How to Ensure Your IT Systems are HIPAA Compliant


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets the standard for sensitive patient data protection in the United States. Companies that deal with protected health information (PHI) must ensure that all the required physical, network, and process security measures are in place and followed. This guide will help you understand how to ensure your IT systems are HIPAA compliant.

Understanding HIPAA

HIPAA includes several rules, but the two most relevant to IT professionals are the Privacy Rule and the Security Rule. The Privacy Rule pertains to the saving, accessing, and sharing of medical and personal information of individuals, while the Security Rule more specifically outlines the standards to protect health information that is held or transferred in electronic form.

Steps to Ensure HIPAA Compliance

  1. Risk Analysis: The first step in achieving HIPAA compliance is conducting a thorough risk analysis. This process involves identifying where PHI is stored, received, maintained, or transmitted. Once these areas are identified, you can assess the vulnerabilities and risks to the PHI.

  2. Implement Policies and Procedures: You need to have written policies and procedures in place that describe how your organization will protect electronic PHI (ePHI). These policies should cover areas such as access control, security incident procedures, and contingency plans.

  3. Employee Training: All employees must be trained on these policies and procedures. They should understand the importance of protecting PHI and the consequences of failing to do so.

  4. Access Controls: Implement technical policies and procedures that allow only authorized persons to access electronic protected health information (e-PHI).

  5. Audit Controls: Use hardware, software, and procedural mechanisms to record and examine access and other activity in systems that contain or use e-PHI.

  6. Integrity Controls: Ensure e-PHI is not improperly altered or destroyed. Electronic measures must be put in place to confirm that e-PHI has not been improperly altered or destroyed.

  7. Transmission Security: Protect against unauthorized access to e-PHI that is being transmitted over a network.

  8. Regular Audits: Regular audits are essential to ensure that the controls you have put in place are working effectively. These audits can help identify areas of non-compliance or areas where additional security measures may be needed.

  9. Breach Notification: In the event of a breach of unsecured PHI, notify individuals, the Secretary, and, in certain circumstances, the media of the breach.

  10. Business Associate Agreements: Ensure that any business associates who will have access to PHI have signed a business associate agreement (BAA). This agreement ensures that the business associate will appropriately safeguard the PHI.


Ensuring your IT systems are HIPAA compliant is crucial for any organization that deals with protected health information. While the process can be complex, it’s essential for protecting your patients’ data and avoiding potential fines or legal action. If you have any questions or would like to discuss specific aspects of HIPAA compliance, feel free to start a conversation below.