The need for cybersecurity in the healthcare industry has never been as crucial as it is today. With the threat of ransomware constantly looming over our heads, we must always ensure that the highest security protects patient data. This is where HITRUST comes in. HITRUST stands for Health Information Trust Alliance and is a certification that shows your organisation employs the highest data security standards.
Although HITRUST is commonly used in the United States and is not required in the United Kingdom healthcare industry, you may choose to adopt it voluntarily if you have partnerships with US-based organisations or have international operations.
That said, it’s important to note that organisations in the UK often follow other frameworks and regulations when it comes to data security and privacy. The main regulatory frameworks are the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These two frameworks govern how your healthcare organisation protects its sensitive healthcare data.
Now that we have that out of the way let’s now focus on HITRUST for organisations that want to integrate it into their system.
What Is HITRUST?
The HITRUST Certification was developed collaboratively by leaders in the healthcare, technology, and information security industries. Although getting this certification can be a time-consuming and intense process, it will greatly improve your organisation’s ability to protect your data.
Speaking of protecting sensitive data, another way to do this is to be aware of your vulnerabilities and use strategies to fix them before they are exploited. This is where vulnerability management comes in. It’s a kind of “prevention is better than cure” approach.
Anyway, the HITRUST Certification is a standardised approach to managing and protecting the sensitive information found within the healthcare industry. This comprehensive approach reduces the risk of data breaches and also ensures your organisation is compliant with the required regulations.
You’ll need to partner with an authorised HITRUST External Assessor and pass the comprehensive security evaluation. In addition to equipping your organisation with the tools and skills it needs to secure itself, having the HITRUST Certification verifies that you put the security of your organisation first and sets you apart from your peers.
In fact, the HITRUST Certification is at the top when it comes to compliance in the healthcare industry in the United States.
Why Was HITRUST Developed?
HITRUST – a private organisation founded in 2007 – was created to enable organisations to achieve Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) compliance requirements and manage information risk. Basically, HITRUST was developed to address the increasing threat of privacy violations and data breaches in the healthcare industry in the United States.
HITRUST’s main goal is to standardise the process of managing security risks. The HITRUST Common Security Framework harmonises the fragmented regulations within the industry.
Let’s now look at the HITRUST certification process.
HITRUST CSF Certification Process
Here are the steps to follow when getting the HITRUST CSF Certificate that will allow you to demonstrate compliance with the necessary regulations.
However, it’s important to note that the process to obtain HITRUST Certification varies depending on the specific organisation’s size and complexity. Therefore, treat this as simply an outline of the process.
Here are the key components of the HITRUST certification process.
As with everything else in life, you need to prepare for the best results. In the case of this common security framework (CSF) certification, preparation involves conducting a risk assessment to identify any gaps in your organisation’s security controls.
The second step includes a comprehensive assessment of your organisation’s security controls and practices. The HITRUST assessor will conduct an audit to evaluate your adherence to the HITRUST framework and controls.
The assessor will document any gaps found in your system for remediation. This entire process can take up to 8 weeks, depending on the complexity and size of your organisation.
3. Remediation and Validation
Once the gaps are identified in the step above, it’s time for your organisation to rectify them to comply with the HITRUST framework. This process includes implementing policies, procedures, and security measures that align with the HITRUST framework. The assessors provide you with the support you need to ensure that everything is in order. The process can take up to 6 months, depending on the size of your organisation and the gaps you are working to fill.
Once you’ve made all the changes and removed any weaknesses, the assessor will reassess to validate the effectiveness of the implemented HITRUST controls. This process can involve an on-site risk assessment that includes interviews with key personnel in the organisation, sampling, penetration tests, a review of supporting documentation, and other relevant procedures.
The levels of HITRUST compliance include:
- Fully compliant
- Mostly compliant
- Partially compliant
- Somewhat compliant
Once the HITRUST assessors validate your organisation’s scores, they’ll send their final assessment of your organisation to HITRUST for final approval.
4. Certification and Ongoing Compliance
This is the final step of the certification process. Once your organisation has successfully completed the validation process, it will be awarded the HITRUST Certification. However, this isn’t the end of the journey because you have to maintain HITRUST compliance to keep your certification.
This means that there will be regular audits and assessments to address emerging risks and ensure you continue to adhere to the HITRUST framework.
Benefits of Getting the HITRUST Certification
Here are some of the benefits your organisation will get after compliance with HITRUST.
1. Enhanced Security
One of the biggest benefits of a HITRUST Certification is that you’ll get to reduce the risk of data breaches in your system. The HITRUST Certification provides you with a robust framework that allows you to set up comprehensive safeguards and security controls.
2. Competitive Advantage
Having the HITRUST certification as a UK-based healthcare organisation allows you to gain a competitive advantage over other similar organisations without the certification.
You’ll be able to form partnerships with other US-based healthcare organisations or set up your own operations within the states. Other UK-based organisations without the certification cannot do this as seamlessly as you.
3. Regulatory Compliance
Getting the HITRUST Certification allows you to demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements required when practising in the United States. Although this certification is not required in the UK, you do need it if you have partnerships in the United States or have operations in that country.
This certification serves as proof of your commitment to protecting your data at all costs. It also simplifies other compliance audits and allows you to carry out your operations in the United States seamlessly.
4. Streamlined Vendor Management
Once your organisation is certified, you’ll be able to ensure that your vendors and partners adhere to the same standards of data protection as you do. This eases your management of the vendors and streamlines other aspects of your organisation.
The HITRUST Certification demonstrates that you are committed to safeguarding your organisation’s data. And although it’s not a requirement if your healthcare organisation is based in the UK, you’ll require it to carry out operations in the United States.
In an age where cyber threats continue to pose a great risk to healthcare organisations, the HITRUST comprehensive framework empowers you to expand your operations into new territories within the United States.
Featured Image Source: pexels.com