertight access controls that determine who can access what?
  • Do you make use of suitable authentication protocols?
  • Do you schedule a regular audit to assess your HIPAA compliance?
  • Do you have a remediation plan for what will happen if there is a breach?

This is a great place to start and will help to catalyze the things that need to happen within your organization.

The Importance of HIPAA Compliance for Healthcare Start-ups

Being HIPAA compliant is one of the fundamental pillars of building any healthcare start-up and it’s something that needs to be prioritized from the very beginning.  If you’re integrating software or building your own – you need to work with technology partners who understand the seriousness of HIPAA and can bring their expertise to the table.

Here at Sunflower Lab, we have the skills, resources, and know-how to help you bring your healthcare software to life in a way that is fully HIPAA compliant.  If you’re looking for some assistance, or just want to find out more – get in touch today and let’s talk about how we can help.

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