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What is HITRUST Certification? Why Does it Matter to e-Prescribers?

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Organizations in the healthcare industry realize that securing their data and complying with international standards is no longer just an option, it’s a requirement. With the increasing number of cyber-attacks, data breaches, and thefts of personal identity, certifications like HITRUST CSF are gaining popularity.

HITRUST creates and maintains a common security framework (CSF) in the healthcare sector that sets privacy, security, and compliance standards to keep patients safe Certification is a common requirement for organizations (and their business associates) that handle protected health information.

What is HITRUST?

HITRUST focuses on data security, privacy, and risk management. Established in 2007, it developed the CSF, a specially designed comprehensive data security and privacy program that manages organizational data, risk, and compliance.

To date, it’s the most widely adopted privacy and security framework across industries globally. When you certify against the HITRUST CSF, you demonstrate your organization’s compliance with the framework to stakeholders who need that reassurance. The list ranges from healthcare providers, insurance companies, and hospitals to other practices that need and value assurances.

One advantage and selling point of HITRUST CSF certification is that it has mapped different regulations and frameworks into one central repository. They include:

  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
  • Control Objectives for Information Technologies (COBIT)

It means that, when you comply with HITRUST, the framework also helps you comply with the other regulations and frameworks mentioned above. As a result, it helps you cut down on the time and effort you spend annually on compliance.

Why Does HITRUST Matter to e-Prescribers?

HITRUST matters because it helps e-prescribers manage risk and reduce the chance of data breaches. They can also prove to stakeholders and outside parties that as an e-prescriber, you take security and compliance seriously.

It’s more important than ever for healthcare professionals to protect their private data.
HITRUST includes 19 domains in its assessment for CSF certification. They cover a broad range of privacy and security concerns, and their end goal is ensuring that you have put in place all the necessary controls to reduce the risk you take during your daily operations.

To provide some context and examples, HITRUST ensures that your organization has done the following:

  • Secured all mobile devices
  • Released patches to prevent attackers from exposing network or system vulnerabilities and gaining unauthorized access
  • Reviewed your vendors’ security programs to ensure your data is safe
  • Restricting who gains elevated privileges to your network

The framework ensures that you have business continuity, breach response, and disaster recovery plans.

The HITRUST CSF certification includes the following platforms: e-prescribing, Electronic Prior Authorization, Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS), Medication History of Reconciliation, Real-Time Prescription Benefit, Medication History for populations, and Insights for Medication Adherence.

By incorporating a risk-based approach and including state and federal regulations, and standards, HITRUST CSF helps organizations address data privacy and security challenges through a flexible and comprehensive framework of scalable and prescriptive security protocols.

Benefits of HITRUST CSF Certification

All major healthcare payers in the country require HITRUST compliance, no matter what your organization does. As of 2016, the five major healthcare payers in the U.S. required their business associates to have HITRUST CSF certification. Additionally, over 90 other healthcare payers now call for their third–party vendors to get certified.

While undergoing HITRUST CSF certification, you can uncover existing gaps in your organization’s controls and determine what you need to do to close them and reduce your overall risk.

HITRUST CSF is a continuous program, which is an added value to your practice. You see, you must recertify every two years and execute interim checkups that randomly select different controls to determine if you still adhere to them. Hence, a continuous program gives you annual reassurance that all your controls operate effectively and that you remain compliant with all regulations.

The framework provides healthcare-covered entities and their vendors with much-needed insights into how they can and should handle security risks. It enables them to have clear-cut, actionable strategies for taking a proactive approach to data protection, privacy, and security risk mitigation.

The ongoing assessments and recertification processes continuously adapt to meet emerging security threats and cyber-attacks. HITRUST regularly revises and updates its Common Security Framework to ensure that healthcare organizations remain up-to-date with new regulatory guidelines and security risks.

What e-Prescribers Should Know about HITRUST

HITRUST provides two assessment options to organizations.

  • The first is a readiness assessment – also called a self-assessment or gap assessment. It allows you to determine whether the controls you have put in place meet the framework’s requirements and what you are missing. It also identifies what to do to address the gaps.

  • The second option is a validated assessment that is mandatory to achieve certification. Only a HITRUST Approved External Assessor must conduct the evaluation. Assessors use the framework’s assessment methodology and scores the controls using a maturity approach to control implementation.

Because of the comprehensive and sensitive nature of the framework, the process of certification is extensive. To start the journey, you must first adopt the Common Security Framework (CSF) and its updates.

Throughout the process, you must ensure that you create, follow, document, and implement hundreds of procedures and policies. Furthermore, to remain compliant, you must have the right technologies and protocols in place.

Although the process is costly, a lack of compliance can have devastating ramifications for your organization.

The Bottom Line

You can now appreciate why HITRUST CSF Certification has a lot of weight behind its name – and why organizations that handle personally identifiable information require the certification from their third-party vendors.

The mission of HITRUST is to establish a holistic approach that the healthcare industry can use to manage information security risks. Because it combines many different security standards, such as PCI, COBIT, HIPAA, HITECH, FTC, and NIST, it acts as the central gatekeeper. It has become the gold standard for the healthcare industry’s compliance framework.

NewCropRx is an electronic prescribing systems provider that is HITRUST CSF Certified and offers several services, including electronic prescriptions for controlled substances (EPCS). Contact us to request additional information and learn how you can keep your PHI at its most secure.