What Is HIPAA Compliance?
This is the standard that Covered Entities or Business Associates follow to secure demographic data, medical histories, test or laboratory results, and related Protected Health Information (PHI). Organizations that manage PHI must devise in-depth physical, process, and network security measures and implement them to ensure HIPAA Compliance.
Let’s cover the legal terms first. Covered Entities are doctors, nurses, or insurance companies who offer treatment, use, and have access to PHI in the healthcare sector. Business Associates range from IT administrators, cloud service providers, physical storage providers, accountants, attorneys, and third-party consultants who interact with PHI as they perform on behalf of Covered Entities.
If you find yourself in this list, then you would be deeply interested in today’s post.
Why Should You Be Concerned?
HIPAA Compliance is more important than ever, considering that healthcare specialists are shifting to computer-based environments involving EHR, EMR, laboratory, pharmacy, and radiology systems. Although these methods enable mobility and boost efficiency, they also increase cybersecurity vulnerabilities. So, the challenge for Covered Entities and Business Associates goes far beyond their ability to protect the privacy of individuals’ health information. They must, at the same time, adopt new policies, processes, and technologies to continuously enhance the quality of patient care.
Needless to say, there is a lot to cover. It is also one’s responsibility to come up with effective data protection solutions that protect all types of patient information without fail. With so much at stake, the inability to meet the above-mentioned list of items can prove costly in more ways than one.
Playing With Fire
Violating HIPAA rules can lead to severe consequences and hefty fines where reaching quick settlements is not always simple. 2016 alone saw HIPAA settlements amounting to a record $23m and in 2017, over 78 healthcare breaches took place with more than 10,000 health records compromised as a result of multiple non-compliance cases. The average financial penalty was $2,607,582 in 2018 which broke the record for the total penalty amounts paid.
Let’s put the spotlight on a recent case. University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) incurred a $3m fine as a result of failure to comply with HIPAA regulations. The OCR imposed the fine in response to the lack of mobile device encryption which put sensitive patient information at risk. There were two separate counts; in 2017, URMC reported a breach of PHI to the OCR after discovering the loss of an unencrypted laptop. Similarly, in 2013, the health system reported a breach after the loss of an unencrypted flash drive.
Investigations revealed that URMC did not conduct a risk analysis, leverage device controls, implement encryption and decryption mechanisms, or adopt the necessary security measures for ePHI. So, in addition to the $3m fine, URMC will carry out a corrective action plan which consists of HHS monitoring its compliance with HIPAA regulations for two years.
Take The Safe Route With ClearCube
Clearly, today’s competitive healthcare industry calls for secure and efficient access to medical information. IT departments are always under pressure to reduce operating costs, enhance service levels, and guarantee end-to-end patient data security. Managing one-size-fits-all hardware such as PCs in time and mission-critical scenarios is expensive, time-consuming, and an anxiety trigger. Valuable time is wasted in downtime and desk-diving, with professionals find themselves struggling with multiple technical support tickets. Then, we see organizations with budget constraints that are expected to meet strict HIPAA policies and processes all the same. New rules demanding the privacy of patient data have further accelerated the cost and complexity of these systems, thus adding to the challenge.
Working with ClearCube would have saved URMC the $3m in fines as our hardware and software suite is designed to help focus on business instead of IT problems. We have a proven history of custom-crafting, implementing, and improving VDI healthcare environments through our extensive industry knowledge. From patient and exam rooms to critical care and lab solutions, our HIPAA-standard virtual desktop solutions offer complete coverage. Our team has also been awarded ISO 9001:2015 Certification for our Design, Development, and Manufacturing, hence staying current on the latest compliance regulations.
How do our virtual workspaces offer a unique mix of powerful security, on-demand excess, and so much more? Let’s have a look.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
Our VDI range allows healthcare specialists to attain greater control over user endpoint devices and quicken clinician login times so they can maximize patient care and support. The platform, in general, leverages abstraction to remote desktop OSes to mobile devices. Primarily, virtualization isolates the desktop environment and application layer from an endpoint device. This enables a user to access their personal desktop through a Thin Client or Zero Client endpoint on the network without having to go through a lengthy login process.
Furthermore, combining SSO with virtualization saves valuable time and streamlines the patient care process during logins by replacing passwords, and when doctors, nurses, or IT support teams attempt to access apps. Our endpoints come with significant hardware upgrades that support faster desktops and improve overall performance to boost end UX in such scenarios. For example, our C3xPi Thin Client incorporates enhanced features like Secure Walk-Away® and integrates support for Imprivata® OneSign®. This enables users to simply swipe a badge or use a fingerprint to access apps and further strengthen the integrity of HIPAA compliance.
Secondly, in a VDI environment, the desktop OS is hosted on a centralized server in a company’s data center. Employees can simply utilize a simulated version of the desktop on their device or computer for access purposes. This eliminates the need to log into a cloud service, bring up a personal profile stored on the cloud, and log into each application individually. Any changes made to the desktop on the mobile device will be applied when a user accesses the desktop on their computer and vice versa.
A Thin or Zero Client only displays the desktop environment which a healthcare provider interacts with. No information is stored on the endpoint itself which makes it inherently secure. Moreover, unlike a PC environment, clinicians are not limited to a single device to access their apps and desktops. This is effective in the healthcare sector where make-or-break decisions are common. For this reason, they must be able to rapidly and safely log in and out of their desktops and direct their attention towards patients requiring immediate care.
Healthcare IT personnel can customize the level of security, manageability, and performance for task workers, knowledge users, and power users. Need a Thin Client for routine workloads or important multimedia access? There is something for everyone. You can facilitate growth with legacy ports and expansion features, select native support for digital displays, and maintain network adaptability with Wi-Fi and Ethernet options. You receive cloud-ready and VDI-optimized Thin Clients that are certified for leading software vendors, including Citrix, Microsoft, and VMware.
PCoIP Zero Clients
Our dual-monitor capable Zero Client devices integrate powerful PCoIP protocol technology, making them perfect for graphics-intensive apps that demand true workstation-like performance. No moving parts or OS equate to easy deployment, zero management, and no viruses.
Our leading PC Blades remove the PC from patient rooms and place them securely in the data center. Hospitals and clinics receive benefits such as:
- Improved Security. As the Blade PCs reside in a safe location, there is no need to worry about unauthorized personnel uploading or downloading information without the IT manager’s consent. Our advanced technology also ensures controlled access to equipment, hence greatly reducing the risk of damage or theft.
- Extra Workspace Room. The ability of healthcare providers to move about freely especially in dire situations can never be emphasized enough, and this is only possible with maximum space. We create a more comfortable environment by moving the heavy box PC to the data center to decrease heat and noise.
- High Availability. Doctors and nurses need solutions that demonstrate maximum flexibility, versatility, reliability and responsiveness, just as they do. As a result, station uptime is crucial in any application. If you find yourself in a traditional desktop computer setup, you know that high PC availability is not a mere matter of being only time or mission-critical. This is where the life-critical factor also comes into the picture within areas such as emergency rooms and operating theatres.
The trouble with standard PCs is their 96% system availability which does not account for much in situations that absolutely demand 99.99 or better. Getting PCs up and running is both time-consuming and stressful in case a desktop or workstation malfunctions.
Our PC Blades are equipped with highly touted features, including smart architecture, remote switching efficiencies, and robust management software. Their innovative sparing capabilities allow IT to remotely swap them to a hot spare within seconds of a failure scenario. This spares the hassle of having to visit an end user’s location or commute to a remote clinic to fix the problem.
VDI Cost Benefit Analysis
When implementing virtualization, healthcare administrators like URMC and any other institute, for that matter, must be able to achieve maximum ROI of the complete technology stack. Conduct research and use tools such as workflow analysis to best understand how you can create and increase value for your enterprise.
We recommend some best practices you can follow to reduce deployment anxiety and blunders. Approach the investment in a holistic way and work with top VDI vendors like us to shore up infrastructure as well as establish an effective disaster recovery strategy.