HIPAA Compliance & Managed File Transfer: Do you have a safety net?


In the healthcare industry, numerous issues can arise if an organization does not transfer files securely and in the right format:

  • The organization is vulnerable to information loss
  • It risks reputational damage from inefficient business practices
  • The organization may face regulatory fines if the sensitive data is transferred insecurely
  • Shipments of critical medicines and supplies can be delayed

However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 38 percent of medical billers and coders work between 41-70 hours per week. With long hours and a median pay wage of $32,000 a year, billers and coders are some of the most overworked professions. Putting manual security and file transfer responsibilities on these workers can ultimately lead to human error. Mistakes in the transfer of sensitive medical information can bring government fines in the hundreds of thousands to millions for large healthcare networks.

Rather than running that risk, or spending too much time and money training specialized security professionals to manually tracking the data, software and solutions like Managed File Transfer (MFT) software can help your business to meet regulatory requirements such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Managed file transfer software (MFT) and solutions equip organizations with the capabilities to move and share data points, files and documents with internal employees and external partners without manual conversion or the risk of corrupted files. MFT solutions can be customized for organizational software and standards that are already in place, while ensuring that the transfers are well protected against hackers, corruption and loss.

The IBM Sterling Managed File Transfer solution helps healthcare organizations improve security and protect patient information from threats, allowing more employee hours to be used elsewhere to enhance industry reforms and improve the quality of care delivered.

medical billing, hipaa, managed file transferHealthcare file transfer expectations 

Under HIPAA, there are clauses written to ensure healthcare file transfer activities are protected from a myriad of potential threats. As more healthcare providers are sharing electronic health records and images with specialists and other doctors, enhanced security features are in place to keep the transfers safe while remaining cost efficient.

In the second part of HIPAA, under the administrative simplification provisions, there are requirements set in place to protect the privacy and security of electronic portable health information (EHR) when it is accessed or shared. The provisions aim to enhance efficiency by supporting the use of EHRs through standardized governance and protections.

The need for patient information securities arose when new technologies took shape that allowed for faster sharing of data between providers. It’s a great thing in terms of hospital efficiency, because now a surgeon working on a patient on the 2nd floor of a large hospital can send data about the patient to recovery on the 8th floor in an instant. HIPAA's security rule applies to the electronic use of patient-critical information to complement and supplement the privacy rule.

The rules outlines in HIPAA do not only apply to internal information transfers but apply to computers, information systems, EHRs, computerized physician order entry, clinical software applications and other tools. To ensure all of these components are secure when transferring information, software that is specialized in healthcare law compliance can reduce man hours needed to devote to security and file transfers.

While companies should be aware of the administrative safeguards - management processes, security training, contingency plans - required under HIPAA, the physical safeguards are equally important and apply directly to the mechanisms deployed to protect electronic systems, equipment and data being shared. There are also technical safeguards that focus on audit controls, integrity, user authentication and transmission security.

When determining what security tools to leverage, or which services to invest in, organizations should consider a few questions:

  • What current circumstances are leaving patient information vulnerable to unauthorized access or corruption?
  • What security measures exist to protect patient-critical data and what protections have yet to be deployed?
  • How much will each implementation strategy cost, and how does that fit into organizational growth goals?

Answering these questions can help organizations determine their needs and how to achieve HIPAA compliance quickly and efficiently. 

To learn more about how your organization can achieve compliance and operational excellence with secure file transfers, view our free on-demand webinar below.