SharePoint Online is not explicitly certified as HIPAA compliant. However, Microsoft offers certain features and configurations that can help organizations align with the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) requirements and use SharePoint in a manner that is compliant with HIPAA regulations. It’s essential to note that compliance with HIPAA depends not only on the technology used but also on how the technology is implemented and how data is handled by the organization. Here are some key points to consider when using SharePoint for handling HIPAA data and information:
- Business Associate Agreement (BAA): If you are using SharePoint Online, you will need to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with Microsoft. The BAA establishes the responsibilities of each party concerning the handling of protected health information (PHI) and ensures that Microsoft agrees to adhere to HIPAA requirements when processing PHI on your behalf.
- Data Encryption: SharePoint Online supports data encryption both in transit and at rest. This encryption helps protect PHI from unauthorized access.
- Access Controls: SharePoint provides various access control mechanisms, including permission settings and user authentication, which can help restrict access to PHI to authorized individuals only.
- Audit Trails: SharePoint allows you to track and log user activities, which can be helpful for maintaining an audit trail of access and changes to PHI.
- Data Loss Prevention (DLP): Microsoft 365 includes Data Loss Prevention policies that can help prevent the accidental sharing of sensitive information, including PHI.
- HIPAA Compliance Configuration: Although SharePoint doesn’t offer a specific “HIPAA-compliant” mode, it’s crucial to configure SharePoint and Microsoft 365 services in a way that aligns with HIPAA requirements. This may involve restricting external sharing, enabling Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), and implementing other security measures.
- Employee Training: Ensure that all employees who handle PHI through SharePoint are appropriately trained on HIPAA regulations and best practices for handling sensitive information.
Before using SharePoint or any other technology platform to store or process PHI, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough risk assessment and consult with legal and compliance experts to ensure your organization is meeting all relevant HIPAA requirements.