The terms “HIPAA compliant software” and “HIPAA compliance software” are often used interchangeably by software vendors – often causing confusion among Covered Entities and Business Associates looking for either specific or suitable solutions for complying with HIPAA.
There is a distinction between the two terms in that “HIPAA compliant software” is normally an app or service that meets a business’s obligations under HIPAA for one specific task- for instance transferring data to the cloud securely or communicating PHI within a secure network.
“HIPAA compliance software” is usually an app or service that guides a business through its compliance efforts. This sort of software can either help with specific elements of HIPAA compliance (i.e. Security Rule risk assessments) or supply a total solution for every element of HIPAA compliance.
Unwise to Use Shortcuts for HIPAA Compliance Software
Whereas “HIPAA compliant software” is normally designed to carry out one task in compliance with HIPAA – and vendors explain clearly how their software is HIPAA compliant – explanations of what “HIPAA compliance software” includes can be comparatively vague.
With many compliance solutions addressing specific elements of HIPAA compliance, it is vital for Covered Entities and Business Associates to be aware of which elements need addressing before entering into a contract with a software vendor.
HIPAA compliance software that guides you through the risk assessment path is a good place to begin, provided the risk assessments cover every aspect of HIPAA and not just the Security Rule. This will help you spot gaps in your compliance efforts and the measures that need to be implemented to resolve the gaps.
However, although this may be a more cost effective short-term option than implementing a total HIPAA compliance solution, it may mean you then have to identify another vendor to assist you with gap remediation and policy implementation, or employee compliance training, or incident management. Eventually the shortcuts cost more than the thorough solutions.