A Brief Introduction to HITRUST

The Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) was born out of the belief that information security should be a core pillar of, rather than an obstacle to, the broad adoption of health information systems and exchanges.

HITRUST, in collaboration with healthcare, business, technology and information security leaders, has established the HITRUST CSF, a certifiable framework that can be used by any and all organizations that create, access, store or exchange personal health and financial information.

CSF Provides Controls and a Framework to Support HITRUST’s Goals

HITRUST collaborated with various leaders in business, information security, technology and healthcare to create and develop the HITRUST CSF, which is a certifiable framework that was designed to bring balance and harmony to accompany bold new changes in data collection, storage and sharing.

The HITRUST CSF framework combines relevant information from existing healthcare standards and regulations in the federal sphere (HIPAA and HITECH), third-party (PCI and COBI) and government (NIST and FTC). By dissecting the regulations from various regulating parties and extracting the relevant points, HITRUST and healthcare-related industry leaders have built a powerful and easily understood framework.

CIOs and other information technology leaders can understand and follow the set of controls and regulations laid out by CSF for full compliance. With these controls in place, information technology managers can face HITRUST assessments with confidence.

HITRUST CSF Provides a Comprehensive and Flexible Mapping Key in Data Security

Development of the HITRUST CSF intends to bring harmony to the combined idea of open system data sharing and information security. The HITRUST CSF has done just that by mapping all the existing standards together, including HIPAA and PCI, while making the HITRUST CSF the central and pivotal mapping key that helps keep all the standards and regulations in balance.

Consider the fact that HIPAA is often thought of as “prohibitive” and regulation-heavy without allowances and means to share data, the HITRUST CSF sets controls that give healthcare entities the opportunity to share data within a safe framework. CSF’s flexible, friendly and efficient approach makes it easier for information technology managers to maintain high-quality standards while allowing the free flow of healthcare information.

What Should You Know About HITRUST CSF?

Before you begin your next HITRUST CSF assessment, or before you try to obtain certification, it may help you to set out some guideposts to help you understand how to approach a HITRUST CSF assessment and what you may find throughout the process.

  • Cross-references regulatory agency standards, such as those for HIPAA, HITECH, NIST, ISO, PCI, FTC, COBIT and State laws, as well as business standards and global standards.
  • Scales controls to allow for any size and level of complexity in an organization.
  • Lays out prescriptive elements to offer solid guidance.
  • Offers a risk-based approach to assessments with various methods of implementation to accommodate an organization’s specific system and needs.
  • Gives options for the adoption of alternate controls when needed.
  • Changes to reflect individual organization’s user input and updates in the healthcare industry and via regulatory bodies.
  • Provides an across-the-board industry-wide approach to regulations to keep healthcare entities on the same page.

With such a structured embodiment of the governing bodies and their regulations, as well as a comprehensive peer-based chronicle of issues, you can regularly perform health assessments, plan and manage remediation strategies and report all tracking and compliance.

The HITRUST CSF Structure

Rather than designing broad spectrum focal points, the architects of the HITRUST CSF created a series of highly specialized controls and domains. By separating each of these specific areas, it is easier to pinpoint problems so you can quickly and accurately reassess and make corrections to your information security system.

CSF Domains

The HITRUST CSF uses 19 domains to make it easier for you and your team to isolate data protection concerns.

  • Information Protection Program
  • Mobile Device Security
  • Endpoint Protection
  • Wireless Protection
  • Portable Media Security
  • Password Management
  • Transmission Management
  • Configuration Management
  • Network Protection
  • Vulnerability Management
  • Data Protection and Privacy
  • Risk Management
  • Third Party Security
  • Access Control
  • Incident Management
  • Education, Training and Awareness
  • Assessment Logging and Monitoring
  • Business Continuity and Data Recovery
  • Physical and Environmental Security

CSF Controls and Levels of Implementation

The HITRUST CSF has defined 135 controls for information security, breaking them down into three separate levels of implementation. Each of the three levels of implementation builds comprehensively on the level before it, so level two contains all of level one’s controls, for instance, making level three the strictest level since it features the largest number of controls and requirements for compliance certification. Most organizations use a variety of levels of implementation, according to their specific data protection needs.

The Risks of Not Fulfilling HITRUST CSF Requirements

The healthcare industry has become increasingly vulnerable to data breaches. The Ponemon Institute reports that a staggering 90 percent of healthcare organizations suffer data breaches due to outside criminal activities and internal negligence.

An average $1 million price tag for healthcare organizations, due to these infiltrations, means that you have to work just as hard to keep cyber criminals out as they work to try to break into your system. Protecting valuable patient and other confidential data is a critical factor to maintaining trust among your business associates and patients when dealing with electronically collected and stored data.

Ensure the Tightest Information Security by Enlisting Expert Help for Your Next HITRUST CSF Assessment

When you adhere to HITRUST CSF requirements, you can take comfort in knowing that you have covered all bases. However, with a rapidly changing technological landscape that requires frequent regulatory updates, as well as having a full daily roster of IT responsibilities, it may help you to consult a team of specialists for your next HITRUST CSF assessment. I.S. Partners, LLC. assessment associates can help you ensure optimal readiness, perform intensive assessments, and create an effective remediation strategy.

Contact us today by calling 215-675-1400 or request a HITRUST quote to learn more about how we can help with your next HITRUST CSF assessment.

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