HIPAA compliant cloud storage is more than just a buzzword for healthcare administrators. It’s an essential requirement in today’s digital world that businesses need to be aware of and prepared for if they’re going to succeed in the highly competitive industry.
The implementation of this new technology has created a whole new set of issues with data security, privacy, and compliance. Cloud data storage providers are well-versed in these matters and take every precaution necessary to ensure their clients’ needs are met by adapting their services accordingly.
HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage in 2021: What Is It?
A HIPAA-compliant cloud storage solution includes all of the necessary safeguards to protect ePHI’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability. The covered entity is responsible for developing policies and procedures governing the use of HIPAA-compliant secure cloud storage and cloud environment for this data.
If you’re looking for a HIPAA compliant cloud storage service, then you’ve come to the right place. At Wheelhouse IT, we are experts in HIPAA compliant cloud storage. We offer secure, reliable, and scalable solutions that are easy to use and manage. With our expertise in healthcare compliance, we can help your organization meet its regulatory requirements while reducing costs and improving productivity.
Our team of experts will work with you to design a solution that meets your needs – whether it’s storing patient data or just backing up files from your computer at home. Get started today by contacting us. Contact Wheelhouse IT today for more information on how we can help protect your data! In this article, we cover HIPAA-compliant storage and explain your responsibility in making your cloud storage compliant.
What is HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage in 2021?
Cloud computing solutions provide undeniable cloud benefits for storing and accessing electronic health records. File storage in the cloud is accessible anytime and anywhere from any device using a direct messaging protocol, which makes it easy to share critical medical information between healthcare professionals. But are the security measures of cloud storage and cloud computing services secure enough to store, access, and transfer sensitive personal and medical records?
For clinics, hospitals, and other healthcare organizations, ensuring that patients’ medical information stays private isn’t just an ethical issue, it’s a legal one as well. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) provides clear rules about the storage, sharing of medical data, and making cloud data safe. Any organization that handles health records is required to be in compliance. Therefore, before moving health-related data to cloud storage, healthcare organizations need to make sure that the software they plan to use is HIPAA compliant.
The key provisions of HIPAA include:
- HIPAA Privacy Rules — Regulate how an individual’s health information may be disclosed or used
- HIPAA Security Rules — Specify standards for safeguarding and protecting electronically created, processed, accessed, or stored healthcare information
- The HIPAA Breach Notification Rule — Requires organizations to notify individuals whose personal health information has been exposed and regulates the process of notification
- The HIPAA Omnibus Rule — Clarifies definitions, procedures, and policies; provides a checklist for Business Associates; and implements the requirements of the Health Education Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act
- The HIPAA Enforcement Rule — Governs investigations following a data breach and states the penalties imposed on the responsible party
Types of Security Safeguards
The HIPAA Security Rule covers three types of safeguards for protected health information:
- Physical safeguards — HIPAA requires developing policies for the use and positioning of workstations and procedures for use of mobile devices, as well as implementing facility access controls, if applicable.
- Technical safeguards — HIPAA requires implementing activity logs and controls, as well as a means of access control. Compliance might require mechanisms for authenticating information and tools for encryption.
- Administrative safeguards — HIPAA requires conducting risk assessments, implementing risk management policies, developing a contingency plan, and restricting third-party access to information.
HIPAA Compliance and Cloud Storage
No cloud server is HIPAA-compliant right out of the box, but there are ways that IT experts can step in and make the cloud compliant with the needs of covered entities.
Organizations should keep in mind that there is no official HIPAA or HITECH certification, and no government or industry certifies HIPAA compliance for cloud services. That means it’s up to the covered entity and the cloud service provider to ensure adherence to the law’s requirements. The cloud service must review HIPAA regulations and possibly update its products, policies, and procedures to support a covered entity’s HIPAA compliance goals.
How does HIPAA apply to cloud storage?
When a covered entity stores PHI in the cloud, the cloud storage service is considered by law to be a business associate of the covered entity. To be HIPAA compliant, therefore, a Business Associate Agreement has to be in place. That agreement needs to state that the cloud service provider shall:
- Secure the data transmitted to the cloud
- Store the data securely
- Provide a system that allows careful control of data access
- Record logs of all activity, including both successful and failed attempts at access
A HIPAA-compliant cloud storage incorporates all the required controls to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI. The covered entity is responsible for developing policies and procedures covering the use of HIPAA secure cloud storage for this information.
Wheelhouse IT is an expert IT firm that can help you with everything HIPAA compliant cloud storage.
The Most Popular Cloud Storage Services that Support HIPAA and HITECH
Although not all of their versions will be compliant, several popular cloud storage services support HIPAA and the HITECH Act. They include:
G Suite and Google Drive
BAA is an addition to the regular G Suite Agreement offered by Google. Despite not being 100% HIPAA compliant, several helpful Google applications fall under HIPAA criteria concerning the storage and distribution of ePHI.
Your Google Drive files, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms, as well as Gmail and Calendar, may all be set up for HIPAA compliance. It should be noted, however, that Google Contacts, as well as non-core Google properties like YouTube and Blogger, are not HIPAA compliant and hence cannot be included in a BAA.
Microsoft OneDrive and E5
Microsoft’s Online Service Terms automatically provide a Business Associate Agreement. The agreement is available for OneDrive for Business, Azure, Azure Government, Cloud App Security, and Office 365, among others. Covered services include email, file storage, and calendars. Microsoft also provides data loss prevention tools. Microsoft’s Enterprise E5 License offers the most robust security features the company has available. The package also includes advanced security management for assessing risk.
Box Enterprise and Elite
Box Enterprise and Elite accounts include access monitoring, reporting, and audit trails for users and content. The service also provides granular permissions or authorizations. Box can securely share data through a direct messaging protocol and allows secure viewing of DICOM files, including X-rays, CT scans, and ultrasounds.
Dropbox Business offers a BAA for covered entities and can be configured to offer HIPAA-compliant cloud storage. The service provides a variety of administrative controls, including user access review and user activity reports. It also allows for the review and removal of linked devices and enables two-step authentication for additional security.
Essential Security Features for HIPAA Compliance
HIPAA requires a number of security features from services that work with covered entities. The cloud storage services mentioned all allow for a combination of the following security configurations:
- A HIPAA-compliant cloud storage must offer two-step authentication or single sign-on and encryption of transferred ePHI.
- All devices used to access or send ePHI must be able to encrypt messages to be sent outside the firewall and decrypt the messages received. All encryption must meet NIST standards.
- Configuration of file sharing permissions allows covered entities to implement a permission-based system that limits unauthorized user access. The controls must be configured correctly to be effective, including two-step authentication, secure passwords, and secure file-sharing procedures to protect data from unauthorized access.
- Account activity monitoring requires you to review access logs regularly to ensure you can spot improper activity promptly. Solutions like Netwrix Auditor help you gain visibility into business activities in the cloud. Netwrix Auditor reports on both access events and changes, including changes to content, security settings, and mailbox settings.
- Data classification is essential for grouping and protecting information based on sensitivity level. Netwrix Data Classification provides predefined taxonomies that are easy to customize, classify data accurately, and automate critical workflows to improve data security.
- A cloud drive cannot be made HIPAA compliant unless you properly configure security controls and monitor activity around data stored in the system. To ensure your organization’s cloud storage service stays compliant, be sure to regularly perform risk assessments and develop strict cybersecurity policies and procedures.
Which cloud services are not considered HIPAA-compliant?
Some cloud services cannot be made HIPAA-compliant for various reasons. Apple and iCloud, for example, cannot be HIPAA-compliant because they don’t offer a BAA for covered entities. Other services fail to provide essential integrated security capabilities, such as data classification, and, therefore, cannot be used to store ePHI.
Wheelhouse IT: Experts In HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage Provider
HIPAA compliant cloud storage is a must for healthcare providers. Wheelhouse IT can help you with your compliance needs. We offer the best in HIPAA compliant cloud storage, so you don’t have to worry about security or privacy issues. Our team of experts will make sure that all of your data is safe and secure.
You deserve peace of mind when it comes to storing sensitive information like patient records and health insurance information. And we know how important this is. Let us take care of your compliance needs so you can focus on what really matters – caring for patients and providing them with the best possible service.
Contact Wheelhouse IT today to learn more about how we can help protect your company from costly fines or, worse yet, lawsuits!