For organizations that transmit, store or manage electronic protected health information (ePHI), being updated on the HIPAA guidelines is of paramount importance. The Guidance on HIPAA & Cloud Computing published by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) highlights and elaborates responsibilities of cloud service providers (CSPs), business associates (BAs), and covered entities (CEs).

There is an urging need for security and compliance in the cloud for the healthcare industry, as more cybercriminals specifically target the sector due to the critical information it involves. For organizations or agencies handling PHI, the HIPAA compliance requirements circle around protecting files and representing the file lifecycle details. The combination of document management systems and modern cloud-computing platforms has provided health organizations with a sigh of relief from the outdated protocols.

Opportunities Abound for Cloud Computing Circling HIPAA Guidelines

Cloud computing has been enabling healthcare organizations to grow, change, use and access ePHI databases for streamlined patient care. With the right compliance and security regulations surrounding HIPAA, possibilities that healthcare can achieve through cloud computing are endless. The widespread adoption and explosion of cloud computing solutions have raised questions among HIPAA covered business associates and entities about methods of leveraging the cloud. 

Compliance with regulations that keep the security and privacy of ePHI intact is a must-have for organizations. Indispensable protection norms have been established for the individually identifiable health information by HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules. These include limitations on disclosures and uses of such information, individuals’ rights to their health information, and safeguards against disclosures and inappropriate uses.

Key Mandates under Document Management Systems and HIPAA Compliance

1.Records Management, Disposal, and Retention

HIPAA compliance requires organizations to retain patient documentation for a minimum of 6 years since its creation. Not only can the organization define retention rules and utilize custom metadata to pin retention start dates, but can also implement disposable norms during customization using DMS software. This way, the document either gets deleted manually or automatically. In addition, administrators with permissions are able to review files prior to their deletion and gain audit reports on disposals.

2. Audits

When an audit is on the roll, an organization’s patient files and documents must serve as detailed maps and be as transparent as possible. These files must represent the whos, whats, whens, wheres, and whys of every activity. In case of any non-compliance, negligence, or fraud in the PHI files’ vicinity, organizations have to take immediate actions for getting as many insights into the issue as possible.

3. Access Management

For maintaining the HIPAA compliance standards, it is critical to possess centralized ownership of files, and DMS software makes this happen. The DMS software bestows organizations with the power to set levels of access based on titles, roles, and various other forms of permissions. DMS also prevents authorized users from getting access to private files and guards against modification or deletion of sensitive records. This further offers the goldilocks zone of security for the environments that maintain PHI or ePHI files. 

Compliance not only guards businesses against huge regulatory fines but also protects their reputation and minimizes risks. With HIPAA compliance, cloud computing provides technical dexterity and enables health organizations to gain a competitive edge in the rapidly advancing business landscape. Understanding HIPAA compliance can help organizations govern business associates and CSPs. They can also be capable of finding a reliable, compliance-friendly provider to fit their compliance needs and usability requirements.

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