In today's digital age, the healthcare industry has been rapidly transitioning to electronic health records (EHRs) and other digital forms of patient data. While this shift has brought about many benefits, it has also created new challenges in terms of data privacy and security. This is where the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) comes in, mandating strict regulations to protect sensitive patient information, including electronic protected health information (ePHI). This blog post will explore the importance of HIPAA compliance and secure cloud storage for healthcare organizations.

ePHI and HIPAA Compliance

Electronic protected health information (ePHI) refers to any individually identifiable health information that is transmitted or stored electronically. This includes patients' medical histories, test results, diagnoses, and treatment plans, among other sensitive data. HIPAA requires that all covered entities, including healthcare providers and insurers, protect ePHI from unauthorized access, disclosure, and alteration. This means that healthcare organizations must implement appropriate physical, technical, and administrative safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI.

Benefits of using Cloud Storage in the Healthcare industry

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) was established in 2014 as a standard for exchanging healthcare information electronically. However, despite its introduction, many system deployments have yet to support this standard.

According to a 2020 survey by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), 49% of respondents reported some degree of FHIR usage within their organizations. Nevertheless, interoperability remains a critical issue for healthcare providers. One solution is to utilize secure cloud storage to share and integrate files between systems, utilizing reliable, secure, and robust protocols such as SFTP, FTPS, or S3.

By implementing these processes, healthcare organizations can improve patient care, reduce medical errors, and adhere to HIPAA and GDPR requirements. These processes include:

  • Care Coordination: By facilitating enhanced communication and collaboration among healthcare providers, patients receive better care and are less likely to experience medical errors.
  • Clinical Decision Support: Access to aggregated patient data and evidence-based guidelines helps healthcare providers make informed decisions about patient care.
  • Quality Improvement: Monitoring healthcare performance metrics helps to drive continuous improvement in care delivery and patient outcomes.
  • Research and Development: Facilitating data sharing for collaborative research projects and the development of new treatments and therapies.

Cloud Storage Requirements by Covered Entities

As more healthcare organizations turn to cloud storage to store and manage ePHI, it's important to note that HIPAA mandates certain cloud storage requirements for covered entities. These requirements include:

  • Ensuring that the cloud storage provider is also HIPAA compliant and willing to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA).
  • Implementing appropriate access controls and encryption to secure ePHI stored in the cloud.
  • Conducting regular risk assessments and audits to identify and mitigate potential security threats.
  • Establishing policies and procedures for data backup, disaster recovery, and emergency access to ePHI in case of system failure or natural disaster.

SFTP To Go: Helping Healthcare Organizations Achieve HIPAA Compliance

SFTP To Go is a secure and HIPAA compliant cloud storage solution that helps healthcare organizations protect ePHI and achieve compliance with HIPAA regulations. With SFTP To Go, healthcare providers can securely store and transfer patient data, while also meeting cloud storage requirements for covered entities. SFTP To Go provides end-to-end encryption, access controls, and audit logs to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI. Additionally, SFTP To Go's cloud-based platform allows for easy automation of file sharing and data processing among healthcare providers while ensuring the security of patient data.

To learn more about how SFTP To Go can benefit your organization, sign up today and reach out to our friendly support team to sign a BAA.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash