Your small business operates in the private sector so government regulation compliance is something you don't often think about. Small businesses encounter government regulations more often than they expect, and the consequences of failing to comply can be devastating on a small budget. Examine who you work with and what kind of data you handle; you might find you need compliance after all.
HIPAA Compliance for Private Businesses
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA, applies to anyone in the health care industry who deals with sensitive patient information. Title II is the part of the act you're concerned with; it covers electronic safety and patient information transmission. If you've ever taken patient insurance or dealt with that data, then you need to comply with HIPAA. Whether you provide health care doesn't matter so much as to what kind of patient information you take and how you store and submit it to other agencies.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, if you send certain patient information electronically, then you need to comply with HIPAA. Your business may not be a health care business, but if you work with other health care businesses you may also need HIPAA compliance. When health care businesses work with non-health care entities, those other businesses must have a business associate contract that complies with HIPAA's regulations, even if that business doesn't handle insurance and patient data. Liability for failure to comply with HIPAA rules and regulations falls on business associates as well as health care providers.
Cybersecurity Under FISMA for Private Businesses
The Federal Information Security Management Act, abbreviated as FISMA, originated in 2002 and is a set of cybersecurity standards that all government agencies must follow. Because governments are at particular risk for cyber attacks, following FISMA has become a matter of extreme importance and national security. Private businesses may be thinking that FISMA could never apply to them, but when a private business works with the government in any capacity that private business must also comply with FISMA. This includes government contracts.
FISMA compliance is complex but can be boiled down to some main points to help you understand the requirements, and helpful FISMA compliance programs walk you through the finer points. It centers around monitoring and protecting your data, especially data that is stored in the cloud. You'll need to come up with a security plan, which probably includes training your employees, keeping an updated inventory of the programs and systems in your cloud, assessing risk, and continuously monitoring your system.
Be Prepared to Invest
The government agencies and large businesses working with regulation compliance hire legal teams and experts. You don't have those resources but you should create a budget to enlist software, a lawyer, or an outside company to make sure you're complying correctly. The legal fees and fines you'll face if you mess up will be higher than the budget you create to prepare yourself.
You don't want to be blindsided by government fines for failing to comply with regulations. Be diligent if you take government contracts or work, even tangentially, with a health care organization or provider.