Audit. The mere mention of the word can instantly stir mild to moderate panic throughout even the most diligent healthcare IT department. For a myriad of reasons, most healthcare organizations dread the idea of conducting industry mandated cybersecurity risk assessments. Compliance evaluations are time-consuming, disrupting normal corporate activities and potentially exposing network security risks and compromises (aka shining a negative light on their operations).
Consistent Audits And Cybersecurity Risk Assessments Are A Good Thing (Yes, Really)
Sure, an outside review at your healthcare organization does increase the chance of exposing a hole in your existing cybersecurity and data loss prevention efforts. However, consistent inspections are more than required. In today’s ever-evolving cyber criminal terrain, they are necessary. Using audits to demonstrate (and maintain) regulatory compliance plays a pivotal role in building stakeholder confidence, establishing organizational transparency, and proactively acknowledging vendor security and data breach concerns. Most importantly, the audit process can even prove a major service differentiator for your facility, granting an invaluable opportunity to confirm with your customers that you prioritize network security and the protection of their data at all times.
Five Tips To Ensure You’re Ready For Your Next Audit
Preparation is the best way to mitigate risk, stress, and worry throughout an audit. Go into the process armed with information on a few of the most common items healthcare companies of every size often overlook when getting ready for their next risk assessment. Many IT departments don’t:
Refresh On Current Protocol
Many healthcare companies fail to familiarize themselves with current healthcare audit practices. Some IT departments feel they are too busy to take the time needed to get up-to-speed on existing mandates and requirements, while others assume that nothing has changed since the last time their organization was evaluated. Refresh yourself (and your team) on the processes, regulations, and controls outlined in the HITECH Act to recognize exactly what HIPAA compliance entails.
Establish Review Focus
Under the threat of a pending audit, many healthcare IT departments assume what they need to address and change before the process begins, ultimately going far wider than what is actually required, while simultaneously running the risk of overlooking mandatory components. Establish an initiative focus before you start modifying your current cybersecurity strategies and practices. Understanding exactly what will be addressed allows you to break down the scope of the assessment into easily attainable goals and objectives to optimize success.
Develop A Paper Trail
Proper documentation is everything during the audit process. It’s not enough to follow protocol with your network security and secure email efforts. You also have to provide extensive documentation on every action and initiative performed to prove that it actually occurred. Work with your team to create a process that prioritizes updating and maintaining all documentation requirements, including where your organization’s ePHI (electronic protected health information) resides, potential system risks, and plan for protecting ePHI in the event of a data breach.
Conduct Mock Assessments And Audits
Audits deliver a multitude of significant benefits for healthcare organizations across every specialty. Don’t wait for your scheduled third-party evaluations to tap into the power of compliance and risk assessments. Periodically run mock inspections within your organization to proactively unearth and resolve potential privacy and security weaknesses, so you’re fully prepared by the time of the official audit.
Embrace The Benefits
Most healthcare executives view an inspection as an adversarial event explicitly designed to highlight performance gaps and security lapses. However, modern cybercriminals and their constant threat of uber-sophisticated hacks are the actual enemies of network security. Work with your team to change the overall perception of the review process, recognizing that all findings (even negative ones) can have a positive impact on your organization’s ability to both serve customers and protect their sensitive data. Fortified Health Security delivers customized cybersecurity solutions and strategies for healthcare organizations in every vertical. Contact us today to learn more about how our unique approach to risk assessments and audits can demonstrate compliance and stand out in the market from the competition.