Whether you’re a seasoned tech professional or a novice, the nuances of healthcare technology compliance requirements detailed in regulations like HIPAA, HITRUST, and HITECH may make your head spin. Although healthcare IT legislation has been around for decades, many businesses still struggle to keep current amid evolving healthcare technologies. In this article, we’ll demystify the complex topic of HITRUST requirements and explain why meeting HITRUST requirements is important to safeguarding your organization’s security and privacy programs.
What is HITRUST?
HITRUST, short for Health Information Trust Alliance, is an information security framework and certification program that helps healthcare businesses meet industry-standard compliance requirements. HITRUST was formed by leaders across the healthcare, technology, and information security industries in 2007 to address the increasing threats and risks associated with protecting sensitive healthcare information.
HITRUST CSF (Common Security Framework)
HITRUST developed the HITRUST CSF (Common Security Framework) that incorporates and consolidates various regulations, including HITECH and HIPAA, into one comprehensive framework, helping organizations achieve full compliance with multiple regulations more efficiently. That’s right, you can take a moment to pause for a sigh of relief knowing HITRUST is not another set of security requirements you have to implement in your business, rather, it’s a tool to help you achieve all the other established healthcare IT regulations.
The HITRUST CSF is structured in a layered, or hierarchal, manner with the following main components:
- Control Categories: At the core of the framework are 19 control categories. Each control category addresses a specific area of concern regarding information security and privacy management. These categories cover a wide range of topics, including access control, risk management, incident response, asset management, and more.
- Control Objectives: Each control category contains control objectives that provide high-level goals that organizations should strive to achieve within each control category.
- Control Requirements: Control objectives are broken down into detailed control requirements. These requirements provide specific guidelines and metrics that organizations need to implement in order to fulfill the control objectives. Think of control requirements as the action steps to implementing your compliance plan.
The framework is also scalable and adjustable, offering different implementation and maturity levels based on the size, type, and complexity of your organization.
What is a HITRUST Certification?
Businesses that have successfully implemented the HITRUST CSF can obtain a HITRUST certification. A HITRUST certification is an industry-recognized validation awarded to organizations demonstrating robust healthcare information security and compliance practices.
In addition to the peace of mind you gain knowing your business has lowered its risk of costly data security breaches, a HITRUST certification also provides a competitive edge by demonstrating to stakeholders, customers, and regulators that your organization follows rigorous healthcare data protection and information security standards.
Our team of experts created this FREE HIPAA compliance checklist so you can know where your organization stands.
HITRUST Certification Process and Requirements
The HITRUST certification process involves several steps designed to help organizations meet the requirements of the HITRUST CSF:
- Scoping: First, determine which control requirements from the HITRUST CSF are applicable to your operations and environment. Identify the control categories and objectives that align with your specific business processes and information systems. Tools like the HITRUST Academy can help you determine the scope of your upcoming certification process.
- Assessment: Next, perform an in-depth assessment of your organization’s compliance against the list of control categories, objectives, and requirements you’ll need to implement. This assessment can be performed using self-assessment tools provided by HITRUST, or by partnering with an organization that helps facilitate HITRUST audits, such as Provisions Group.
- Remediation: If the assessment identifies any areas of non-compliance, work to address these issues and implement the necessary changes. During this time, it’s important to maintain documentation that demonstrates your work towards achieving compliance with the HITRUST CSF requirements. This includes documenting policies, procedures, evidence of control implementation, assessments, and other relevant work.
- Validation: Once you’ve addressed all the identified issues, have the changes validated by an approved HITRUST assessor. This validation evaluates the organization’s compliance with the control requirements, implementation levels, and maturity levels you selected during the scoping step.
- Certification: You did it! If the validation process confirms compliance with all HITRUST controls, you are then awarded a HITRUST certification. The certification is valid for two years, after which you’ll have to complete the process again for a renewal certification.
What is the cost of a HITRUST certification?
The cost of obtaining a HITRUST certification can vary widely depending on several factors, including the size and complexity of your organization, the scope of the assessment, the number of systems and assets to be assessed, the level of implementation required, the readiness of your existing security controls, and whether you choose to work with external consultants or assessors.
Here are some costs you should be prepared for when working towards a HITRUST certification for your organization:
- Assessment Fees: Engage a qualified HITRUST assessor who will guide you through the certification process, conduct the assessment, and validate your controls.
- Implementation Costs: Organizations often need to invest in implementing security controls and measures to achieve compliance with the HITRUST CSF. The cost can vary depending on the complexity of the controls and the systems they cover.
- Remediation Costs: If gaps or deficiencies are identified during the assessment, you may need to invest resources in fixing these issues, which could include implementing new security measures, updating policies, or improving processes.
- Resources and Staff Time: Preparing for and participating in the assessment process requires significant time and effort from your staff. Remember, you’ll need help with documentation, preparation, implementation, and remediation efforts.
- Third-Party Services: Some organizations hire third-party consultants to assist with the HITRUST certification process. These consultants can provide guidance, expertise, and additional resources.
- Maintenance: After obtaining certification, there are ongoing costs associated with maintaining compliance, such as continuous monitoring, policy and procedure updates, and costs associated with renewal.
How Long Is the HITRUST Certification Process?
The entire HITRUST certification process for an average-sized business can typically take anywhere from 6 to 12 months from the start of the process to receipt of certification, though it could extend longer if there are complexities or delays.
Here’s a general timeline breakdown of the process:
- Scoping: 1-2 months
- Assessment: 2-4 months
- Remediation: 1-3 months
- Validation: 1-2 months
- Certification Issuance: 1-2 weeks
While the process can seem daunting and time-consuming, remember the primary goal should be to achieve a thorough and accurate assessment that ensures the security of patient data and sensitive information. Working with experienced consultants who are familiar with the certification process can help streamline the assessment and guide you through the necessary steps.
How to Get Started
If you’ve made it this far, you know healthcare IT compliance is essential to businesses today. With Provisions Group, your healthcare facility can be on the cutting edge of patient care, offering the critical infrastructure support and compliance assessments necessary to provide secure data access and resources to your medical and hospital staff. We’ll bring our 20 years of knowledge as well as our trusted advisors, architects, engineers, consultants, strategists, and administrators to formulate and implement new technologies that complement your existing investments. Schedule a 15-minute call today!
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