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The importance of HIPAA and what it can mean for your business

The importance of HIPAA and what it can mean for your business

For most people, HIPAA is merely a regulation that they are vaguely familiar with from the paperwork they have to sign at their doctors’ offices. For businesses that are in or related to the healthcare industry, however, HIPAA is a crucial concern that could threaten an organization’s survival if it isn't kept up with properly.


Does your organization need to be HIPAA compliant? Why is HIPAA compliance so vital in the first place, and what could it mean for your business? Our security compliance specialists are answering all your top questions.

Does your business need to comply with HIPAA?

While this is often misunderstood, it’s important to know that HIPAA doesn’t apply to any and all health-related information. The regulation only applies to specific types of organizations based on how you do business and what contact you have with private health information.


Namely, HIPAA laws apply to specific types of organizations that HIPAA outlines as “covered entities,” including:


  • Health plans, such as health insurance companies and HMOs
  • Healthcare providers that conduct any business electronically, including billing insurance companies electronically, which is nearly all healthcare providers
  • Healthcare clearinghouses, which are organizations that receive healthcare data from other organizations and translate it into a different format


To a lesser extent, anyone who serves as a “business associate” of a covered entity also needs to be HIPAA-compliant. A business associate is typically a contractor or subcontractor that a covered entity hires who has access to private health information. A business associate doesn’t have to follow all of the HIPAA regulations, only a limited portion of them.

Why is HIPAA critical for your business?

If you fall under the categories outlined above as “covered entities” in HIPAA, then HIPAA compliance is a vital necessity for your business. There are regulatory reasons and practical reasons why your compliance needs to be a priority.

Avoid serious penalties

HIPAA is not a security standard that is well-advised, yet voluntary. It is a strict US law that must be followed by any organization that qualifies as a covered entity. If you are not compliant, you risk severe penalties issued by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights.


There are four tiers of HIPAA penalties, with Tier 1 being the least severe and Tier 4 being the most severe. The OCR can determine which tier your HIPAA violation fits into based on factors like the severity of the violation, how reasonably avoidable the violation was, how much knowledge you had of the problem, and whether you tried to correct the violation.


Each tier has maximum and minimum fines per violation. Those fines are adjusted each year to align with inflation. The current fine amounts took effect in November 2021. For the lowest three tiers, you could be fined up to more than $60,000 per violation and up to over $1.8 million per year. For Tier 4 violations, the minimum fine per violation is over $60,000 and you may be fined more than $1.8 million per violation.

Enhance overall security

HIPAA regulations are not mere formalities. They exist to make your health data more secure and protect it from both intentional and unintentional access by people who shouldn’t have access to it. This involves a variety of information security strategies that are designed to secure your network and beyond.


This means that when you implement HIPAA, you’ll be making your data more secure so you lower your chances for a data breach. Data breaches are costly of their own accord, so HIPAA regulations carry benefits beyond just avoiding legal penalties.

Preserve the trust of your patients

The healthcare industry is a highly trust-based industry. If you lose the trust of your patients or customers, they’re likely to look for a new provider or insurance carrier in a heartbeat because they don’t want to put their health at risk. HIPAA violations are a fast way to lose that essential trust, so becoming and remaining compliant is essential for keeping your patients or customers.

What could HIPAA non-compliance mean for your business?

Ultimately, all of this boils down to the fact that HIPAA non-compliance could be enough of a problem to close your business entirely. You might find yourself with penalty fines so high they could bankrupt your business. You could also quickly lose your patients or customers if the word gets out that you aren’t keeping their private health information safe. All told, not complying with HIPAA could spell the end of your business.

How to protect your business with HIPAA compliance

Can you say with certainty that your business is fully compliant with HIPAA? If not, it’s time to make your HIPAA compliance a top priority.


Getting started is simple when you use an automated compliance platform like Vanta. Vanta will conduct an in-depth scan of your system against HIPAA requirements, providing you with a clear and precise checklist of the regulations you may not comply with and giving you documentation of the regulations you do meet. Along with templates and tools to use in your compliance engineering, Vanta makes HIPAA compliance simpler so you can keep your business and your patients safe.

Get HIPAA compliant


Vanta HIPAA compliance software

Your HIPAA compliance checklist

The ultimate HIPAA guide

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Access Review Stage Content / Functionality
Across all stages
  • Easily create and save a new access review at a point in time
  • View detailed audit evidence of historical access reviews
Setup access review procedures
  • Define a global access review procedure that stakeholders can follow, ensuring consistency and mitigation of human error in reviews
  • Set your access review frequency (monthly, quarterly, etc.) and working period/deadlines
Consolidate account access data from systems
  • Integrate systems using dozens of pre-built integrations, or “connectors”. System account and HRIS data is pulled into Vanta.
  • Upcoming integrations include Zoom and Intercom (account access), and Personio (HRIS)
  • Upload access files from non-integrated systems
  • View and select systems in-scope for the review
Review, approve, and deny user access
  • Select the appropriate systems reviewer and due date
  • Get automatic notifications and reminders to systems reviewer of deadlines
  • Automatic flagging of “risky” employee accounts that have been terminated or switched departments
  • Intuitive interface to see all accounts with access, account accept/deny buttons, and notes section
  • Track progress of individual systems access reviews and see accounts that need to be removed or have access modified
  • Bulk sort, filter, and alter accounts based on account roles and employee title
Assign remediation tasks to system owners
  • Built-in remediation workflow for reviewers to request access changes and for admin to view and manage requests
  • Optional task tracker integration to create tickets for any access changes and provide visibility to the status of tickets and remediation
Verify changes to access
  • Focused view of accounts flagged for access changes for easy tracking and management
  • Automated evidence of remediation completion displayed for integrated systems
  • Manual evidence of remediation can be uploaded for non-integrated systems
Report and re-evaluate results
  • Auditor can log into Vanta to see history of all completed access reviews
  • Internals can see status of reviews in progress and also historical review detail

PCI Compliance Selection Guide

Determine Your PCI Compliance Level

If your organization processes, stores, or transmits cardholder data, you must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a global mandate created by major credit card companies. Compliance is mandatory for any business that accepts credit card payments.

When establishing strategies for implementing and maintaining PCI compliance, your organization needs to understand what constitutes a Merchant or Service Provider, and whether a Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) or Report on Compliance (ROC) is most applicable to your business.

Answer a few short questions and we’ll help identify your compliance level.

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Does your business offer services to customers who are interested in your level of PCI compliance?

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Identify your PCI SAQ or ROC level

The PCI Security Standards Council has established the below criteria for Merchant and Service Provider validation. Use these descriptions to help determine the SAQ or ROC that best applies to your organization.

Good news! Vanta supports all of the following compliance levels:

SAQ A

A SAQ A is required for Merchants that do not require the physical presence of a credit card (like an eCommerce, mail, or telephone purchase). This means that the Merchant’s business has fully outsourced all cardholder data processing to PCI DSS compliant third party Service Providers, with no electronic storage, processing, or transmission of any cardholder data on the Merchant’s system or premises.

Get PCI DSS certified

SAQ A-EP

A SAQ A-EP is similar to a SAQ A, but is a requirement for Merchants that don't receive cardholder data, but control how cardholder data is redirected to a PCI DSS validated third-party payment processor.

Learn more about eCommerce PCI

SAQ D
for service providers

A SAQ D includes over 200 requirements and covers the entirety of PCI DSS compliance. If you are a Service Provider, a SAQ D is the only SAQ you’re eligible to complete.

Use our PCI checklist

ROC
Level 1 for service providers

A Report on Compliance (ROC) is an annual assessment that determines your organization’s ability to protect cardholder data. If you’re a Merchant that processes over six million transactions annually or a Service Provider that processes more than 300,000 transactions annually, your organization is responsible for both a ROC and an Attestation of Compliance (AOC).

Automate your ROC and AOC

Download this checklist for easy reference

Questions?

Learn more about how Vanta can help. You can also find information on PCI compliance levels at the PCI Security Standards Council website or by contacting your payment processing partner.

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