In recent years, the healthcare industry has rapidly transitioned 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 post will explore the importance of HIPAA compliance and secure cloud storage for healthcare organizations.
What are ePHI and HIPAA compliance?
Electronic protected health information (ePHI) refers to any individually identifiable health information that is transmitted or stored electronically, including patients':
- Medical histories
- Test results
- Treatment plans
- Other sensitive data
For a quick look at how ePHI is determined under HIPAA's Privacy Rule, watch the HIPAA Help Centre video below.
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.
What are the benefits of using Cloud Storage in Healthcare?
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.
What are the cloud storage requirements for 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:
- Provider compliance: Ensuring the cloud storage provider is HIPAA compliant and willing to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA).
- Security measures: Implementing robust access controls and encryption to secure ePHI.
- Regular audits: Conducting periodic risk assessments to identify and mitigate potential threats.
- Emergency protocols: Formulating strategies for data backup, disaster recovery, and emergency access to ensure ePHI safety.
SFTP To Go: Helping healthcare organizations get HIPAA compliant
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 stands as a secure and HIPAA-compliant cloud storage solution, aiding healthcare organizations in protecting ePHI while meeting regulatory demands.
The platform offers:
- End-to-end encryption: Ensuring utmost confidentiality and integrity of ePHI.
- Access controls and audit logs: Maintaining meticulous records to facilitate compliance.
- Cloud-based platform: Allowing seamless and secure file sharing and data processing automation.
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.
People also ask
What is ePHI in HIPAA compliance?
ePHI, or electronic protected health information, refers to any individually identifiable health data transmitted or stored electronically. This can include medical histories, test results, diagnoses, treatment plans, and other sensitive patient information. HIPAA mandates that all covered entities, such as healthcare providers and insurers, protect ePHI from unauthorized access, disclosure, and alteration by implementing appropriate safeguards.
How does HIPAA regulate healthcare?
HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, enforces strict regulations to safeguard sensitive patient information, including ePHI. It necessitates healthcare organizations to adopt appropriate physical, technical, and administrative measures to maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI.
What are the benefits of cloud storage in healthcare?
Cloud storage promotes enhanced communication and collaboration among healthcare providers, leading to improved patient care and reduced medical errors. By leveraging secure protocols such as SFTP, FTPS, or S3 for file integration between systems, healthcare organizations can adhere to regulatory requirements, facilitate informed clinical decisions, foster continuous improvement in care delivery, and encourage data sharing for research and development.
What does HIPAA require for cloud storage?
HIPAA dictates that covered entities utilizing cloud storage for ePHI must ensure that their cloud storage provider is HIPAA compliant and agrees to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA). Moreover, they should adopt robust access controls and encryption to secure ePHI, conduct regular risk assessments to mitigate potential threats, and establish strategies for data backup, disaster recovery, and emergency access.
How does SFTP To Go ensure HIPAA compliance?
SFTP To Go is a HIPAA-compliant cloud storage solution that assists healthcare organizations in safeguarding ePHI and meeting HIPAA standards. It offers end-to-end encryption for the utmost confidentiality and integrity of ePHI, meticulous record-keeping through access controls and audit logs, and facilitates secure file sharing and automated data processing on a cloud-based platform.
How does cloud storage aid care coordination?
Cloud storage enhances care coordination by improving communication and collaboration among healthcare providers. This leads to better patient care and a reduction in medical errors, as it facilitates the efficient sharing and integration of patient data, allowing for more informed decisions and coordinated efforts in patient treatment and management.
Why is a BAA important for HIPAA compliance?
A Business Associate Agreement (BAA) is a legally binding document that outlines the responsibilities and requirements of a business associate in handling and protecting ePHI in accordance with HIPAA regulations. It is mandatory for healthcare organizations to have a BAA signed with their cloud storage provider to ensure the safe management of ePHI and adhere to HIPAA compliance.