Healthcare Information Security Officer

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The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires that physician offices, clinics, and hospitals keep the medical records of patients protected from unauthorized access and from security breaches. HIPAA’s security rule definitely has heightened awareness in the healthcare industry of the need for security policies and designated security officials, both of which are required by HIPAA. This is why more and more healthcare companies and organizations are relying on the Healthcare Information Security Officer.

The primary responsibility of the Healthcare Information Security Officer is to ensure that electronic medical records are kept secure. To accomplish this the Officer writes policies covering the handling of electronic medical records, assesses the safety of records, runs and evaluates security tests, and implements any changes that are needed in the existing computer hardware and software to restrict unauthorized access and data breaches.

The Officer must have an understanding of the major software programs available for processing medical records and must have experience with analysis, design, and construction of health IT standards, systems, and processes. The Officer will have demonstrated experience with data architecture, program implementation and integration, system administration, and data migration. It is important that the Officer understands and ensures adherence to the organization’s policies and quality standards.

General Educational Requirements

Most employers require Healthcare Information Security Officers to have a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree in the field of Management Information Systems or Information Technology with healthcare-related courses. Some employers require a Master’s Degree, including an MBA, with a focus on technology. Most employers require up to eight years of related experience. Industry certifications and annual competency tests generally are required.

Additional Qualifications

The skill sets of the Healthcare Information Security Officer have evolved beyond the typical technical side to include a business risk management perspective. The effective Healthcare Information Security Officer needs strong written and verbal communication skills, leadership skills, and problem-solving and analytical skills. A Healthcare Information Security Officer must stay up to date with State and federal laws covering medical information security. The Officer also should have good documentation practices, strong knowledge of medical product information, and a working knowledge of medical terminology.

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