In this article, we look at how MS Access can be used by medical professionals including doctors while remaining compliant with HIPAA norms. Some best practices and security advice have been included for your benefit.
HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Signed in the year 1996, on the 21st of August by the then President Bill Clinton, the act aims to provide data security and other important security provisions which can be used for safeguarding the medical information of citizens. The act has lately gained prominence due to rising cyberattacks, and the increasing importance of user data with health insurance companies and providers. It includes five titles or sections which are applicable not just on different sections of beneficiaries, but also to organizations which have to comply with the act.
Complying with HIPAA norms along with MS Access
Multiple amendments have been introduced in the act to ensure compliance, as well penalties to those who fail to comply. HIPAA is applicable not just on healthcare organizations, but also to their business associates like cloud service providers, as well as providers of other third-party applications. Apart from ensuring the safety of all applications used healthcare organizations also need to inform people in case of data security breach.
For organizations using MS Access, compliance to HIPAA is not a challenge. Apart from all measures you take, you need to ensure the safety of your Access applications as well. This might increase your responsibility a little, but you need to keep in mind the ease that MS Access brings along with it. So make sure that the user data that you have stored in Access databases is secure and not vulnerable at any moment. Because losing this data to any ransomware or cyberattack can attract huge penalties.
Security Advice when using MS Access in Healthcare
For healthcare organizations compliance to HIPAA is no more a choice. So rather than looking for ways to escape it, you should look for ways to implement it in the least complex way. There are certain key tips which can also be considered as best practices when trying to ensure the security of user information in MS Access.
- Log in monitoring – Every time the database is accessed, you need to monitor who accessed it. This will help you keep a track of who all have access to the database, and are using it for what purpose.
- Password Management – Make sure that all requests for password change are well attended, no one is making use of any weak password, and all passwords are being entered manually.
- Ensuring Data Backups: To be compliant with the act, one needs to always ensure that customer data is not lost. So always follow a detailed multitier backup policy where you keep local as well as remote backups. Last but not the least keep a tool that can fix Access handy to deal with incidents like an Access database crash.
Vivian Stevens is a data recovery expert in DataNumen, Inc., which is the world leader in data recovery technologies, including mdf recovery and excel recovery software products. For more information visit www.datanumen.com
You wrote “For organizations using MS Access, compliance to HIPAA is not a challenge”. could you elaborate on what measures must be taken with MS Access to achieve HIPAA compliance?