• Home
  • Posts
  • HIPAA Compliant Software – 5 Ways to Ensure HIPAA Compliance

HIPAA Compliant Software – 5 Ways to Ensure HIPAA Compliance

HIPAA Compliance Software | CloudAlly
Try our Backup Interactive Product Tour

What is HIPAA Compliant Software?

With the rise of cybersecurity threats and increased regulations around data protection, it’s crucial for organizations to ensure that their data is safe and compliant. One regulation that companies need to comply with is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This federal law sets standards for protecting sensitive patient information in the healthcare industry. HIPAA compliance is mandatory for any organization that handles protected health information (PHI), including electronic PHI.

So, what does this mean for businesses using Microsoft Office 365? As a cloud-based platform, Office 365 offers many benefits such as improved collaboration and productivity. However, this also means that your data is stored in the cloud, making it vulnerable to cyber threats. To ensure HIPAA compliance for your Office 365 data, it’s important to implement additional security measures. This includes setting up strong access controls and encryption to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access. It’s also essential to regularly backup your Office 365 data to ensure quick recovery in case of data loss or corruption.

5 Ways to Ensure HIPAA Compliance for Office 365 Data

#1 Implement Strong Access Controls

Access controls are essential for protecting PHI in Office 365. This includes setting up strong password policies, using multi-factor authentication, and limiting access to only those who need it. This will prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive information and reduce the risk of data breaches.

#2 Encrypt Sensitive Information

Encryption is a crucial security measure for protecting PHI in the cloud. With Office 365, you can use built-in encryption features or implement third-party encryption tools to protect your data both at rest and in transit. This ensures that even if your data is intercepted, it cannot be accessed without the proper decryption key.

#3 Enable Auditing and Monitoring

HIPAA regulations require organizations to monitor and track all access and activity related to PHI. With Office 365, you can enable auditing and monitoring features to keep track of who is accessing your data, what changes are being made, and if any unauthorized attempts are being made. This not only helps with compliance but also provides an additional layer of security.

#4 Implement Data Loss Prevention

Data loss prevention (DLP) is a crucial aspect of protecting PHI in the cloud. Office 365 offers DLP policies that allow you to identify sensitive information such as social security numbers or patient names and prevent them from being shared outside of your organization. This ensures that your data remains within your control and cannot be accidentally or maliciously shared.

#5 Have a Data Backup Plan in Place

In the event of a cyber attack or natural disaster, having a data backup plan in place can be a lifesaver. Make sure to regularly back up your PHI and other critical data to a secure off-site location. This will ensure that even if your system is compromised, you can still access important information. HIPAA also mandates “demonstrable recoverability”

Configuring Office 365 Email for HIPAA Compliance

Microsoft has robust security features necessary to help protect information stored on their servers. The company offers two-factor security authentication to help keep your accounts secure. In short, Office 365 is HIPAA compliant.

As an Office 365 user, there are some things you must do to take advantage of their compliance standing. All companies using Office 365, must complete a business associate agreement, or BAA, with Microsoft. Once in place, Microsoft, for their part, will do everything in their power to ensure your protected health documents are secure.

After signing a BAA, Microsoft helps you set user emails to comply with HIPAA regulations using the Exchange Online Protection program. Only administrators can configure these settings, as they are reached from the Exchange Admin Center page. Once on the Admin page, select Compliance management, then select Data Loss Prevention. From here click on the “+” sign and select New DLP policy from the template. Scroll until you find HIPAA and choose template.

By default, Office 365’s HIPAA rules scan messages for Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) number and Social Security numbers. However, if you need more coverage, you can add:

  • US Passport number
  • US Bank Account
  • US Driver’s License
  • US Individual Taxpayer Identification number

To add any of these items to your HIPAA configuration, just select them on the template. You can also customize rules to add fields such as Date of Birth.

Once enacted, Microsoft scans each email for selected sensitive information. In the event of an incident, Microsoft reports it as dictated by their standard notification procedures to the system administrators.

Office 365 HIPAA Compliance Is Not Enough

Using an email service that is HIPAA compliant, like Office 365, is not sufficient. Microsoft is only responsible for maintaining security on their end of the agreement. It is up to business owners to use best practices to protect customer information and comply with HIPAA regulation. Adding two-factor security authentication is just one step to help protect your files in an HIPAA regulated situation. Using encrypted email when sending data contributes to protecting your customers from potential information loss. Another step you can take is limit who on your staff can send emails concerning patient information. Limiting who can access and edit client files is also another way to protect sensitive data.

Patient consent forms, which must be signed for health information to be shared with anyone other than the patient, are the responsibility of your office. Microsoft does not take responsibility for this document. It is up to your staff to obtain and retain written permission. Under HIPAA regulation, this agreement is obtainable via email. However, you must inform the patient of any potential risks they may have using email to communicate sensitive data.

Properly managing where protected health information is the most important thing you can do to maintain HIPAA regulation. While mobile devices often come with Office 365, it can only help to increase the risk others gaining access to patient information. Misplaced laptops and cell phones can lead to stolen documents if saved internally.

Having a cloud backup in place can act as a barrier to malicious data loss. Storing information in the cloud keeps it from being stored on the hard drive of a mobile device that is easily lost. However, if you choose to store your information in the cloud, make sure that you choose HIPAA compliant backup to adhere to government regulation.

CloudAlly offers HIPAA compliant cloud backup that is also ISO 27001 certified and GDPR compliant. We offer BAAs (Business Associate Agreements) with all clients who ask for them. Our Office 365 backs up email, calendar, tasks, and contact data.

Try us free for 15 days

Try a hands-on Interactive Product Tour

Right Here and Right Now!

Start a Free 14-day Backup Trial

Get Start
AWS Backup | Full Account Recovery | Pay-as-you-go

Most Popular Articles

Thought Leader Podcasts

Get Insights from the leading IT influencers

Try our Interactive Product Tour

Right Here. Right Now

Book a 1-1
M365 Backup Demo
AWS Backup | Full Account Recovery | Pay-as-you-go