HIPAA Tip: The Importance of a Risk Analysis

Many businesses and organizations today move at such a rapid pace they can be unknowingly putting themselves at risk for cyber attacks, data breaches, and other unwanted intrusions. Conducting a risk analysis is a practice that allows an organization to identify and assess any potential (risk) factors that may cripple the organization. The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights launched an online tool to assist small healthcare facilities and medical practices to assess themselves. Below are several reasons why it is important for businesses and organizations to conduct risk analyses (in addition to being a HIPAA requirement):

  • Raise Awareness: Conducting a risk analysis makes an organization more aware of what can happen in the event of a cyber attack or breach. Knowing the vulnerabilities within the organization will help identify ways to reduce risks.
  • Compliance Standards: Most major organizations are required to follow a set of standards that help them run safely and efficiently while protecting their digital assets such as intellectual property, user data or patient data (PHI). One example would be the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. Compliance is a set of standards usually required for most organizations and may reduce legal trouble if a cyber attack occurs.
  • Communication and Culture: Conducting a risk analysis will encourage employees of the organization to recognize risks and report them. Organizations want all of their employees to be able to spot cyber risks and to speak up about them. Regularly conducting a risk analysis will create a security culture that will over time reduce risk.
  • Identifying Solutions: This is the most important reason to conduct a risk analysis at an organization, and to find ways to make it run more efficiently. Taking security measures such as requiring length and uniqueness on employee passwords, proper use of administrator privileges, and putting physical safeguards on hardware all help prevent risk.
  • Allocate Resources: Once a risk analysis is completed and problems have been identified, the organization can assess how to best allocate resources based on which problems are the highest risk. It will show areas that require attention and where some may already be in compliance.

HIPAA compliance isn’t a one-time checklist. It’s ongoing, programmatic in nature, and requires demonstrated reasonable diligence to stay in good standing with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Anatomy IT. can provide you peace of mind with our expert HIPAA compliance services. To learn more, contact us here.

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