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What is SOC 2 compliance?

What is SOC 2 compliance?

SOC 2 is an auditing procedure that ensures healthcare providers securely manage data to protect patient privacy. SOC 2 compliance demonstrates a commitment to handling patient information with the highest standard of security and confidentiality.


Understanding SOC 2 Compliance

SOC 2, or Service Organization Control 2, is a framework for evaluating and reporting on the controls and processes that organizations implement to ensure the security, availability, integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of data. It was developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and is widely used to assess the trustworthiness of service providers, particularly those that handle sensitive information for their clients.

Go deeper: What is a security operations center (SOC)?


The five trust service principles

SOC 2 compliance is based on five trust service principles:

  1. Security: SOC 2 compliance assesses the safeguards to ensure data security. This principle encompasses everything from access controls to encryption protocols and physical security measures. It ensures that patient records are protected from data breaches and unauthorized access.
  2. Availability: In healthcare, system downtime can have life-or-death consequences. The availability principle of SOC 2 compliance ensures that healthcare systems and data are accessible when needed. It evaluates redundancy, disaster recovery plans, and system uptime, all crucial for delivering uninterrupted patient care.
  3. Processing integrity: Processing integrity ensures that healthcare systems accurately process data. SOC 2 compliance scrutinizes the processes in place to maintain data accuracy and integrity.
  4. Confidentiality: Patient data confidentiality is a cornerstone of healthcare ethics. SOC 2 compliance scrutinizes the measures to protect sensitive information from unauthorized disclosure. This includes access controls, data encryption, and employee training.
  5. Privacy: Healthcare providers must comply with strict regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to safeguard patient privacy. SOC 2 compliance assesses the controls and policies that ensure healthcare organizations comply with these privacy regulations.

Related: HIPAA Compliant Email: The Definitive Guide


Why SOC 2 matters in healthcare

Protection from data breaches 

Data breaches in healthcare can lead to devastating consequences. SOC 2 compliance offers a robust shield against these threats by ensuring that healthcare organizations have comprehensive security measures. It helps prevent unauthorized access and data theft, safeguarding patient trust and reputation.

In the newsArietis Health reports MOVEit vulnerability data breach impacting 1.9 million 


HIPAA compliance

SOC 2 compliance aligns closely with HIPAA requirements. By achieving SOC 2 certification, healthcare organizations can demonstrate their commitment to patient data privacy and security. This can simplify the compliance process for HIPAA and other regulatory frameworks.


Efficiency and reliability

Healthcare providers relying on digital systems can ensure these systems are highly available and efficient. SOC 2 compliance's focus on availability and processing integrity can prevent costly system downtime and data inaccuracies.


Competitive advantage 

In a competitive healthcare landscape, SOC 2 compliance can be a differentiator. It sets a healthcare organization apart by showcasing its dedication to data security, attracting patients and partners who value this commitment.

Related: SOC2 certification or HITRUST?


Steps to Achieving SOC 2 Compliance

While SOC 2 compliance offers immense benefits, achieving it is a comprehensive process. Here are the steps healthcare professionals can take to embark on this journey:

  1. Scope definition: Define the scope of your SOC 2 audit. Identify the systems, processes, and data that fall under the compliance assessment.
  2. Select trust principles: Determine which of the five trust service principles are relevant to your healthcare organization. This choice will shape the audit process.
  3. Risk assessment: Assess potential risks and vulnerabilities in your systems and processes. 
  4. Implement Controls: Implement controls and security measures to address the identified risks. This may involve improving access controls, encrypting sensitive data, or enhancing disaster recovery plans.
  5. Documentation and policies: Create comprehensive documentation and policies that outline your security and privacy practices. Employees should be well-informed and trained in these policies.
  6. Pre-audit readiness assessment: Conduct a pre-audit readiness assessment to identify gaps or weaknesses in your compliance measures.
  7. Hire an auditor: Engage a certified SOC 2 auditor to conduct the audit. The auditor will review your controls and practices and provide a report.
  8. Address findings: If the audit reveals areas of non-compliance, work to address these findings and improve your data security measures.

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