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Ensuring HIPAA and FedRAMP Compliance During a Public Health Crisis

By Elizabeth Clor

The healthcare community is under immense stress right now as the COVID-19 pandemic consumes public health expertise, medical research capacity, hospital resources and equipment availability. Here in the United States, hospitals are facing unprecedented waves of sick patients who require various levels of medical attention in addition to regular operations. And federal, state and local governments from New York to California are in full crisis response mode.

Meanwhile, regulations like the Federal Risk and Management Program (FedRAMP) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) command compliance. Luckily, there are IT and tech solutions developed with compliance in mind that hospitals and government agencies can implement to help them through the crisis.

HIPAA in the Time of COVID-19

Despite the fact that healthcare organizations battling the pandemic have enough to worry about before regulatory compliance comes into the picture, industry standards remain in place to keep entities accountable and patient data secure. As circumstances and conditions for sharing patient data change in line with the pandemic response, compliance remains centrally important to medical operations and protecting patient rights. And in order to ensure compliance amid chaos, healthcare providers should adopt technology platforms outfitted with built-in HIPAA governance over data sharing and cross-platform transactions. 

Among many other things, the COVID-19 pandemic is a wake up call for hospitals to enlist the help of tech and IT solutions that come with compliance protocols for industry-wide regulations like HIPAA. In this particular context, alleviating the regulatory burden for healthcare organizations, executives and practitioners through technology will free up precious human time that can be spent directly addressing the crisis. Executives in charge of IT and tech procurement should also check to confirm that platforms feature compliant security measures for health data sharing that extend beyond the current situation. 

The Importance of a FedRAMP-Compliant PaaS

The necessity to store, share and maintain healthcare data extends to government agencies as well. Government agencies are faced with securely connecting remote workforces that include national security and healthcare policy teams to platforms, data and tools from afar. In the U.S., agencies from the State Department to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are adapting operations and internal policies to inform federal responses to the public health crisis and take care of personnel who may be impacted—directly or indirectly—by COVID-19. 

Government Agencies in the market for tech and IT solutions that adhere to the FedRAMP framework of compliance should consider platforms-as-a-service (PaaS) that enhance security measures for public sector cloud computing, enable agency applications to remain private and protected, and fortify web hosting as public demand for digital services and information increases. 

Agencies dealing with pandemic response, in particular, should focus on employing solutions with PaaS offerings, including: managed IT support to provide instant and trustworthy expertise when issues arise, data security to protect information flowing from one agency to another through the cloud and infrastructure quality assurance to maintain public sector IT systems regardless of agency demand or accessibility. Ensuring FedRAMP compliance through the use of approved cloud technology will allow agencies to focus on helping citizens, delivering resources to government personnel and addressing other public health challenges at-hand.

For more information about how Contegix helps healthcare and government clients with HIPAA and FedRAMP compliance, visit: Contegix Compliant Solutions.