HIPAA versus Hitrust? What’s The Difference In Health Tech Standards

HIPAA versus Hitrust? What's The Difference In Health Tech Standards

It’s so important in the digital age to secure data. Companies and healthcare organizations face potential breaches on a regular basis so it’s vital that systems are in place for protection. 

The HIPAA and HITRUST frameworks are two of the leading data protection systems. But how are they different?

This article will explain all.

What is HITRUST?

The Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) allows healthcare providers to meet the necessary HIPAA security rules and regulations. It was formed to maintain the Common Security Framework (CSF) laid out by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to keep healthcare organizations’ data secure.

Before HITRUST was around, many believed that data security was more of a burden rather than integral to the risk management and protection process. 

To quote them directly:

“HITRUST has championed programs that safeguard sensitive information and manage information risk for global organizations across all industries and throughout the third-party supply chain. In collaboration with privacy, information security and risk management leaders from the public and private sectors, HITRUST develops, maintains and provides broad access to its widely-adopted common risk and compliance management frameworks, related assessment and assurance methodologies.”

What Is HITRUST Compliance?

HITRUST is different to many other healthcare data security systems because it is certifiable. 

Before HITRUST, healthcare businesses would sign agreements with regulators and partners to show that they were compliant with HIPAA. When read, they would say that that organization had done all they can to implement data controls and protect it.

The problem with this was that no one could confirm it. The agreements acted as a sign of good faith between parties. 

However, some businesses brought in an external HITRUST assessor to confirm that these controls were in place. This was the only way that companies could verify that they were truly HIPAA compliant.

Differences Between HITRUST vs HIPAA Requirements For Certification

HITRUST

HITRUST is the body that creates and maintains the CSF. It unites all fronts of regulatory security compliance, making it easier for healthcare businesses to adapt their controls to meet the latest regulations. In turn, these organizations can better protect the sensitive information they are holding about their patients.

HIPAA

Wheres HITRUST is a body, HIPAA are a set of standards to follow. By doing so, healthcare businesses can protect patient data. Compliance with HIPAA means only allowing those with access, such as healthcare providers and professionals, to the patients’ personal information.

Are HITRUST And HIPAA Interchangeable?

In a word, no. HITRUST includes HIPAA but it is not limited to it. HIPAA is key to protecting patient data and acts as the foundation for security controls and protection. However, they are just guidelines. There is no room for healthcare practices to integrate complete data protection against a rising number of threats. As technology advances year on year, it can be a lot tougher to keep up without extra help.

On the other hand, HITRUST follows the CSF, a much broader set of guidelines compared to HIPAA. For example, where HIPAA includes technical and physical protection procedures, HITRUST also takes advantage of employing risk management and other security measures from the Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT), International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), among others.

HITRUST covers all bases. It’s intended to make securing data easier and expand coverage.

The Risk Of A Data Breach

The healthcare industry is one of the costliest in the United States. This means that the potential of a data breach can cost a healthcare practice millions of dollars, not to mention the loss of reputation that will come along with it.

Unfortunately, the number of recorded attempted data breaches is on the rise. This means that it’s never been more important to understand the risks and threats involved in order to minimize the chances of them happening.

HIPAA compliance was the first set of regulations to contain and protect private information and prevent a data breach. Nowadays, it’s just a drop in the ocean.

Medical records contain so much information. While a hacker may not be interested that they require a life-saving surgery, they would certainly be interested in other types of personal data stored in a record, such as full name and address, health insurance information and even a social security number.

In the wrong hands, this information is very valuable, making it a big target and in some people’s eyes, worth breaking the law for. For example, stealing someone’s social security number can be used in a whole of potential fraudulent activity. Identity theft is another potential threat. All the hacker needs are the name and the credit card information used to pay the insurance and they’re good to go.

Unless an organization is following and implementing strong cybersecurity, they are leaving themselves open for attack. It’s critical for the practice, and the patients themselves for that matter, that controls are in place to prevent sensitive information being obtained by those that have no right to it.

Becoming HITRUST Certified

Once a company has become HITRUST certified, they can rest easy knowing that their security procedures are up-to-date with modern standards and reducing the threat of potential data breaches from hackers and illegal activity.

While it’s not a requirement for a healthcare business to become HITRUST certified, it’s certainly well-advised. It’s easy to ensure that the business is acting accordingly and has the right tools to protect patient information.

For any healthcare executive reading this article that hasn’t taken steps to protect sensitive data, now is the time. Becoming HITRUST verified shows to patients and potential partners that the business is serious about data protection. 

Conclusion

HIPAA technology is a set of regulations for healthcare practices to follow. However, HITRUST goes beyond these guidelines to ensure thorough data protection. Compared to HIPAA, HITRUST makes it much easier for healthcare practices to implement compliance procedures and ensure they are using security controls correctly to protect sensitive patient, client and overall business information.