Audit Software Gives Hospitals 'Fair Warning'
Hospitals are turning to auditing software in response to concerns about patient information security and privacy.Privacy auditing software vendor FairWarning says it will double its customer base in 2008, as hospitals respond to security and patient information privacy concerns. FairWarning CEO Kurt Long said hospitals are faced with intense pressure from HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) to ensure that any applications that interact with patient data follow strict procedures and comply with privacy regulations. The task is daunting for hospitals, especially because so many applications access patient data, Long said, including registration desk software, applications for accounting, records from different doctors and nurses, and records from partnering hospitals and clinics.
Analysts said the pressure on health care organizations increased in 2007, when HIPAA began a series of audits with the surprise delivery of a list of 42 security and privacy requirements to Atlanta's Piedmont hospital. Other surprise audits have followed and more are anticipated. Before Piedmont, most health care organizations didn't expect that HIPAA would lead to audits. Now, however, just the mention of the infamous "Piedmont letter" can make hospital staff cringe, analysts said.