Are there any certifications for software platforms handling HIPAA Protected Health Information?

by | Jun 23, 2023 | HIPAA News and Advice

Yes, there are certifications for software platforms handling HIPAA Protected Health Information, such as the HealthIT Certification for electronic health record (EHR) systems, which ensures compliance with the HIPAA Security Rule and the ONC Health IT Certification Program for healthcare software products. Software platforms play an important role in managing and storing PHI, and as such, there are certifications available to verify their compliance with HIPAA standards.

Certification and Factors for
Choosing Software Platforms
Key Details
Health IT CertificationFocuses on EHR systems.
Validates EHR capabilities related to interoperability, security, and usability.
Ensures secure handling of PHI within EHR systems.
ONC Health IT Certification ProgramEncompasses various healthcare software products beyond EHRs.
Evaluates compliance with technical standards and implementation specifications.
Emphasizes support for electronic health information exchange.
Not Direct HIPAA Compliance CertificationsCertify alignment with technical requirements, not HIPAA compliance directly.
Validates that software platforms meet criteria in line with HIPAA standards.
Scope ConsiderationsHealth IT Certification primarily applies to EHR systems.
ONC Health IT Certification Program covers a wider variety of healthcare software products.
Vendor CommitmentEvaluate vendor commitment to compliance and security.
Certifications indicate a dedication to providing secure solutions.
Ongoing Compliance EffortsRecognize that certifications evolve; compliance requirements change.
Ensure vendors commit to ongoing compliance and adapt to regulations.
Security MeasuresAssess specific security features implemented by the software platform.
Look for encryption, access controls, audit trails, and intrusion detection.
Business Associate Agreements (BAAs)Establish BAAs with software vendors.
BAAs outline vendor responsibilities for safeguarding PHI and ensuring compliance.
Patient Data ProtectionCertifications enhance data confidentiality and integrity.
Align software platforms with HIPAA regulations for patient data security.
Vendor SelectionCarefully select software vendors based on certifications and commitment to data security.
Consider the organization’s specific needs and scope.
Adaptability to Regulatory ChangesEnsure selected platforms can adapt to evolving regulatory requirements and maintain compliance.
Table: Certification and Factors for Choosing Software Platforms

Given the complexity and sensitivity of healthcare data, software platforms that handle PHI must adhere to the HIPAA Security Rule rigorously. Achieving HIPAA compliance is a process involving many steps, and there are certifications available to verify a software platform’s alignment with these standards.

Health IT Certification is one certification sought by software platforms in the healthcare industry. Offered by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), this certification focuses on the capabilities and functionalities of electronic health record (EHR) systems. While it does not directly certify compliance with HIPAA, it helps to ensure that EHR systems are equipped to handle PHI securely. The Health IT Certification program evaluates EHR systems against specific criteria, emphasizing interoperability, security, and usability. EHR systems are evaluated for their ability to securely transmit and receive patient data, maintain the confidentiality and integrity of ePHI, and provide essential functionalities to healthcare providers. By obtaining Health IT Certification, EHR vendors demonstrate their commitment to providing healthcare organizations with tools that support HIPAA compliance. Healthcare professionals can rely on these certified EHR systems as a foundational component of their efforts to protect PHI.

The ONC Health IT Certification Program extends beyond EHR systems and encompasses a broader range of healthcare software products. While not a direct certification for HIPAA compliance, it evaluates the capabilities of software products in supporting the exchange, access, and use of electronic health information. This program assesses software products’ adherence to specific standards and implementation specifications, including those related to privacy and security. By undergoing this certification, healthcare software vendors can demonstrate that their products are designed to meet the technical requirements necessary for HIPAA compliance.

Healthcare professionals tasked with selecting software platforms for managing PHI should consider several factors when evaluating certifications and compliance. They need to determine whether the certification aligns with the specific needs of the healthcare entity. Health IT Certification is primarily focused on EHR systems, while the ONC Health IT Certification Program covers a broader range of software products.

It is necessary to assess the commitment of the software vendor to compliance and security. Vendors who invest in certifications and regularly update their products to meet evolving standards are more likely to provide secure solutions. Certifications are not static and compliance requirements evolve over time. Ensure that the software vendor demonstrates a commitment to ongoing compliance efforts and the ability to adapt to regulatory changes. Evaluate the specific security measures implemented by the software platform. Look for features such as encryption, access controls, audit trails, and intrusion detection. Healthcare professionals should also establish Business Associate Agreements with software vendors. These agreements outline the vendor’s responsibilities in safeguarding PHI and help ensure compliance with HIPAA.


Certifications for software platforms handling HIPAA PHI, such as Health IT Certification and the ONC Health IT Certification Program, play an important role in ensuring the security and compliance of healthcare software products. While these certifications do not directly certify HIPAA compliance, they validate that software platforms have met specific technical standards and criteria that align with HIPAA requirements. Healthcare professionals should carefully evaluate certifications, consider the scope of their needs, and collaborate with vendors who prioritize the protection of patient data in their software solutions. By doing so, they can enhance the security of PHI and maintain compliance with HIPAA regulations in an ever-evolving healthcare landscape.

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