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3 ITSM Tools to Help Avoid HIPAA Fines

06/18/2014 by: The SunView Team

Hospitals, physician offices and other healthcare organizations are facing major challenges trying to upgrade their technological capabilities while also complying with complex and challenging regulatory guidelines. This is creating a difficult operational climate for IT leaders in healthcare and making advanced IT service management tools a critical component of any technology plan. A good service management tool provides documentation, control and collaboration tools needed to guide day-to-day processes in a way that helps prevent regulatory breaches and enables IT leaders to track down issues through internal audits.

This functionality could prove incredibly important moving forward as a recent Law360 report explained that some industry experts are expecting HIPAA fines to escalate considerably during the next 12 months.

HIPAA Fine Increases Coming
Speaking at the American Bar Association conference in Chicago, Jerome Meites, a chief regional civil rights counsel at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told audiences at the event that enforcement of HIPAA regulations will become much more aggressive during the next 12 months. according to the news source. The HHS collected approximately $10 million in HIPAA fines during the 12 month period starting in June 2013. Meites said that the $10 million figure is low compared to what the agency is expecting for the next 12 months.

A report from The Hill analyzed Meites comments and pointed out that the prediction carries a great deal of weight because the last 12 month period that Meites was talking about was not exactly a down time for the HHS. Instead, the $10 million collected in HIPAA fines during the last 12 months represented a record for the agency.

3 Service Desk Tools That can Support HIPAA Compliance
Complying with HIPAA standards hinges on effective data protection, which has a great deal to do with avoiding application-related problems. Protecting against hackers and similar threats is important, but data loss incidents can just as easily happen when a database accidentally publishes information to a public website or a glitch in an application reveals personal data to somebody who isn't authorized to view it. As such, advanced service management tools play a vital part in supporting HIPAA compliance, and three standout solutions are:

  1. Change Management: Mishandled changes are among the common ways that data ends up places it isn't supposed to go. So many tiny things can go wrong during a change leading to problems, that healthcare organizations need to strive for perfection in this area or open themselves up to significant risks. A change management platform coordinates the processes involved in changes and enables IT teams to handle complex operations with precision, eliminating risk.
  2. CMDB: Avoiding an unintentional outage or data ending up where it shouldn't go is vital to complying with HIPAA standards, and a CMDB may be one of the most valuable tools available in helping hospitals and other care facilities avoid such problems. A CMDB is populated with every configuration item in the IT setup and it shows how those systems relate to one another. This resource can be used to input changes before they are made and show what systems will be impacted by the alteration. The end result is a better ability to predict the outcome of change and avoid unintended consequences.
  3. Release Management: Patient engagement plans and other changing healthcare strategies are pushing hospitals to develop specialized solutions and deploy a much wider range of applications and services. These solutions need to be deployed flawlessly to avoid glitches and prevent the kinds of problems that lead to data loss. This creates an IT environment in which release management tools become essential to ensure a smooth, error-free deployment for new applications.

HIPAA enforcement may soon get more aggressive, but healthcare organizations can prepare by getting their IT service management capabilities in shape.