In the healthcare industry, failure to comply with HIPAA can result in hefty fines, civil and criminal penalties, and a loss of business for your MSP—which is why it’s important to invest in the appropriate software to help you in your compliance journey.
Managed services providers (MSPs) have to be aware of more than the requirements and regulations they face in their own industry—they have to understand regulatory requirements in their customers’ industries as well. For example, failure to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) can result in huge fines from even an accidental HIPAA violation, including unauthorized access or use, in addition to breach.
This guide will discuss the HIPAA regulatory framework and emphasize the importance of appropriate administrative, technical, and organizational measures that bolster technologies required by HIPAA for MSPs.
What is HIPAA compliance?
HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which was passed in 1996 in an effort to improve healthcare system interoperability and more secure storage and usage of patient data. As healthcare services and health insurance became increasingly advanced, more data was being stored, transferred, and updated digitally. While this provided a number of benefits, such as making administrative and care delivery activities more efficient, it also posed a significant threat to patient privacy. Digital patient health records and personal information risk being hacked, leaked, or even modified without authorization.
HIPAA was passed to make healthcare insurance safer for everyone involved, helping to ensure that patients’ personal data is secured and its disclosure regulated. HIPAA includes the Privacy Rule and Security Rule, which applies to all protected health information (PHI) and determines how the privacy and integrity of health data should be preserved.
Why is HIPAA compliance important for MSPs?
As already mentioned, the department of Health and Human Services can legally enforce HIPAA regulations, requiring companies to potentially pay huge fines for failure to comply. Therefore, it is paramount that IT departments understand how HIPAA affects their technology environments and avoid accidental violations resulting in significant financial penalties.
Knowing how to implement administrative, physical, and technical safeguards required by HIPAA regulations can also help companies maintain confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their personal data more effectively. Ultimately, understanding administrative and technical implementations outlined in the Privacy and Security Rules better enables MSPs to their company and customer data over the long-term.
It’s also important for MSPs to understand HIPAA to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and better serve healthcare customers subject to HIPAA obligations.
Helpful MSP tools for working toward HIPAA compliance
For MSPs who want to demonstrate strong security for their customers, there are a number of software options on the market that can help:
SolarWinds® N-central® is an all-in-one tool available as an on-premises or hosted solution. This suite of tools helps your customers work toward demonstrating HIPAA compliance by giving you access to advanced security solutions designed to protect your customers. A key benefit of SolarWinds N-central is it allows you to manage and monitor your IT systems through a single interface, making achieving and demonstrating strong security a much simpler process.
SolarWinds N-central can monitor and manage Windows, Mac, Linux, virtual machines, and network devices. The solution’s security capabilities include endpoint detection and response, which helps MSPs prevent, detect, and respond to both existing and evolving threats. Additional security features include automated rollback, policy-driven automation, near real-time file analysis, signatureless approach, behavioral artificial intelligence engines, forensic analysis, offline endpoint protection, and autonomous threat responses.
While helping you and your customers work toward HIPAA compliance, N-central also offers a number of other capabilities that make it a highly cost-effective and versatile solution. For MSPs looking to scale their business with one, powerful solution, SolarWinds N-central offers remote monitoring, network topology mapping, patch management, and much more. If you are interested in giving N-central a try, a 30-day free trial is available.
Like N-central, SolarWinds RMM is an all-in-one solution that includes security and backup capabilities designed to help MSPs work toward compliance. SolarWinds RMM assists MSPs in efficiently securing, maintaining, and improving customer IT systems, all from a single dashboard. This centralized approach helps keep customer information organized and secure. The dashboards included in SolarWinds RMM are simple, dynamic, and user-friendly, highlighting issues so your technicians can manage their time in the most productive way.
The solution’s backup features include True Delta, a backup accelerator, bare metal protection, virtual and continuous disaster recovery, and bandwidth throttling. This tool also offers highly advanced security for your IT systems, providing private encryption keys with end-to-end encryption, advanced encryption standards, centrally managed antivirus, and endpoint detection and response.
To mitigate the likelihood of customer data being compromised in a breach, SolarWinds RMM also offers patch management, powerful web protection, and data-breach risk intelligence—all of which go a long way in demonstrating compliance during audits and investigations. A 30-day free trial of SolarWinds RMM is available for interested MSPs.
While no software can make you fully HIPAA compliant, SolarWinds Backup can bolster your HIPAA compliance strategy. This tool has been designed with HIPAA compliance in mind and features strong encryption, helping you keep medical records secure on-premises and in the cloud. You can choose between AES 256-bit or 448-bit Blowfish encryption for optimal security.
With this tool, backups are encrypted at the business site and stored securely in the cloud. Data can only be decrypted during recovery. Data is stored in one of SolarWinds’ global data centers, all of which are either ISO-certified or SSAE-compliant. Every data center benefits from 24/7 physical security. SolarWinds Backup also assists with HIPAA’s administrative requirements by giving you the ability to use a private encryption key only the backup administrator knows, helping prevent unauthorized access.
One of the most important HIPAA rules regarding medical records relates to retention periods. Although retention requirements vary based on record type, SolarWinds Backup provides long-term retention via a data archive, allowing you to keep data stored securely. To learn more, access a 30-day free trial of SolarWinds Backup here.
HIPAA requires the maintenance of relevant policies and procedures. You should keep written security policies and procedures to demonstrate compliance. SolarWinds Passportal and IT Documentation Manager can help MSPs demonstrate record retention requirements pursuant to HIPAA.
This tool offers a full IT documentation management solution, enabling you to keep documentation organized for quick reference when necessary. Passportal also functions as a robust password management solution, storing company and customer passwords in an encrypted vault. The vault is protected by role-based permissions and multifactor authentication, helping ensure that confidential credentials (and thus, confidential customer data) are kept secure. A demo of Passportal is available for MSPs interested in learning how it works.
HIPAA compliance certification for MSPs
As this guide has hopefully made clear, no software is able to achieve full HIPAA compliance on your behalf. However, with the right tools at your disposal, the process of working toward HIPAA compliance requirements can be less complicated. The tools on this list can help you ensure your company and customer data is stored securely and regulated appropriately. Not only can this offering help your MSP and its customers avoid hefty fines, it can also help you edge out the competition by providing trustworthy security measures.
The purpose of this article is to help organizations understand how SolarWinds MSP technology may be utilized to help comply with certain HIPAA requirements. This document is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice or to determine how HIPAA may apply to you and your organization. We encourage you to work with a legally qualified professional to discuss HIPAA, how it applies specifically to your organization, and how best to ensure compliance. SolarWinds MSP makes no warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information contained herein.