DLP Strategies to Maintain HIPAA Compliance

Data loss protection (DLP) for compliance is the process of ensuring that sensitive data is not breached through its accidental or intentional release. Patient information is some of the most sensitive information about any individual. With so much of it being stored electronically, it is essential that steps are taken to protect the privacy and maintain HIPAA compliance.

In the US this can mean both civil suits and large fines, sometimes up to $250,000 for the individual responsible. The compliance protocols state that any breach that occurs involving sensitive data that was not protected (encrypted) must be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services.

What is HIPAA compliance?

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It’s the law of the United States that is designed to ensure anyone handling sensitive patient information is protecting it and taking reasonable preventative measures to avoid its release. It sits alongside the HITECH Act, which raises the penalties around the release of electronic health information. We’ll be concentrating primarily on the Security Rule of HIPAA in this article, as it relates to electronic health information, but it’s important to be aware of the additional laws that come with health data.

What is the Security Rule

The Security Rule is the part of the Act that electronic protected health information – the creation, maintenance and movement of this kind of data. The key information relating to the Security Rule is to:

  • Ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all e-PHI they create, receive, maintain or transmit;
  • Identify and protect against reasonably anticipated threats to the security or integrity of the information;
  • Protect against reasonably anticipated, impermissible uses or disclosures; and
  • Ensure compliance by their workforce.

How to become compliant

A good DLP strategy essentially covers these things through software integration, plans and processes that are easy for healthcare professionals to use in their day-to-day jobs without slowing them down from their crucial role.

Everything from access control of who can actually see, modify and send sensitive information, through to encryption and other techniques when it comes to the downloading, uploading, sending and receiving of data.

Auditing, monitoring and scaling the process is also meant to be considered by healthcare institutions. This means constantly assessing all data and how sensitive it is, monitoring its movement to ensure there aren’t breaches which haven’t been considered with advancing technology, and ensuring that the DLP strategy is always growing and adapting to protect sensitive data.

Essentially, lawmakers are looking to ensure that healthcare professionals are taking due care, not only with patient safety during treatment, but also when they are dealing with patient information – from their health data to their Social Security Numbers. If you follow the preventative strategies above, you greatly reduce the risk of prosecution.