News Stay informed about the latest enterprise technology news and product updates.

HIPAA security rules explained

HIPAA's security rules at a glance.

HIPAA's security requirements affect companies that store and transmit protected health information electronically. This includes healthcare providers, insurers and clearinghouses.

Enterprises that serve clients in the healthcare industry -- laboratories, collection agencies and lawyers, for example -- must also implement protections to secure

There's no cookie-cutter approach for everyone. The standards don't specify any particular technology to adopt. They outline what must be done, not how to do it.

There's no cookie-cutter approach for everyone. The standards don't specify any particular technology to adopt. They outline what must be done, not how to do it.

Organizations trying to figure out how to apply the standards must take into account their size, complexity, capabilities, compliance costs and the potential risks to their electronically protected health information.

Generally speaking, HIPAA security requires that:

  • Administrative safeguards be in place to manage the selection and execution of security measures.
  • Physical safeguards be in place to protect electronic systems and related buildings and equipment from environmental hazards and unauthorized intrusion.
  • Technical safeguards be in place, including an automated processes to protect data and control access to it.
  • Risk assessments are conducted and that security policies and procedures are documented.
  • Organizations have a device to screen traffic from the Internet such as a firewall.

Tthe HIPAA security rules are outlined by the Department of Health and Human Services. ,

Related stories from the series

HIPAA rules force health insurers to secure sensitive data: IT security and compliance professionals said the massive patient privacy law is a bitter pill for some to swallow and the best prescription for others to follow.

Got a health plan? Then your company's covered under HIPAA. The HIPAA data security rules must be observed by any enterprise that offers its employees a healthcare plan.

Covered entities with the exception of small health plans must comply with the security requirements by April 21. Small health plans -- those with fewer than 50 employees -- must comply by April 21, 2006.

Learn about HIPAA privacy and security by reading our series.

Note: This information was culled from various sources, including the Department of Health and Human Services, ArticSoft, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Dig Deeper on HIPAA

Join the conversation

1 comment

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

Good intro...note the date of this article. The interesting thing about HIPAA compliance, especially as it relates to the Security Rule, is that many people have not even started their initiatives at all. Or they've started and have all the policies and people in place but have yet to perform a risk assessment - especially as it relates to the technical side of security. There's also the more recent HITECH Act and the Omnibus Rule updates that further strengthen the HIPAA requirements for not only traditional covered entities but also business associates and all of their subcontractors that have their hands in protected health information (PHI). It's huge.

The following is a link to a forthcoming resource I co-wrote that has the latest information on this subject: