In the healthcare industry special attention needs to be paid to the security and protection of patients’ private and highly sensitive electronic medical records. Healthcare providers are held to a higher standard when it comes to the backup, encryption, and retention of electronic medical records. These regulations were put into place to protect the confidentiality of patients who put their trust into their doctors’ hands. This trust in the doctor-patient relationship is of paramount importance, and any breach in that confidentiality, is simply unacceptable. As a result, there are strict security standards that were put in place to ensure the privacy and security of patient data.
In 1996, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) was enacted by the United States Congress and later provisioned to establish national standards for the security and privacy of patients’ data. This legislation and the updates that followed called for healthcare professionals to take the necessary actions to ensure that electronic protected health information (ePHI) was kept private and secure in full compliance with HIPAA regulations.
As a result, medical and dental healthcare providers must stay abreast of these ever-changing requirements for data protection. Noncompliance is not an option, as the penalties are substantial and carry stiff fines. For many small practices, this can be a daunting task, especially if they do not have fully-informed personnel dedicated to establishing proper policies and procedures or the IT staff to ensure that backups and retention settings are properly setup in compliance with regulatory requirements.
This opens up a huge opportunity for specialized medical and dental-focused resellers and backup software providers that are willing to provide their data protection expertise and knowledge of HIPAA requirements to assist these offices with their data protection, security and retention needs.
Here are a list of a few resellers than specialize in healthcare data protection:
- Compass Network Group, Inc. is focused purely on helping dental practices protect patient data.
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- Medix Dental offers HIPPA compliant backup and encrypted email services.
- MedBridge Medical Solutions offers physician consulting services to help medical offices establish policies and procedure and provides computer services such as backup and recovery.
Top 10 Things to Look for in
Backup Solutions for Healthcare
If you would like to work directly with a backup solutions provider, here are a few things that you want to look for in a backup solution for healthcare.
- HIPAA Compliance
Backup, encryption, data retention and recovery requirements are the backbone of HIPAA compliance. Look for a solution that offers HIPAA compliant data protection by securely backing up, encrypting, retaining and restoring data without compromising patient privacy.
- Simple Licensing Structure that Protects All Your Data
Don’t bother with managing numerous licenses for plugins and add-on features. Ensure that you have the ability to backup both physical and virtual server systems and critical business applications like SQL and Exchange from a single license and a single application.
- Secure Data Protection for File Backups with 256-bit Encryption
Verify that your backups can be password protected with a user-defined key that is not stored anywhere on the servers. Data should be protected using 256-bit AES encryption to prevent tampering, restrict unauthorized data access, and ensure patient confidentiality.
- Secure Entire System Protection for Disaster Recovery with 256-bit Encryption
To protect against hardware failure, virus attacks or natural disasters, you want to ensure that you have a local and offsite disaster recovery image backup with 256-bit encryption.
- Ability to Restore to Dissimilar Hardware in the Event of a Disaster
In the event of a disaster, you want to be able to restore your entire system, including your applications and OS to dissimilar hardware, so you can quickly get back to helping your patients.
- Flexible Data Retention to Meet Regulatory Demands
Best practices for data retention for ePHI is 7 years, although HIPAA only requires 6 years according to the LMN Matters (cms.gov). You want to have a solution that offers flexible data retention so you can decide exactly what you need to keep and for how long.
- Easy, User-Friendly Data Recovery
Your backup is only as good as your ability to recover your files, so you should test your backups frequently. Look for a solution that gives you the flexibility to restore files regardless of when or where the files were backed up. You should not have to remember which backup device your files are stored on in order to recover them.
- Real-time Reporting and Email Alerts to Validate Backup Job Status
You should be able to know that status of your backups at all times, no matter where you are. Verify that you have the ability to flexibly configure alerts and email notifications.
- Local Support with the Knowledge to Provide Technical Assistance
When you are in need of technical assistance, the last think you need is template responses from inadequately trained overseas call center employees. Find out where your backup support team is located, and find a solution with a local, knowledgeable support team.
- Installation and Backup Setup to Ensure Proper Configuration
In most small practices, the most technical person becomes the IT help. But no one expects that person to know everything, especially when it comes to backup. If you can find a company like NovaStor, that offers installation and setup of your backups, you can be certain they are setup and configured properly from day one.