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Kharmela Mindanao

By: Kharmela Mindanao on April 9th, 2024

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10 Ways MSPs Help with HIPAA Compliance

Managed IT Services | HIPAA | Compliance

Do you need help keeping up with healthcare data security and meeting strict rules like HIPAA?

You’re not alone. Many healthcare providers find keeping patient information safe almost impossible as cyber threats increase.

This is where managed IT service providers (MSPs) step in.

For example, Intelligent Technical Solutions (ITS) specializes in healthcare agencies’ IT needs. Our in-depth knowledge and extensive experience as an MSP for over twenty years have helped us see the clear difference between organizations with and without managed IT.

We invited Edward Griffin, ITS Cybersecurity Executive, to unveil the multifaceted benefits of partnering with an MSP if you’re a healthcare organization.

By the end of this article, you’ll know how MSPs improve compliance, thereby building patient trust and strengthening your organization.

1. Conduct risk assessment and management.   

risk assessment and managementMSPs meticulously assess risks in your IT environment, pinpointing weak spots and crafting tailored solutions for risk reduction.   

This forward-thinking strategy guarantees that you consistently adhere to HIPAA’s comprehensive safeguards—administrative, physical, and technical—thus safeguarding Protected Health Information (PHI) from unauthorized access or breaches.  

"HIPAA compliance isn't just about ticking boxes,” Griffin explained. “It's fundamentally about protecting patient data."  

2. Encrypt data based on the latest industry standards.   

encrypted data-3Encrypting patient data both in transit and at rest is a cornerstone of HIPAA compliance. With their experience protecting data from highly regulated industries like finance, healthcare, and law, MSPs must always keep up to date with encryption protocols.   

“An MSP is going to come in to make sure that we’re using trustworthy or high-confidence systems to store data,” he said. “We won’t store it in some unsecured file server where we can’t guarantee data safety.”  

This ensures you get top-notch data security without investing in high-level IT training.   

3. Implement and test disaster recovery plans.   

a disaster recovery plan on a dart boardWith their extensive experience, MSPs create and execute disaster recovery plans, understanding nuances that might be missed if you were to create one on your own.  

Due to the importance of disaster recovery plans, it’s best to have an expert on hand when crafting them, especially when you might need to declare an emergency and begin recovery operations. 

4. Have systematic updates and patches.   

systematic updates and patchesKeeping software updated is also vital for security, but with multiple fires to put out, healthcare organizations often need help staying on top of security updates. Meanwhile, an MSP without a systematic and efficient way of patching workstations would be out of business. 

They have a rigorously tested way of installing, implementing, and troubleshooting updates, which will help you close exploitable vulnerabilities, thus maintaining a secure environment for patient data.

HIPAA Compliance Checklist

5. Verify and strengthen access controls.   

access controlsImplementing stringent access controls ensures that only authorized personnel can access sensitive patient information. MSPs tailor access management systems to your organization’s needs and will enforce zero-trust data policies to safeguard against unauthorized data access.  

6. Provide 24/7 monitoring and consistent reports. 

24 hours and 7 days a week supportHIPAA compliance also requires continuous monitoring of networks and systems for suspicious activities. MSPs are uniquely capable of doing this, often with around-the-clock Network and Security Operations Centers (NOCs and SOCs) with advanced monitoring tools to detect and respond to threats in real time. 

7. Conduct effective security awareness training.   

Human error is the #1 risk to data security. MSPs offer comprehensive security awareness training programs for your staff, educating them on HIPAA regulations, cybersecurity best practices, and how to handle patient information securely. 

security awareness

8. Implement stringent vendor management.   

stringent vendor managementMSPs manage third-party vendors and ensure they comply with HIPAA regulations. This includes verifying BAAs (Business Associate Agreements) to ensure the third party’s compliance. Naturally, MSPs also sign BAAs for healthcare organizations.    

Overall, they conduct due diligence and monitor vendor practices to prevent breaches that could compromise patient data.   

RELATED: 9 Questions to Ask New Vendors About Their Cybersecurity  

9. Craft effective cybersecurity policies.   

effective cybersecurity policiesYou know what they say: you always fall to the level of your systems. If you don’t have effective cybersecurity rules your patients and team members need to follow, it doesn’t matter how much you invest in tech – you’ll never be able to comply with HIPAA regulations.   

Luckily, MSPs are experts in cybersecurity frameworks and policies. They can easily assist in creating clear, actionable policies and help you go above and beyond the HIPAA regulations.   

Griffin shared: “We have a client in the San Francisco Bay Area. They provide healthcare and social programs for a certain population of patients. They’re going after a certification called HITRUST, which will basically demonstrate their HIPAA compliance.”  

Because they hired IT specialists, their journey towards HITRUST certification has been smooth sailing. 

10. Conduct efficient incident response.   

efficient incident responseIn a data breach, swift action is required to mitigate damage and comply with HIPAA breach notification rules. MSPs provide incident response services, managing the situation effectively and ensuring timely reporting to the necessary parties. They also offer detailed reporting for compliance audits and reviews.  

Ready to find the best MSP for HIPAA compliance? 

As a healthcare agency, your mission extends beyond providing exceptional patient care; it encompasses ensuring the utmost security and confidentiality of patient data.   

In an era of stringent regulations, the question isn’t whether you can afford to partner with an MSP, but whether you can afford not to.  

Take a moment to assess your current HIPAA compliance status. Are there gaps in your cybersecurity armor? Could your policies and training use a refresh? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it may be time to consult with an MSP.   

But now you must ask yourself how you find the best MSP for your organization’s compliance needs.   

As veterans in the MSP space, we have unique insight into helping people find the best MSP fit for them. This insight is rooted in our deep understanding of both the technology and business aspects of IT. If you want our help with your agency’s regulatory compliance, download our HIPAA Compliance Checklist or schedule a meeting with our experts. 

HIPAA Compliance Checklist