HIPAA Data Retention In The Cloud

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that implemented national standards to protect sensitive patient health information and prevent it from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge. 

There are also HIPAA data retention laws that upgraded standards within the healthcare industry in general, helping to minimize paperwork and improve the transfer of medical records, insurance coverage, and billing information between healthcare entities. 

Of course, HIPAA was implemented long before cloud data backup was an option for organizations in need of compliance, but the same rules apply today. Below is a brief overview of what HIPAA policies entail regarding personal data—and which entities must adhere to them. 

 

Who Must Comply With HIPAA Data Retention Policies?

  • Health plans – e.g., insurance or group health plans.
  • Healthcare providers – including doctors, hospitals, and clinics.
  • Healthcare clearinghouses – entities that assist healthcare providers in standardizing various aspects of health data. 
  • Businesses and organizations that associate with HIPAA-covered entities – any person or entity whose services and activities involve the use or disclosure of protected health information (PHI) on behalf of a HIPAA-covered entity.

Types of documents that fall under the consideration of HIPAA include:

  • Medical records – any file or document containing a patient’s medical history, exam results, treatments, medications, etc. 
  • Non-medical HIPAA-related documents – any file or document issued during the actions of securing, storing, processing, or destruction of medical records.

The State of HIPAA Data Retention Laws Today

Technology, especially tech that handles data storage and backup, has changed significantly since HIPAA was first introduced in 1996—something the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 was created to address. HITECH applies to any service provider with access to protected health information (PHI) who create, receive, maintain or transmit PHI on behalf of an organization—including cloud backup providers.

HITECH includes supplementary requirements around the protection of electronic PHI (ePHI) that include aspects like secure backup, backup frequency, recoverability of data, and encryption.

What complicates things even further is that retention periods for medical data can vary depending on the state since each state sets its own policies, and furthermore, there are different federal retention period requirements depending on the type of HIPAA-related documents and data. 

 

Maintaining HIPAA Compliance with Cloud Backup

If your organization is subject to HIPAA regulations, the risk of compliance failure can be incredibly costly. Numerous companies have paid out millions of dollars to the US federal government for violations in recent years. It’s absolutely essential to depend on a cloud backup platform that can meet HIPAA compliance demands on all ends—this includes data retention policies, encryption, secured backup, and the backup frequency.

Clumio is a fully secure, cloud backup-as-a-service solution that provides organizations of all sizes with end-to-end data backup and recovery through an  interface that offers clear visibility into data retention policies. The platform helps define backup policies, automate data retention and monitors compliance in real-time, sending instant alerts when compliance may be at risk.

 

Other features that help maintain HIPAA compliance include:

  • A simple interface that shows a single, cohesive view of all assets
  • The ability to automatically apply uniform policies to existing and future resources 
  • ISO 27001, ISO 27701, SOC 2 Type 2, HIPAA, and PCI DSS certifications
  • Air-gapped storage of data backups outside of production environments to protect backups from threats like ransomware attacks

 

See for yourself how industry-leading innovation can enable your organization to achieve and maintain HIPAA compliance while also controlling cloud costs. Schedule a demo today to learn how Clumio can protect your organization’s data and ensure compliance in less than 15 minutes—no new software to install, no additional hardware to add, and no pre-planning required.