by Kapua Iao
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What is a business impact analysis?

by Kapua Iao

Spectacles in front of laptop with design code on the screen

A business impact analysis (BIA) is a process that helps an organization determine and evaluate the potential effects of a problem on its operations.

Such problems could be due to a disaster, accident, or emergency. A data breach could fall into any of these categories.

Some within the healthcare industry probably wonder how a BIA applies to covered entities. As we know, several HIPAA guidelines address the need to anticipate cybersecurity risks to patients and their protected health information (PHI).

RELATED: HIPAA Stands For . . .

And that’s exactly what an impact analysis would do: predict the effects of problems and improve an organization’s risk management.

So let’s explore this issue further. What is a BIA, why is it important to healthcare, and what does it have to do with email security (i.e., HIPAA compliant email)?

What is a business impact analysis?

A BIA is a process that “predicts the consequences of disruption” to an organization. It gathers together useful information on likely problems and how to recover from difficult situations.

It is the first step of a business continuity plan (BCP), which organizations use to discover, avoid, and mitigate risks. This is because such processes play a huge role in risk management as well as disaster planning and recovery.

RELATED: Healthcare Business Continuity Management and Disaster Recovery

A BIA is largely comprised of two stages: exploration (find/reveal and evaluate vulnerabilities) and planning (prepare a report and develop strategies to minimize any risk).

Tools available during the exploratory component can include questionnaires, surveys, and group or one-on-one interviews. The idea is to gather information about possible liabilities from direct sources.

This is where a tool such as threat modeling, which identifies security threats and vulnerabilities, would play a big role. What/who are your threats and how problematic are they to your organization?

RELATED: How to Determine Your Attack Surface in the Healthcare Sector

The planning component, in turn, organizes what to report from the exploratory phase and what to highlight about impacts and challenges.

Both stages are vital to creating a BIA. Without solid information laid out in an easy-to-read report, an impact analysis would not be helpful for proper risk management.

HIPAA, healthcare, and risk management

HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is U.S. legislation created to improve healthcare standards.

Covered entities and their business associates must be HIPAA compliant to protect the rights and privacy of patients and their PHI.

RELATED: Understanding and Implementing HIPAA Rules

And under the HIPAA Security Rule, a risk assessment—the second step of a BCP—is mandatory for all healthcare providers.

Generally, a risk assessment examines organizational impacts and evaluates the amount of risk and how to stop the effects of such risks.

For healthcare providers, that also means including proper administrative, physical, and technical safeguards for complete PHI protection.

To effectively manage risk under HIPAA, an organization would then need to perform an impact analysis to even know the problems (i.e., the risks) to focus on. To even know what safeguards are necessary.

Imagine what could happen to a hospital or its patients if the organization does not use proper risk management tools from the beginning.

Avoid the worst-case scenario

A session at Paubox SECURE @ Home in 2020 explored the importance of planning and what could happen if such processes were avoided. For a healthcare organization, a cyberattack may be disastrous even beyond the loss of data, exorbitant ransom payments, and/or fines due to a HIPAA violation.

Patients (and the public in general) may lose faith in the healthcare provider. Hospitals may have to close down temporarily or permanently. And patients may inadvertently die.

And imagine how tough such vulnerabilities and impacts become during a pandemic.

RELATED: Healthcare Data Breaches – A Haunting Reality

Utilizing risk management tools means being prepared for possible network shutdowns by having a backup plan. It means minimizing risks to patients and their PHI.

Creating a continuity plan that includes a BIA and risk assessment helps a healthcare organization function uninterrupted. Even during a disaster, accident, or emergency.

Paubox—email security as risk management

And something always needed for risk management: email security. This is where Paubox helps. Paubox Email Suite Plus enables employees to send HIPAA compliant emails while blocking incoming phishing emails and other threats. It requires no change in user behavior.

No extra logins, passwords, or portals to wade through. Just protected email communication to stop your messages from becoming future problems and vulnerabilities.

And with our HITRUST CSF certified solution, all outbound emails are encrypted and sent directly from your existing email platform (such as Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace).

If it isn’t obvious, all healthcare organizations must start utilizing risk management tools today. Protect yourself, your staff, and your patients from future adversities.

In other words, utilize proper analyses, such as a business impact analysis, from the beginning to avoid future stressors, fines, and shutdowns.

Try Paubox Email Suite Plus today.