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The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA for short, was founded to safeguard patients' health information and medical history by enforcing a set of rigorous and evolving compliance regulations. These regulations govern data in transit and at rest – including data collection, storage, and transmission – to ensure heightened levels of security and protection over electronic protected health information (ePHI).

The need to protect ePHI is self-evident: A patient’s medical history is very personal and private information and should only be shared with the physicians, health care providers, and insurers that require it to effectively treat the patient. Unauthorized access to or tampering with ePHI can have grave outcomes.

As such, anyone who is tasked with administering ePHI data is required to deploy HIPAA-compliant hosting. Who needs HIPAA-compliant hosting? Government agencies and organizations that create, collect, transmit, or store ePHI are bound by HIPAA compliance requirements. This includes health care providers and health insurance companies, but it also extends to military and Veterans organizations that record service members’ medical histories. Also bound by HIPAA are the supporting contractors, like IT consultants and cloud hosting providers, who have any level of access to ePHI data.

How to find a HIPAA-compliant cloud hosting provider

If your agency is covered under HIPAA, there are several considerations you should make as you explore enlisting a cloud service provider (CSP) to handle ePHI and other sensitive data.

  • Before contracting a CSP, a business associate agreement should be established that outlines how information can be disclosed and used.
  • Expectations regarding system availability, reliability, backup, data recovery, and more should be outlined separately in a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the hiring agency and the CSP.
  • If a CSP experiences a security incident, it must notify the hiring agency, take steps to mitigate any adverse effects, and document the events and their outcomes.
  • A cloud hosting provider’s services should be readily scalable, with demonstrable experience and expertise in meeting similar agencies’ needs.

Failure to adequately protect health information could result in considerable HIPAA-related fines and penalties, irreparable damage to an organization’s reputation, diminished trust from peer organizations and the public, and costly litigation and lawsuits.

GovDataHosting helps agencies avoid these worst-case scenarios by providing compliant hosting solutions with HIPAA-mandated safeguards built in. Our services have been the subject of comprehensive audits, which verified the proper and rigorous implementation of required HIPAA controls, while confirming the stability of GovDataHosting's cloud infrastructure. Don’t risk an ePHI breach or incident. Get HIPAA compliant with GovDataHosting by starting the conversation today.

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