7 Cybersecurity Compliance Strategies for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers

Compliance is a must for healthcare providers. Failing to comply with HIPAA and other healthcare cybersecurity regulations can put your patients at risk and your business in serious jeopardy.

You might already know HIPAA’s compliance requirements, but they’re intentionally vague. What actionable steps can your organization take to follow the law? When in doubt, follow these seven cybersecurity compliance strategies to keep your hospital compliant.

1. Follow the 405(d) HICP Framework

405(d) is a list of requirements from the Department of Health and Human Services in collaboration with the healthcare industry. Created by the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, 405(d) provides healthcare organizations with cybersecurity best practices.

While the ultimate goal is to protect your patients, following the 405(d) Healthcare Industry Cybersecurity Practices (HICP) framework will help you maintain regulatory compliance, too. It gives you actionable insights for cybersecurity compliance, including:

  • Email protection
  • Access management
  • Data loss prevention
  • Asset management
  • Vulnerability management
  • Medical device security

2. Change the Culture of Your Organization

The human element is one of the biggest risk factors for compliance and is often the cause of ePHI breaches. That’s why you need a compliance-first culture where everyone assumes responsibility for following the rules — not just the legal department or IT.

Culture change isn’t easy, but there are a few things you can do today to start building a culture of cybersecurity and compliance:

  • Create simple, easy-to-understand security policies.
  • Place security and compliance posters around the workplace to remind staff of the importance of keeping sensitive patient data safe and following best practices for cyber hygiene, such as using strong passwords and changing them regularly.
  • Encourage employees to report suspicious behavior, such as emails from unknown sources that ask the recipient to click on a link or open an attachment.
  • Reward employees who contribute to a culture of compliance, such as recognizing those who report threats and vulnerabilities.

Over time, you can make your team more aware of compliance requirements by:

  • Training everyone on compliance requirements at least once a month
  • Sharing details of recent breaches and penalties in your industry
  • Quizzing your team on best practices to ensure compliance
  • Adding compliance and procedural adherence to employee evaluations

Leaders also should accept that compliance isn’t a one-and-done task. It’s an ongoing mission that never stops. HIPAA is always changing — and cyber threats are on the rise — so leaders need to stamp out complacency and take compliance seriously.

3. Manage Third-Party Risk

HIPAA requires you to sign business associate agreements (BAAs) with your vendors. This is a helpful way to hold vendors liable to HIPAA requirements; it can even shield your organization if an associate doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain.

However, BAAs alone can’t manage third-party risk. If you want to boost compliance, you’ll also need to:

  • Train vendors on your processes
  • Limit vendor access and revoke access to ePHI when it’s no longer needed
  • Put safeguards in place to limit phishing attempts from attackers posing as vendors

4. Gain Visibility Into ePHI

Cybersecurity compliance strategies are tough to implement, especially in the modern information-sharing age. It’s normal for information to be shared outside the organization’s firewalls as healthcare has become increasingly decentralized and virtual — making clinicians the new security perimeter.

Hospitals and healthcare providers need to be able to share ePHI easily to improve the quality of patient care and enhance patient safety, but they must be able to share securely.

However, you can’t secure ePHI and maintain compliance if you aren’t aware of it. Tausight’s Situational ePHI Awareness solution provides a single, comprehensive view of both structured and unstructured ePHI, not only within your organization’s network but throughout the healthcare ecosystem — as it’s being created, stored, transferred, copied, and shared among healthcare providers, applications, and third parties. Self-service dashboards and customizable reports provide continuous monitoring of cyber preparedness, indicating whether your data is secure and protected in compliance with 405(d) HICP, resulting in better PHI protection and improved patient safety.

5. Update and Patch Software

Outdated software contains known vulnerabilities that hackers will exploit. If you want to comply with HIPAA to prevent breaches and avoid the penalties that come with them, your organization needs to patch and update software as patches become available and updates are released.

The challenge is that healthcare organizations have so many endpoints. It’s hard to know which devices are updated and which are out-of-date. It’s possible to keep tabs on this with asset management, though, so work with your IT team to track and manage all of your assets.

Some solutions will automatically push patches and updates to your devices, so you never have to worry about falling out of compliance. Finally, ensure that you have visibility into all the data being created, stored, copied, transferred, and shared across all endpoints with Tausight’s Situational ePHI Awareness solution.

6. Manage the Internet of Things

Attacks against Internet of Things (IoT) devices are one of the biggest healthcare cybersecurity risks. Blood pressure monitors, cameras, and even fax machines are popular targets for cyber attacks. This is a compliance risk that many organizations don’t even recognize, but it’s critical to secure your IoT devices to stay compliant.

This differs by organization, but you can manage IoT security by:

  • Creating a segmented network for medical devices
  • Continuously monitoring these devices for anomalies
  • Requiring multi-factor authentication
  • Automatically patching and updating IoT firmware

7. Secure Mobile Devices

Healthcare doesn’t happen on paper charts. Patient care happens using tablets, phones, and other mobile devices across the entire healthcare ecosystem to document care, receive vital ePHI, and share information with other providers and entities to enhance patient safety and improve the quality of care. While mobile devices are essential for saving time and quickly sharing information, they’re a significant compliance challenge.

Your organization needs to ensure that all mobile devices are configured with compliance in mind. Use encrypted applications, require multi-factor authentication on all devices, and allow remote wiping in case of device loss or theft.

Keep Your Hospital Compliant with Cybersecurity Best Practices

Healthcare compliance is multi-faceted. It requires a lot from your organization, employees, and vendors. While penalties decreased in 2021, HIPAA penalties rose again in 2022.

It’s clear that healthcare organizations and hospitals can’t rest on their laurels. Now is the time to take action. Contact Tausight today to learn how Situational ePHI Awareness can help your organization protect patient data and maintain compliance.

profile photo of David Ting

David Ting

Founder and CTO, Tausight

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