Protecting sensitive customer data, especially medical and financial information, is an important job and it’s one that no business should be taking lightly. That’s because today’s consumers are well aware of the long term impact of identity theft and other data breaches.
Another reason for taking every precaution against hackers is that the Federal government is also pretty serious about this. Under the terms of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1995, businesses that handle consumer medical data are required to take some very specific steps to protect that data. That means that HIPAA compliance is not something you want to play around with.
So what’s the best way of actually getting HIPAA compliant? Unless you’re a very large healthcare entity, such as a hospital or insurance company, you’ll probably need to hire outside help navigating the maze of HIPAA-oriented regulations.
If this situation sounds familiar to you, here are a few tips for getting your HIPAA consultant search off on the right foot.
Why Getting HIPAA Compliant is Important
No company should need the Federal government to tell them that consumer data protection is a big deal, but all too many require exactly that.
These companies aren’t particularly swayed by the fact that identity theft costs American consumers more than billion every year; and that number is growing rapidly. If you, or someone you know, has had their personal information stolen online you know exactly how devastating an experience it can be.
If you follow the news, you also know that big time security lapses can be a financial and public relations disaster for businesses that fail to protect banking and medical information. Target, an American retail store, recently suffered a PR disaster when hackers stole millions of bank account numbers and ATM passwords from their customers.
To help get back in their customers’ good graces, Target gave their customers an additional 10% off purchases during the weekend before Christmas. That’s a pretty hefty price to pay for lax security, especially over one of the biggest retail weekends of the year.
Finding a Quality Compliance Consultant
The sad thing about Target’s story is that it didn’t have to happen at all. Getting compliant with network security standards, including HIPAA, is not all that tough. In fact, most large companies like Target have all the resources they need for getting compliant right in their own IT departments.
Smaller companies, however, will probably want to hire out a consultant like SecurityMetrics to help them get to this level of data protection. SecurityMetrics HIPAA compliance services are designed to fit a wide range of budgets and the company stands by its work over the long term.
We strongly suggest that small businesses spend a little extra cash on a service contract to insure that their HIPAA compliance remains up to date in the months and years to come. The last thing you want to do is to lose a civil lawsuit because your HIPAA compliance was not up to date.
HIPAA is a broad and very useful set of regulations that’s good for consumers and business owners alike. Business owners who ignore HIPAA do so at their own peril.