3 Reasons You Need a HIPAA Disaster Recovery Plan

by | Nov 21, 2016

Find out why your organization needs a HIPAA disaster recovery plan

If your organization handles sensitive patient information, you are required by law to comply with federal HIPAA regulations. HIPAA, which stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was created in 1996 to ensure people would be able to keep their health insurance coverage in-between jobs and make sure their personal health information remained confidential.

Years ago it was common for hospitals and other HIPAA compliant health care organizations to focus on their daily operations instead of a disaster plan. Now, more leaders want to prepare a disaster recovery plan beforehand that will restore and protect their patient’s data during a natural disaster or system failure. Below are three detailed reasons why you should develop a HIPAA disaster recovery plan.

Reason #1: You Must Create a HIPAA Disaster Recovery Plan to Comply With Federal Law

According to the Department of Health & Human Services, all HIPAA compliant organizations must create a disaster recovery plan to comply with the Administrative Safeguards section of the HIPAA Security Rule. This means you must implement a contingency plan that will allow patients to have access to their electronic protected health information (or ePHI) regardless if there is an emergency. Since the government does not reveal specific guidelines for how your organization should keep the patient’s information private and secure during an emergency, it is up to you to develop a plan. Noncompliance with the law can result in jail time or excessive fines.

Reason #2: A HIPAA Disaster Recovery Plan Will Give Employees Clear and Detailed Instructions on What to Do During An Emergency

Imagine that your office building caught on fire over night and every computer was damaged. Or maybe a new nurse accidentally deleted sensitive data while they were in the training process. Although it would be normal for your employees to be scared or alarmed during these types of emergency situations, there is a greater chance they will be able to remain calm and in control if they follow your organization’s HIPPAA disaster recovery plan.

This is why it is important for every employee to understand the recovery protocol before a natural disaster occurs. The plan should give clear and detailed step-by-step instructions on how to restore and protect patient data without violating privacy and security laws. Just remember to clearly state which employee or job position is responsible for which task and how it should be completed in the HIPAA-compliant disaster recovery plan. When every employee understands their role, there will be less confusion and mayhem during an emergency and your organization can operate more efficiently.

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Reason #3: A HIPAA Disaster Recovery Plan Will Protect Your Patients

Your patients should never fear that their information will be compromised during an emergency or system failure. Their health and the quality of service provided by the organization should also never be altered or disrupted due to external events. Remember to explain how their data will be restored or moved according to the HIPAA disaster recovery plan.

It is very important for your organization to be prepared to withstand any natural disaster that may interrupt operations or lead to HIPAA non-compliance. There is also a greater chance that you will encounter more patients that need help during the time of a natural disaster if you run a hospital or clinic, so the more prepared you are the better.

For more information about our disaster recovery solutions, please contact us today. At Invenio IT, we have experience helping HIPAA-compliant organizations prepare for natural disasters, system failures, and other events that could put patient’s electronic health information at risk. We can discuss your organization’s needs and make sure your HIPAA information is never compromised by creating policies and procedures that will mitigate any security risk.

Dale Shulmistra is a Business Continuity Specialist at Invenio IT, responsible for shaping the company’s technology initiatives -- selecting, designing, implementing & supporting business continuity solutions to bolster client operational efficiencies and eliminate downtime.

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