The Doorway to Compliance

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act legislates how a patient’s information is managed, viewed, documented and transported in both interoffice and intra-office settings. The law protects both physical and electronic data and documents. It requires patients’ medical history be protected, but it also has forced organizations with access to this information to assess security needs and gaps to ensure compliance.

The difference between achieving HIPAA compliance and being in violation of these laws could be as simple as whether a door closes and locks properly.

Since HIPAA addresses information security from a comprehensive perspective, every place this information resides or passes through, both physically and electronically, must be protected.

Physical records must be in secured areas. Doors and locks into these areas should be inspected frequently to ensure their functionality. Entry management should ensure that only authorized personnel have access.

Some doors also must be alarmed, viewed by CCTV or staffed at all times.

The organization’s HIPAA compliance officer will determine which areas require enhanced security technology.

User protocols need to do more than establish who has access to the information; they need to establish how the information is accessed. Using an advanced key-based solution that has a patented keyway system is a sufficient basic solution.

Such a system allows administrators to keep track of key holders and significantly reduces problems associated with unauthorized key duplication.

A more popular and advanced security option is an electronic access control system. Electronic security comes in a variety of credential and network options, from offline pincode locks on a door to wireless locks and card readers. With an electronic solution, administrators can restrict user access to specific days and times, as well as log user entry. This audit trail can be used by administrators to help ensure compliance.

About the Author

Matt Conrad is the director of healthcare markets for Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies.

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