Back before the age of big data, the gravest concern regarding medical records was a breach of doctor/patient confidentiality. And in a way it still is - today's digital environments host the gamut of health records and raw medical data exchanged across many different kinds of smart devices and decentralized IT infrastructure.The catch is, the same rules regarding information disclosures still apply. How can the modern health care facility innovate without compromising their patients' medical records and other personal information?
What is SOC 2?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in 1996 turned the attention of U.S. health care toward remedying an emerging threat to data privacy and the need for greater security measures to protect patients. Essentially, HIPAA auditors would regularly perform a series of tests on IT infrastructures and the related procedures underpinning all modern health care facilities to determine their compliance against a number of technical factors.
The tradition continued with HIPAA Service Organization Control 2, an updated standard developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants to advance HIPAA auditing. SOC 2 is a distant cousin of similar data security frameworks SAS 70 and SOC 1, which pertains to financial reporting.
While SOC 2 HIPAA might not be the only avenue down which health care providers can build stronger data security safeguards, it distils the intricacies of HIPAA controls are down to five manageable Trust Services Principles, making it easier for health care organizations to build effective policies around data policing.
What are the Different Parts of SOC 2?
The SOC 2 framework includes five TSPs - security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality and privacy - by which data centers must base not simply their technology, but the processes surrounding the tech. Health care providers hoping to prove SOC 2 HIPAA compliance can use these benchmarks when compiling compliance reports to ensure they've hit every regulatory standard necessary for this day and age.
SOC 2 reports, like predecessor SOC 1, also break down into two types. First, Type 1 contains data center management's description of the system and the design of the controls. Type 2 covers the same areas, but includes an auditor's opined assessment as to the "operational effectiveness of controls," according to the AICPA.
How can Change Management System Platforms Help Protect Patient Data?
Since HIPAA compliance is mandatory for all health care organizations - whether they manage their own data centers or outsource management to third-party service providers - change management becomes a crucial element to the discussion of health care data regulation. While no absolutes exist that guarantees compliance, advanced IT service management suites offer many valuable tools in helping organizations strive toward the safeguards SOC 2 HIPAA hopes to instill in the industry.
For instance, smarter and more comprehensive change management documentation bolsters both administrative and technical protections against sensitive data leakage. Should a breach occur, a change advisory board could examine change logs to determine if the event was caused by a configuration error and sanction parties responsible, as is required under the HIPAA provisions SOC 2 directly impacts.
Even without a breach, an intuitive interface for change documentation makes regularly reviewing logs faster and less time-intensive for technicians and developers. Moreover, adding a CMDB to change management software not only further accelerates change management, but may be beneficial to data center operators as they implement risk management and analysis standards internally.
Safety is paramount to the health care industry, not simply safety from disease or injury but against harm caused by unprotected personal medical data. In the last 20 years, SOC 2 HIPAA and regulatory measures of its ilk have done much to set the ball in motion. Now, health care providers and their IT partners must take it upon themselves to self-diagnose and prescribe a cure for data insecurity that grows more dangerous by the day. Luckily, advanced ITSM may offer guidance as health care continues to adapt and evolve.