4 Ways Advanced Change Management Supports Best Practices for SOC 2 HIPAA Compliance

Recently, we discussed the basics of SOC 2 HIPAA compliance, what it entails and how IT service management offerings could help businesses stay on regulators' good sides and out of the data doghouse.

Any organization that has been directly affected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act since its inception in the mid-90s knows it's a complex and esoteric piece of legislation growing more intricate and convoluted with each passing year.

How could it not? As cyberthreats to sensitive medical records and other health care data advance, so too must the regulatory safeguards. Yet when data centers build 40-foot walls around their configurations, hackers always manage to find 41-foot ladders to assail them, not to mention all the loose bricks around the foundation where personal data leaks out unprovoked.

As such, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants - the minds behind SOC 2 HIPAA compliance - condensed regulatory requirements down to five simple Trust Service Principles, or TSPs. Data center managers now how the power to assess their standing and address each concern head on. We've listed the five TSPs below, along with suggestions as to how ITSM suites with advanced change management modules could assist data centers in their mission to stick with SOC 2.

1. Security
No data center worth its mustard would consider general security optional. But as we mentioned above, the moving target of optimal security increases its velocity as technology advances and never, ever lets up.

So neither can change management. For continuous delivery to work with a secure configuration instead of against it, IT professionals require agile and intuitive change management software capable of releasing patches and updates quickly and accurately, all while capitalizing on automated features to eliminate time-intensive manual operations.

2. Availability
A downtime event affecting one physical or digital asset could cause a chain reaction that topples others, leaving sensitive data vulnerable. And believe it or not, human error is the single greatest threat to a functional IT network, according to a study by the Uptime Institute.

To prevent a domino-like collapse of interlocking assets, every proposed change must undergo rigorous testing to ensure its integration doesn't open a can of worms. Yet parsing code and assessing its risk against legacy configurations slows the change process to an indefensible degree.

Resources like CMDBs prove useful in balancing speed and risk - all proposed changes get routed through an automated CMDB, which tests the changed configuration virtually and reports back to programmers how the change may or may not adversely impact an asset and its network.

3. Processing Integrity
Systems charged with handling sensitive patient data or other health care information will no doubt be as multifaceted as HIPAA itself - the more eyes on them, the better to ensure unblemished operation.

Issue tracking, therefore, is a crucial element all data centers and change advisory boards must enhance and maintain. Without a centralized pipeline for funneling user incidents and problems to developers and other IT professionals behind the scenes, one missed ticket could become the spark that ignites an inferno of insecurity. Change management platforms like ChangeGear centralize requests originating from many sources, so nothing goes unnoticed, and pushes helpful information to the computer screens of the people who can make a difference.

4. Confidentiality and Privacy
We've lumped together the last two TSPs into one, for even though they each have specific definitions, advanced documentation could be a viable tool for both.

Every second counts during a data breach, and the ability to scan change logs for a chink in the configuration's armor could prove invaluable to IT staff. Furthermore, to protect health care information at a higher level, regulators may request pertinent documentation in the event of compromised security. Willingness to comply and detailed reports only help the system manager's cause.

That said, as we've touched on before, manually filling out form after form every step along an optimized change process ruins its performance, one of the reason DevOps teams and IT professionals adopted it in the first place. But when documentation is able to be automated according to in-house parameters, developers and regulators, not to mention the patients, can have the best of both worlds.

We've said it before and we'll say it again: No product on the market guarantees out-of-the-box SOC 2 HIPAA compliance. That said, investing in powerful change management tools can help IT teams construct and maintain a configuration flexible and durable enough to keep health care data on lock.

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