Health Insurance Portabiliity and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

What is HIPAA?

Hospitals face some of the strictest and most complex regulations in the form of HIPAA and HITECH laws. As a whole, the health care sector is deep into a transition away from paper-based records management and into digital operations. This has led to a greater dependence on information technology and forced many hospitals, clinics and physician offices to start managing data centers. The result has been something of an upheaval as IT leaders in health care are facing greater responsibilities and formalized regulations are constantly evolving and becoming more complex in response to industry demands.

This is extremely evident in the HIPAA and HITECH regulations, which are working to encourage better data protection among health care providers. Up to this point, well-publicized data breaches and complex data sharing methodologies have left many consumers uncertain about what information they should trust their care providers with. Hospitals and other health care organizations that want to get consumers on their side and overcome mounting technological problems need to stick close to HIPAA and HITECH laws to protect themselves and their customers. Access control plays a major role in this process.

HIPAA, HITECH and access control

Like most regulatory guidelines, HIPAA and HITECH focus on the degree to which organizations need to protect data, not the nuances of how they need to go about enacting effective security measures. This can add to complexity, especially for IT teams already struggling to keep up with new technology demands. However, there is one thing that can help simplify all of these data management regulations – the emphasis is on controlling who can access different types of information.

Not all clinical staff members can view all of the data about a patient. Furthermore, community care and other analytics efforts need to be designed so that data about medical conditions is clear, but personally identifiable information is only accessible to the few individuals authorized to view it.

Maintaining this degree of privacy can be tricky, and understanding where data is stored and who can access it at any time is critical. This is where access control becomes extremely important. A good access control platform will help you not only ensure that only authorized individuals view information, it will also create an audit trail that documents who accessed data, when they did it and how long key entry points remained unlocked. The result is a much simpler data protection climate.