A backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan can help healthcare providers satisfy many of the data privacy requirements outlined in The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA requires healthcare practices to secure electronic protected health information (ePHI) and requires them to properly assess and manage risk—important parts of any BDR strategy. But because of stringent standards outlined by HIPAA not all solutions are suitable for healthcare. Here are five essentials you can’t do without.
HIPAA-Compliant ProvidersAccording to the Department of Health and Human Services, “The HIPAA Rules generally require that covered entities and business associates enter into contracts with their business associates to ensure that the business associates will appropriately safeguard protected health information.” This means that any vendor you select must sign an agreement stating that it will carry out a covered entity’s (e.g. healthcare practice’s) obligation regarding the HIPAA privacy rule. Vendors you work with must have firm grasp on HIPAA and should be willing to take on the associated obligations. Make sure they develop solutions with data privacy and HIPAA compliance in mind and will sign a business associates’ agreement (BAA). As you evaluate your options it’s also helpful to understand a few of HIPAA’s specific guidelines around how data should be transmitted and stored, which you can review here.
Always-Encrypted DataEncryption is a simple way to make sure that even if a data breach occurs, data will be inaccessible to those who obtain it. Since privacy is a critical part of HIPAA, be sure that backups are stored and transported in a fully encrypted state. Solutions like StorageCraft® OneXafe® Solo encrypt data backups so that data is secure whether it’s resting or in transit.
Flexible Recovery OptionsNot all healthcare providers consider the toll downtime can take on their practice. Imagine if a healthcare provider couldn’t access patient information due to down systems. Lives are at risk if patient information isn’t available, even for just a few moments. That’s why your BDR solution must include quick ways to recover systems that care providers depend on. Look for a solution that gives you the flexibility to recover a single machine locally or even an entire network remotely. You can’t afford to be down for long and your recovery strategy must account for a variety of downtime events.
Ransomware ResponseRansomware attacks are becoming more common and healthcare providers are at great risk due to their wealth of sensitive data. According to Emsisoft, in 2019 ransomware attacks hit 966 government agencies, educational establishments, and healthcare providers at a potential cost of over $7.5 billion. In order to keep data safe from ransomware plan as if you’ll be successfully attacked at some point. Of course, you should take precautions (educate users, implement firewalls and anti-virus). That’s why your BDR strategy shouldn’t just account for how you’ll store data, but how you’ll recover all your systems should ransomware encrypt files you desperately need.
Don’t Forget TestingNo BDR strategy is complete—or potentially even effective—without a plan for testing. Test your network for:
- VulnerabilityTesting network vulnerability is a great way to proactively find ways to make it more secure. Some healthcare organizations hire a third party to test their network for them.
- RecoverabilityYou might have backups but you also need a way to recover. Prioritize regular tests focused on recovery times so you can be positive they’re within tolerable parameters.
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