Technical HIPAA compliance requires an organization-wide analysis of potential risks to ePHI in terms of its privacy, integrity, and accessibility. HIPAA requirements are especially relevant for telehealth video conferencing, EMR and EHR systems, mHealth solutions, medical imaging solutions, and IoT-enabled clinical systems.

It is paramount for healthcare providers to have a good grasp of technical HIPAA regulations and make them part of their overall strategy for software QA. A failure to comply can lead to impermissible PHI disclosures and result in hefty financial penalties for the organization.

Key stages in HIPAA compliance testing

Tech-savvy healthcare providers apply modern tools and practices to perform HIPAA compliance testing for hospital systems that deal with ePHI. The entire process can be boiled down to five key steps that cover the journey, from pre-certification consulting to QA automation.

How we can help

Oxagile combines deep expertise in the healthIT domain with robust QA processes to help medical organizations enable HIPAA compliance.

Stage 1. HIPAA-focused QA consulting

Before any HIPAA compliance testing can start, it’s crucial to perform an organization-wide audit of technologies and measures that safeguard hospital systems, networks and devices from unauthorized access and data theft. These measures typically include unique log-in credentials for hospital workstations, password protection on tablets and smartphones used by the staff, activity logs review, etc.

In addition, QA experts review the existing QA processes for bottlenecks that might be hampering overall performance.

Stage 2. Testing hospital solutions and networks against HIPAA rules

The next step deals with preparing and running test cases based on the HIPAA Security Rule requirements to check whether the hospital’s software ecosystem is able to protect ePHI security and privacy. This process typically includes:

  • Access control QA. Testing the hospital system’s user access procedures, such as user authorization and password management to make sure that only the necessary amount of private health information is accessible to authorized employees.
  • Activity monitoring QA. Ensuring that all solutions in the system provide reliable log-in monitoring and are equipped with automatic log-off for additional security.
  • Data storage and backup QA. The checks are focused on correct storage of ePHI with special attention to availability and regular backups.
  • Emergency mode QA. Checking the system’s ability to swiftly detect security breaches, generate detailed reports, and automatically activate protective measures according to the type of attack.
  • Data encryption and decryption QA. Making sure that the hospital has robust encryption protocols in place and all ePHI stays protected as it is stored and transferred within the organization.

Stage 3. Preparing detailed QA reports

The QA team generates detailed HIPAA compliance testing reports viewable via comprehensive QA dashboards to provide all stakeholders with 100% visibility and accountability. The discovered HIPAA certification-critical bugs should be accompanied by actionable QA recommendations.

Stage 4. Implementing improvement recommendations

With potential compliance issues identified, the QA team can start assisting the hospital in finding and implementing optimal solutions on the technical, physical, and administrative levels. These activities may range from developing additional security modules for the hospital’s PMS to adjusting the BYOD policy to providing technical training to the HIPAA Security officer.

Stage 5. Automating compliance QA

HIPAA compliance QA is most effective as a continuous process that involves regular monitoring of the existing and recently added medical software systems, software product enhancements or updates, as well as new integrations. Considering how time-consuming such a process can become, QA and testing automation can be the answer.

An essential step for healthcare organizations here is to carry out extensive feasibility and ROI-analysis to make sure automation is the right fit in terms of project complexity and costs. Applied correctly, automated compliance QA removes the risk of human error, cuts testing times for every new component in the system, and dramatically reduces healthcare QA costs in the medium-to-long term.

Conclusion

Considering serious violation penalties and the heightened interest in data privacy among patients, hospitals must enable full HIPAA compliance and consistently track their adherence to new, updated versions of the Act.

By setting up a compliance QA workflow in their IT departments, healthcare organizations attain a painless, reliable, and cost-effective way of keeping up with privacy regulations and providing their patients with necessary data protections.

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