In many ways, new compliance standards are a blessing in disguise for healthcare organizations. While HIPAA and others like it may initially seem limiting, forcing a care provider to shake up their infrastructure, it also gives them the opportunity to pursue other options in IT management and create scalable, secure systems that will serve them for years to come.
However, like any good frontier, innovation is fraught with danger. New technologies meant to improve aspects of healthcare such as patient data also open up new avenues of attack and new challenges to achieving compliance. We are at a point where these changes are necessary, but a balance must be struck to ensure that an organization is not waylaid while experimenting. There’s a lot at stake, but better options for healthcare organizations in IT makes it a bit easier to pursue improvements.
This is the unfortunate reality of technology in healthcare. Due diligence—particularly when handling sensitive information—is necessary, even if it slows down the speed of innovation. The risk of physical harm looms over healthcare systems as well. After all, if a monitoring device stops working, how will the already beleaguered doctors and nurses know to respond?
Even more concerning is the number of carers that believe that their security and compliance measures are up to snuff, even if many are not considered compliant. A lack of knowledge about modern standards and unknown gaps in data security both contribute to this figure.
This illustrates the need for healthcare organizations to bring in outside help—specialized auditors are often able to both identify weaknesses and give an organization the sense of what they can build on to deliver a better experience to their patients. It may be another cost an organization has to contend with, but the very real risk of endangering patient lives makes it very much worth it.
But when it comes to moving forward while staying secure, it turns out that it is wholly possible to work with solutions that are still HIPAA compliant. There’s no one segment that innovation is centered around—the beauty of this new frontier is that any healthcare organization with some savvy can start projects that will benefit them for years to come. However, any care provider should be aware of all of the strictures affecting them before they begin; for instance, an international company may need to comply with EU and HIPAA regulations.
If there’s one thing to take away from this shift, it’s that organizations should take the opportunity to improve rather than simply comply. The antiquity of many infrastructure elements means that they will likely need to make sweeping changes if they haven’t been keeping current. Tools such as cloud infrastructure, wearable technology, and better patient-side systems can all revolutionize the way a care facility functions. It all comes down to analyses of patient and employee needs to figure out which solutions will make the biggest impact.
There is no reason that healthcare organizations should have to choose between compliance and innovation, but they should still learn to do both safely. There’s a lot of work that goes into both, but new HIPAA regulations mean that organizations will need to make changes one way or another—and they may as well put in work that will lead to better outcomes for their patients.