HIPAA Security Rule and Home Workers

LCP_remote-pc-accessThe number of staff that work from home has continued to increase at benefit fund offices as it has with many other organizations. While this can be beneficial for both the Fund office and the remote worker, it also poses HIPAA related security concerns. Lack of security in the home computer environment can lead to a fund office network breach and/or unauthorized access to electronic personal health information (“ePHI”).
Without proper policies and security in place the following can occur:

  • Lack of a firewall or an improperly configured DSL or cable modem could allow unauthorized access by a hacker to the home worker’s computer. Once the hacker has gained access to the computer they could possibly use the connection to access the fund office network.
  • Depending on the security in effect, it may be difficult to prevent a home worker from copying files from the fund office network to the home worker’s PC. If there is any possibility of this happening, the home worker’s computer should be encrypted similar to the PC encryption at the fund office. This would help prevent unauthorized access to ePHI if the computer were to be stolen
  • Lack of sufficient and up to date Microsoft security patches could allow unauthorized access by a hacker to a home workers computer. Once the hacker has gained access to the computer they could possibly use the connection to access the Fund office network.

These are just a few examples of potential security issues that can occur. Only through proper policies, staff training and technical safeguards can these threats be kept to a minimum. We recommend that HIPAA covered entities establish the same policies for home computers as they do for computers located at the fund office premises. Click here for a document by the Department of Health & Human Services which provides additional guidance to HIPAA covered entities that provide remote access to ePHI.

LaSalle Consulting Partners can help you develop and implement policies that help safeguard ePHI. Please contact me at 312-361-3313 if we can be of help.

LaSalle Consulting Partners, Inc.
200 W Madison St | Suite 940 | Chicago, IL 60606 | 312-361-3326