The Importance of Technical Safeguards for Protecting PHI in the Cloud

As a healthcare technology executive, you face the critical challenge of protecting sensitive data. Protected Health Information (PHI) stands at the core of this challenge, as it encompasses the most intimate details of patients’ lives.

With data breaches not only risking patients’ privacy but also shaking the very trust upon which healthcare institutions are built, the role of technical safeguards becomes not just a technical necessity but a cornerstone of ethical responsibility.

According to the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), safeguards are the designated protective measures and controls that are put in place to fulfill the specified security requirements of an information system. These safeguards cover security features, management constraints, personnel security, as well as physical structure, area, and device security.

Why are Safeguards Important? 

Safeguards are like your cloud infrastructure’s immune system, protecting it from internal misconfigurations and external threats. Safeguards are important in all industries, especially healthcare, to prevent errors and benefit from cloud services. Safeguards, if used correctly, can determine the success and safety of a system.

They are like an inbuilt watchdog, constantly scanning and confirming that everything adheres to set compliance frameworks. Safeguards highlight the importance of understanding the intricacies of healthcare cloud environments.

Cloud Reference Architectures (CRAs) provide blueprints and best practices to help navigate the usage of cloud services. Safeguards are extensions of these practices – protective measures ensuring the proper deployment of these systems with no open issues. Safeguards are the technical controls that translate regulatory requirements into a language that machines understand. Healthcare-specific regulations such as ISO, GDPR, and HIPAA guidelines require safeguards to ensure cloud resources comply with these important frameworks.

This complex protection process involves continuous evaluations against cloud infrastructures to ensure everything is functioning as it should. It is not just about the storage, but also about ensuring safe transmission, access, operation, and protection of patient data.

How You Can Implement Safeguards Effectively

Though we wish there were just one recipe for cloud security, there are a lot of options out there to consider. If you combine different sets of resources, remember to consider their interactions and connections, especially from the identity layer to the network layer, the processing layer, down to the data layer.

At ClearDATA, we take a holistic approach and dedicate ourselves to meticulously pondering healthcare use cases. We examine commonly deployed methodologies in healthcare organizations, including the handling of various components, the optimal arrangement of services, and the utilization of CRAs.

Safeguarding your cloud infrastructure is a decades-long investment. You need to understand cloud usage in specific industries, like healthcare, including its resources and details. Cloud providers have made exciting progress, but in complex industries like healthcare,  the journey to the cloud is seldom seamless for most healthcare organizations.

We created a thorough and free Cloud Risk Checkup using robust safeguards that operate seamlessly across AWS, Google Cloud, or Azure. Our comprehensive assessment identifies potential vulnerabilities and provides a course of action for improvement.

The Cloud Risk Checkup gives you:

    • A comprehensive evaluation of your cloud infrastructure
    • Prioritized list of your most critical cloud risks
    • Compliance with frameworks like HIPAA and HITRUST
    • Expert guidance on addressing threats

Over a two-week period, we evaluate your environment’s security and compliance posture. This in-depth evaluation offers additional insights into the dynamics of your cloud space. Take control of your cloud security today.

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