HITRUST CSF is a certification often required by any health organization that routinely handles protected health information. HITRUST stands for Health Information Trust Alliance and it combines many necessary security standards such as; HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability), HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health), PCI (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), and several others.
In recent years, healthcare companies have been targeted by hackers looking for lucrative weaknesses for cyber-attacks. They can use the protected information of patients to create phishing email scams, install ransomware, and other shady activities. One of the largest attacks in 2018 impacted more than 75,000 records in the federal Affordable Care Act. As you can see, even government healthcare entities are at risk for cyber attacks.
The frightening thing is, hackers continue to get smarter all the time. That means that not only do we need to create data security, but we must also always be updating that security and fighting to stay ahead of the technology. A yearly certification that ensures health information protections are uniformly in place is necessary because data is often transmitted from one company or organization to another in order to conduct routine business.
HITRUST created a compliance framework in the healthcare industry that is unlike any others. It is now the most commonly applied security framework in the US. It helps protect patient information, lowers healthcare company’s risk and helps maintain faith between consumers and health companies. If you are unfamiliar with HITRUST, here are some interesting facts that you may not have known.
1. Health Information Breaches Are Expensive
HITRUST helps to eliminate data breaches. A data breach is the unintentional release of protected information which could be done through nefarious hacking or accidentally by the corporation itself. In 2018 over 15 million health records were breached and that number is expected to hit 25 million by the end of 2019. According to Healthcare Weekly, health information data breaches can cost an average of $380 per record. Depending on how many records are impacted, that can an average of $7.35 million dollars per incident. Not only is there an immediate financial impact but a large scale data breach can also cause patients to lose trust and go elsewhere for their treatment. Each year the risk grows, and data breaches get more and more costly, adding to the already inflated costs of healthcare in America.
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2. HITRUST Isn’t Just For Hospitals
All companies that collect, store or transmit patient health information are required to be compliant with certain security standards (HIPPA, NIST, PCI, FTC, COBIT, and others). Any company that touches patient records will need HITRUST certification, according to Digital Authority Partners. This includes hospitals, insurance companies, doctor offices, pharmacies, and any vendors in the health sector.
3. You Can Gain Trust And Credibility With HITRUST
With data breaches constantly in the news, consumers are more aware than ever of the dangers present and associated with their personal, health and financial information. When looking for a healthcare company they can trust, they will check to see what certifications you hold that assures them you are compliant with all state and federal regulations. BuyOnlineRegular.com even recommends you printing your HITRUST certification on your marketing materials. It proves that you are listing to consumer concerns and are working to earn their trust.
While we can assign a dollar amount to data leaks, you can’t really put a price tag on consumer confidence. It is invaluable. Data breaches can quickly become a public relations nightmare as word travels across news outlets and social media networks. A big enough breach can bring down an entire company over financial losses, loss of public trust and lawsuits or government sanctions.
4. HITRUST Can Save You Time On Multiple Required Audits
Healthcare companies are highly regulated and get audited often by various agencies to make sure they comply with all statutes. According to Tech Media Guide, the framework set up by HITRUST will save you time during these audits because of the efficient way it stores and handles documentation. It creates a repeatable process that ensures you have the data you need at your fingertips. Shorter audits will save you a lot of money in the long run. Sometimes people question if HIPPA compliance is good enough to prove these standards are being met, but HITRUST is far more complex than HIPPA. While HIPPA is a more well-known acronym, HITRUST is the gold standard for data protection.
5. Obtaining HITRUST Certification Is A Big Deal
HITRUST certifications are not handed out left and right, you have to work for it. This process makes sure that the highest possible standards are being met. You need to adopt a Common Security Framework and keep it updated frequently. You will also be required to create hundreds of policies and procedures, document them, implement them and audit them. The certification process can take up to 8 weeks or longer. It also isn’t cheap, this major investment though can be the difference between your company being in business or not being in business. The direct costs associated with HITRUST certification can be between $60,000 to $120,000 with an additional indirect cost of $100,000 to $160,000 for manhours. The massive and expensive undertaking will ensure that poorly managed companies that don’t care about consumer’s security get locked out of the playing field. Obtaining HITRUST certification shows your strong commitment to data security.
HITRUST compliance is a basic requirement at this point, with all 5 of the major healthcare payers requiring the certification in order to do business with them. These large payers and more than 90 of the smaller payers are calling for all of the business associates to obtain HITRUST certification. On the plus side, getting certified requires you to do so much organizational work upfront that it is easily repeatable for future certifications.
Author bio: Pranjal Bora is the Head of Development and Compliance at Digital Authority Partners and a veterna in healthcare digital strategy.