The need to protect patient data is one of the biggest challenges for all healthcare organizations. Particularly given the demands made by The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This act regulates how companies should handle patient data and what happens if they fail. As we’ll see, HIPAA compliant VPNs are vital in meeting these regulatory demands.
A virtual private network ensures information safety and privacy by encrypting data and hiding IP addresses. That way, your and your clients’ data stays secure and confidential. Moreover, a VPN will prevent malicious actors from breaching and taking advantage of sensitive information.
What is HIPAA compliance?
To put it plainly, HIPAA covers the handling of PHI (Protected Health Information). It includes such sensitive data as:
- Phone number
- Email address
- Medical record number
- IP address
- Biometric identifiers
To stay compliant, businesses and health institutions need special tools, such as reliable VPNs, to protect sensitive data and ensure overall security.
Is VPN HIPAA compliant?
While there are a plethora of VPNs that claim to be HIPAA compliant, not all of them are telling the truth. A reliable service should have a spotless reputation and top-tier security features.
So, if you’re a medical practitioner working from home, you’ll need a VPN that can ensure the security and privacy of your information. Here are a few HIPAA VPNs for personal use:
- NordVPN – the best VPN that you can pick. It’s fast, secure, and undoubtedly private. With premium plans, you’ll also get useful add-ons, such as password manager, data breach scanner, and 1 TB of cloud storage.
- Surfshark VPN – excellent service if you want to protect a vast amount of devices. The service went through security audits and passed with flying colors. You can also grab the Surfshark One package, which ensures total safety.
- Proton VPN – a security-first service with impeccable performance. The company also offers loads of other safe solutions, such as mail, calendar and drive.
How VPNs ensure HIPAA compliance?
The main mission of a HIPAA VPN is to protect your information. One of the HIPAA requirements is to ensure clients’ data by encrypting various messages and files. A virtual private network does that exactly. It creates a safe virtual tunnel that allows the information to pass without interceptions. Thus, hackers, snoopers, and other malicious third parties won’t be able to get the precious files.
Moreover, there should be technical policies and procedures that only allow authorized personnel to access ePHI. That’s where HIPAA compliant VPNs with centralized cloud management platforms come into play. That way, administrators can create customized user access to sensitive data. That includes SaaS services, cloud environments, and sandbox & production environments.
Lastly, various health institutions must implement procedural mechanisms to record and examine access and other activity in information systems containing or using ePHI. Trustworthy HIPAA VPNs can identify risks and vulnerabilities to your system and data. Plus, activity reports will provide insight into which resources are being accessed, what applications are being used, and how much bandwidth is being consumed.
Choosing a HIPAA compliant VPN service: What you need to know
You need to be extra careful when picking a VPN for HIPAA compliance. The majority of services won’t provide must-have features that should ensure your data safety. So, if you want to avoid any breaches and calamities, pick a super safe VPN that offers:
|Impregnable security:||A HIPAA compliant VPN should use the toughest encryption ciphers like AES-256, quantum-resistant encryption, and ChaCha20. Additionally, the service should offer a kill switch and IP & DNS leak protection to prevent unexpected disasters|
|Reliable and audited privacy policies:||Your virtual private network shouldn’t collect any data, so a strict zero-logs policy is vital. Plus, the service should be based outside Fourteen Eyes jurisdiction to avoid data retention laws. And ideally, a VPN should provide proof that they don’t keep any logs by performing third-party audits.|
|Fast and sound tunneling protocols:||To ensure the smoothest workflow and information security, choose a VPN that provides open-source VPN tunneling protocols, such as WireGuard or OpenVPN. Moreover, you can trust some proprietary tunneling protocols like NordLynx.|
|Well-rounded device compatibility:||For maximum comfort, a HIPAA compliant VPN should work on the most popular OS and devices. Plus, it should give you an unlimited amount of connections. And undoubtedly, pick a service with a centralized management platform.|
|Additional features:||If you want to keep your company and information secure, you need a VPN that offers things like 2FA, Biometric authentication. Moreover, you should look for dedicated IPs, threat detectors, and other similar features.|
A quick guide to meeting your HIPAA requirements
We probably don’t need to spell out every single clause in HIPAA. If you’re reading this, you’re probably already well aware of what the Act contains and what demands it makes from healthcare organizations. But it’s always handy to refresh what we know, especially before assessing some solutions that might be employed.
- Know who is covered. HIPAA covers both Covered Entities (CE), which generally provide physical care for patients and gather data as a result of appointments and procedures. But it also covers Business Associates (BAs), which may have no direct contact with patients. So even if your company provides equipment or data services to healthcare organizations, HIPAA needs to be factored into your security measures.
- Physical protections. All HIPAA-authorized organizations must have procedures in place which govern physical access to computers and other devices that store or access patient records. This would include things like remote working and the use of SD cards or other removable media.
- Protection against record changes. Technical procedures have to be documented and implemented, which ensures that any changes to patient ePHI are logged and transparent. This also encompasses disaster recovery processes to ensure that patient records are secured from theft or harm in emergency situations.
- Access controls. It probably goes without saying, but a core component of HIPAA compliance regards user ID control. Anyone with access to healthcare records must be properly authorized. This also covers data protection via encryption and authentication software.
- Network security. If companies use extended networks or Internet-of-Things technology as part of their operations, this hardware has to be secured from external threats. Any methods of data transmission have to be protected in this way, including on and off-site storage, intranets, and physical hardware.
How to ensure HIPAA compliance?
Meeting HIPAA compliance requirements can seem daunting for healthcare managers, especially at first glance. However, when you break it down, the conditions stipulated by HIPAA are just a variation of standard cyber and network security.
- Self-audits. HIPAA requires annual audits of the organizations to assess Administrative, Technical and Physical gaps in compliance.
- Remediation plans. Entities and business associates must implement remediation plans to reverse any compliance violations.
- Policies, Procedures, and employee training. Both parties must develop Policies and Procedures corresponding to HIPAA standards. Employees must get annual training on these policies and procedures.
- Documentation. Organizations must document all efforts taken to become and continue being HIPAA compliant.
- Business Associate Management. Entities and business associates must document who, when, how, and why PHI is being accessed.
- Incident Management. Both parties need to have measures in case of a data breach.
Best business VPN for HIPAA compliance
If you’re looking for a tool to ensure HIPAA compliance on a company level, we have a few great solutions:
- NordLayer. The best service to ensure HIPAA compliance. It also has apps for all major OS, so you won’t have to worry about compatibility. Plus, it’s super secure, private, and easy to use.
- Perimeter 81. This provider will surely encrypt your data and make your business HIPAA compliant. It also offers loads of other cybersecurity tools that will be extremely handy.
- GoodAccess. Great tool for small businesses to meet HIPAA requirements. It’s fast, secure, and shouldn’t break the bank.
So, sourcing a HIPAA compliant VPN service has many advantages. However, not all VPNs are ready to meet the demands of HIPAA compliance, so choose wisely. But rest assured: having a good VPN is absolutely vital for all healthcare companies.
A trustworthy service should offer gold-standard encryption, fast tunneling protocols, and a rock-solid no-logs policy. Moreover, things like Cloud integration, excellent multi-device compatibility, and dedicated IPs are vital for ensuring HIPAA compliance.
What tools do you use to meet HIPAA compliance requirements? Let us know in the comments!
How to be HIPAA compliant?
One of the easiest ways to ensure HIPAA compliance is by using a VPN. A trustworthy service will encrypt your data, provide various security features, and provide secure authentication methods. That way, you’ll easily meet HIPAA compliance requirements.
What is the best HIPAA compliant VPN?
One of the best VPN options for small businesses is NordLayer. It’s an excellent and super secure VPN that will help you meet HIPAA requirements. Other options that you can try are Perimeter 81 and GoodAccess.
Can I use a free HIPAA compliant VPN?
While you can use a free VPN for HIPAA compliance, we highly don’t recommend that. Free services have loads of vulnerabilities and terrible security features. Therefore, your business won’t be HIPAA compliant. Therefore, for personal use, we suggest using a top-tier VPN, such as NordVPN.