The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was enacted in 1996 to ensure the security of patient health records and other vital information in the health industry. Since then, the HIPAA has remained relevant for many health providers and other related firms up to this day.

HIPAA healthcare security rules can be complex and overwhelmingly strict, which is why the HITRUST was created. The Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) is a feasible and refined option for vendors, healthcare providers, and covered entities.

But even with HITRUST, medical practices and other covered entities still have some questions and concerns. What exactly is HITRUST? How is HITRUST different from HIPAA? How can medical practices leverage this framework? This blog answers these questions and more.

What Is HITRUST?

HITRUST is a privately held company founded in 2007 that helps organizations and covered entities effectively manage data, compliance, and information risks. Like HIPAA 1996, HITRUST keeps an eye out for cybercriminals looking for healthcare data.

HITRUST is associated with other organizations, technology, and information security leaders and has established a common security framework (CSF) that healthcare providers who store and access sensitive health data can use. The CSF includes a standard set of controls that seek to combine the requirements of multiple regulations and standards.

HITRUST is an industry-driven project to help healthcare providers easily meet HIPAA security laws through a common and certifiable framework for covered entities. Simply, HITRUST supports medical practices with HIPAA compliance, especially regarding telemedicine. Understanding this is vital because many people confuse them as the same, but they are distinct and different.

What Is The Difference between HITRUST and HIPAA

It is critical for every healthcare provider to know what differentiates HITRUST from HIPAA. Even if they’re closely related, they are not interchangeable.

1. Perhaps the most notable difference is that HITRUST is a private organization comprised of healthcare providers, insurance companies, health tech companies, and other related bodies. In comparison, HIPAA is a law enacted by the US government.

2. HITRUST develops on HIPAA. It takes HIPAA, a non-prescriptive and non-standardized compliance framework, and creates an assessment, standardized compliance framework, and certification process for all the medical providers.

3. HITRUST balances HIPAA because it includes other compliance frameworks such as payment card security (PCI) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). HITRUST also adapts certification requirements to an organization's risks based on system and organizational factors.

4. In contrast to HIPAA — which has defined penalties for security breaches — covered entities like health plans, payers, and healthcare providers require HITRUST CSF Certification of vendors because the healthcare industry commits itself to the enforcement of HITRUST. HIPAA does not provide certifications for compliance. HIPAA provides rules covering covered entities that should abide by to secure Protected Health Information (PHI). HITRUST runs an assessment of security, privacy, and regulatory challenges and provides certificates when certain conditions are met. HITRUST CSF certification can be a more rigid process than a HIPAA audit.

5. Attaining HITRUST CSF Certification requires more substantial resources, time, and effort than a HIPAA audit. Being HITRUST CSF Certified is viewed as a more significant badge for security and compliance than completing a HIPAA audit.

While HITRUST does not replace HIPAA, it can provide measurable criteria and objectives for applying the "appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards" of HIPAA.

How does HITRUST compare to HIPAA?

HIPAA is a set of guidelines, and the HITRUST CSF provides a binding set of controls that meet the requirements of security standards such as NIST, PCI, and HIPAA. For this reason, HITRUST has become a valuable resource for risk management and compliance for healthcare practices that handle sensitive data. HITRUST versus HIPAA is never an ideal scenario; instead, the two help and complement one another.

The best way to guarantee HIPAA compliance is a proper external audit. When working with third-party organizations, covered entities require business associates to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA), which states the business implements the proper security controls to secure sensitive data.

HITRUST CSF certification provides a more reliable and consistent way for healthcare organizations and other medical practices to ensure that their business associates are compliant. A few major healthcare payers already stipulate their business associates must comply with the HITRUST CSF. The certification also provides huge confidence and a layer of trust for patients.

HITRUST CSF provides medical practices and other covered entities with a comprehensive, industry-designed cybersecurity framework to remove any confusion over compliance and regulation issues. Through the incorporation of many other frameworks, the HITRUST CSF offers universal data protection. Choosing a HITRUST-certified IT provider reduces confusion and provides ease when handling sensitive health data. In recent years, data breaches throughout the healthcare industry have been increasing, which has helped raise awareness of compliance and regulations. Having HIPAA-compliant telemedicine software such as Curogram can help your practice avoid cyber attacks by securely storing sensitive healthcare data. Ready to get compliant? Contact Curogram.

The Differences Between HITRUST and HIPAA