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HIPAA Compliance in the Era of Cybersecurity: Five Worthwhile Reads

It's no shock that the healthcare industry is routinely a target of cyber-thieves and even state-sponsored hackers. In reality, stolen medical records are worth significantly more in criminal circles than payment cards—making them all the more attractive to those malicious actors.

HIPAA Compliance in the Era of Cybersecurity: Five Worthwhile Reads

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to fully comprehend how HIPAA applies to cybersecurity. As technology advances, the digital landscape evolves, requiring us to stay one step ahead if we want to protect patient health information. This requires an extra effort from both the healthcare sector and their experts in HIPAA compliance when crafting a security policy that protects sensitive data.

The first step is figuring out which information you have access to, what systems are storing it, and which protocols are in place to keep it secure while transmitting or at rest. Crucially, carrying out a comprehensive HIPAA Security Risk Assessment is necessary to shield our resources from potential threats. According to the HIPAA Security Rule, covered entities and business associates must assess risks.

What is HIPAA Compliance?

HIPAA is an abbreviation that refers to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA helps to set the standard for protecting sensitive patient data. Organizations dealing with protected health information are required to have physical, network, and process security measures in place. The process must be followed to ensure that they are HIPAA compliant.
Institutions that provide treatment, payment, and operations in healthcare and have access to patient information are required to be HIPAA compliant. Entities like subcontractors and related business associates are also required to comply with legislation.
HIPAA Compliance in the Era of Cybersecurity

Healthcare institutions experience a lot of challenges when it comes to data security. That’s considering that they must abide by the directives of HIPAA when handling protected health information (PHI).

You must, however, remember that HIPAA laws were established long before the age of cybersecurity. This means that the laws may not always provide the best safeguards. In fact, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives indicated that HIPAA isn't enough to prevent data breaches. In certain situations, however, there are reduced cybersecurity defenses.


The Healthcare Sector is a Target For Cyber Criminals

Healthcare has continued to be a prime target for cybercriminals because it’s an industry that relies heavily on technology. It’s also one of the most sensitive industries when it comes to security and privacy. The data produced by patients, medical devices, and medical professionals is highly valuable to hackers.
Note that the healthcare industry is one of the world’s largest industries. In the United States, for instance, this industry was estimated to have been worth $808 billion in 2021, with 65 percent of the industry’s revenue having come from patient care.
These statistics make the sector a lucrative target for hackers who want to extract data from organizations. On the black market, stolen health records can be sold at ten times more value compared to stolen credit card numbers.
You may wonder, so why has the health industry become the primary target for cybercriminals? These attacks are because of the growing demand for patients’ data and outdated technology.
There are fewer attacks when it comes to modern healthcare technology. In addition to X-ray machines, defibrillators are also important medical devices. That’s because online security and patient’s data are at risk with such devices. Note that these machines don’t store patients’ data. However, cyber attackers can use them to attack a server.
In the worst case scenario, hackers can take over a medical device, which would hinder medical workers from providing lifesaving care.

Interoperability Push Can Encroach Upon Compliance

It can be challenging to maintain compliance when striving for interoperability. However, with careful consideration of the steps required and a desire to keep up with the latest technology advancements, we can successfully navigate this delicate balancing act.

By actively engaging in the process and making thoughtful decisions at each stage, we can ensure our compliance while simultaneously opening up opportunities through interoperability.

The U.S Department of Health and Human Services has done a significant push for interoperability. This push has been done through the submission of new proposed rules. The rules are meant to spur innovation and competition by giving patients and providers easy access to health information.
When it comes to the implications of HIPAA compliance, most healthcare organizations are able to comply with the mandates of HIPAA. This is with regards to the collections, storage, and sharing of data. As interoperability becomes a bigger focus, it can encroach upon compliance measures. Worse yet, the need for access and HIPAA compliance doesn’t equate to being protected from cybercrimes.

Can HIPAA Strengthen Cybersecurity?

With increasing attention to the public safety concerning cyber security, compliance with HIPAA rules can help give a sense of safety and trust in services. By implementing appropriate technical, physical, and administrative safeguards, organizations can ensure that they are protecting patient data and keeping it secure from potential cyber threats.

The implementation of such measures will help in protecting not only the data but also the reputation of the organization.

Following these requirements is certainly a good first step. However, it cannot provide comprehensive cybersecurity. That’s considering that healthcare data now extends far beyond health information systems.
Keep in mind that healthcare information is part of the Big Data revolution. It also exists in a range of different digital ecosystems.
Much of the sharing of healthcare big data includes de-identified records, however, this does not remove the cybersecurity risk. The risk is still inherent when dealing with protected health information and there are so many ways “in” for cybercriminals.

Reasons Why HIPAA Rules Aren’t Enough in Combating Cybercrime

HIPAA rules are an important part of protecting private health information, but they aren’t enough in the face of the ever-evolving cybercrime landscape. Cybercriminals are constantly inventing new methods of attack and data theft, making them difficult to defend against. While HIPAA rules provide an essential baseline of security, they don’t do enough to protect health care systems from sophisticated cyber attacks.

Furthermore, these rules are extremely complex and often are not fully understood by those charged with ensuring their application. This can lead to serious data breaches and compromises in the event of successful cyberattacks. To truly protect against cybercrime, health care organizations must go beyond HIPAA compliance and implement additional security measures.

These may include additional encryption of data, increased monitoring, use of firewalls, employee training and backup processes. Each of these measures provides a layer of security that can stop potential cybercriminals before they can steal or damage sensitive information.

Cybersecurity Supports HIPAA Compliance

Healthcare institutions shouldn’t look at cybersecurity and compliance as separate entities. They should instead see them as two concepts running parallel to one another. Remember that a strong cybersecurity program supports compliance.
The healthcare sector needs to develop a holistic approach to healthcare security. That’s because the experts in this sector can’t afford to neglect cybersecurity nor compliance. It’s important that the two are paired together in a secure network that protects data and the organization’s reputation.


Thanks to government-supported incentives, a lot of healthcare providers have already adopted electronic health records. The integration of the new systems will possibly increase cyberattack vectors. As such, healthcare organizations must take measures in protecting confidential patient information.
With a rapidly evolving digital landscape and increasingly sophisticated cyber threats, HIPAA compliance is an essential component of keeping data safe. These five texts provide valuable insights into the complexities of HIPAA compliance and how to remain compliant while addressing the latest security challenges.

As cyberattacks become ever more complex and ubiquitous, organizations should take every opportunity to stay up to date on the best practices for protecting sensitive information and ensuring that those charged with upholding HIPAA standards are well informed about changes in regulations. With these five reads as a solid foundation, you can remain secure in a quickly shifting climate.