by Veronica Sparks
Article filed in

Is AWS ElasticSearch HIPAA compliant?

by Veronica Sparks

AWS company logo

As a healthcare business, it’s crucial to ensure privacy and security not only when it comes to sending HIPAA complaint email, but also when safeguarding any stored or accessed data that contains protected health information (PHI)

A data breach can be a major violation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, so any software a covered entity or business associate uses must be HIPAA compliant. 

While AWS ElasticSearch has become a must-have for businesses with large amounts of data to manage, is it HIPAA complaint?

What is AWS ElasticSearch?

As the simplest explanation, ElasticSearch is a fast and highly scalable search engine. It uses complex logistics and internal architecture to organize large volumes of data and deliver quick search results, but its framework makes its uses quite varying. 

Many companies use ElasticSearch to monitor applications, as well as to store, process, and analyze large amounts of data quickly and easily. Amazon Web Services (AWS) ElasticSearch is fully managed by AWS. 

SEE ALSO: Is Amazon Web Services (AWS) HIPAA compliant?

What is a business associate?

A business associate is a person, business, or organization that performs tasks, functions, or services involving protected health information on behalf of the covered entity. Common functions of a business associate include:

  • Billing tasks
  • Utilization review
  • Data processing, administration, or analysis

The need for the business associate agreement

Business associates aren’t automatically required to be HIPAA compliant, so it’s important for covered entities to have a signed business associate agreement (BAA) with any business associate. This holds the business associate accountable and ensures that they comply with HIPAA regulations when dealing with protected health information. 

What does a business associate agreement contain? 

HIPAA outlines specific requirements for a BAA for the relationship and services of the business associate to be in compliance with the Privacy Rule. There are 10 provisions that must be included in the language of the contract. These provisions deal with who can access the PHI, technical safeguards that must be in place to protect data, and other compliance items. 

Is AWS ElasticSearch HIPAA compliant?

Because data security is so important when it comes to HIPAA compliance, we set out to determine whether or not AWS ElasticSearch is HIPAA compliant. What we found is that, while the service is HIPAA eligible, AWS maintains that compliance is a shared responsibility between itself and its customers. 

Conclusion

For healthcare businesses, a BAA with AWS is necessary in order to operate AWS ElasticSearch and manage data in a HIPAA compliant way. 

Ensure electronically sent data is secure with Paubox

HIPAA violations often occur when information is being shared electronically via email by healthcare businesses. Ensure you are sending HIPAA compliant email with Paubox Email Suite

Paubox Email Suite requires no adjustments in email processing for the sender or the recipient since emails are automatically encrypted and delivered directly to the recipient’s inbox. No password or portal is required to access the emailed information. 

Furthermore, Paubox Email Suite integrates with Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft Exchange for a smooth and flawless transition for your team.

Try Paubox Email Suite for FREE today.