Hospital Security: Structure for HIPAA Compliance

Thursday, February 25, 2016 by under Safety

Patient safety and privacy are top priorities at your hospital.

Before you can implement the necessary security equipment needed to keep individuals secure, you must ensure Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations are being properly taken into consideration.

Outlined below are critical considerations to help hospitals properly assess their IT and security equipment needs against HIPAA regulations.

Secure Computers and Devices

As part of HIPAA, hospitals are required to ensure protected health information (PHI) is secure and private. This means computers and devices hosting this information must be properly protected. A few ways to ensure maximum security of critical files, records and data includes:

  • Require all computer or device users to have their own, unique password and/or passcode. This provides enhanced visibility into who is logging into your systems and limits access to specific individuals.
  • Back up files electronically. Store sensitive information on a secondary system, such as cloud-based systems or an offline computer, in the event your primary system fails or malfunctions.
  • Install firewalls and anti-virus software. Work with your IT team to protect your network from hackers gaining unauthorized access.

Ensure Proper Surveillance Camera Placement

Surveillance cameras can be a great way to add an extra layer of security to your hospital by deterring theft or violent behavior. However, prior to installing cameras throughout your hospital, consider privacy precautions.

To maintain patient confidentiality, avoid camera installation in hospital rooms, bathrooms, emergency rooms or directly facing computer screens.

You can install security cameras in the following areas:

  • Hospital entrances and exits.
  • Elevators and fire escapes.
  • Entrances to restricted areas.
  • Equipment or medicine storage closets.
  • Hallways.

Since these locations are considered open to the public, hospitals are legally allowed to install surveillance cameras. That said, footage should only be viewed by necessary individuals in case PHI or other sensitive information is accidentally captured on camera.

To avoid unnecessary legal ramifications, it is a best practice to post signs that notify individuals your hospital uses surveillance cameras, and that they are being recorded.

Enable Access Control

HIPAA regulations require hospitals to implement technical safeguards, such as access control, to prevent unauthorized access to certain areas of your hospital and sensitive information. Access control products that can help enhance security include:

  • Access cards.
  • Basic intercom systems.
  • Combination technology readers.
  • Photo identification systems.
  • Proximity readers.
  • Swipe readers.
  • Turnstile readers.
  • Video analytics interface.

Work closely with your security vendor and IT team to mesh security needs against HIPAA regulations.

How does your hospital prepare for HIPAA compliance? Share with us in the comments below.

Image Source: Michael Coté


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