Importance of PCI DSS Compliance in Healthcare

Are your vendors and organization PCI DSS compliant?

March 29, 2023
Importance of PCI DSS Compliance in Healthcare

Healthcare organizations are responsible for handling sensitive information when providing care to their patients. From a compliance perspective, it is crucial to maintain the confidentiality, integrity and secure accessibility of data. One of the many data compliance standards associated with patient care is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).  

PCI DSS is a set of security standards designed to ensure that all organizations that accept, process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. In healthcare, PCI DSS compliance is essential because the majority of payments are made with credit cards. In addition to traditional payments received directly from patients, organizations who secure patient assistance through foundations and manufacturer copay programs also deal with data that falls under PCI DSS.  

Healthcare organizations must comply with PCI DSS requirements such as maintaining a secure network, protecting cardholder data, maintaining a vulnerability management program, implementing strong access control measures, regularly monitoring and testing networks, and maintaining an information security policy.

How do you validate if your organization or vendor is PCI DSS compliant?

It is important to note responsibility of compliance lies with the organization itself and thus vendors accepting, transmitting, or storing credit card information must be included in your assessment.

There are a total of 12 requirements comprised of over 300 sub-requirements embedded within the compliance standards. PCI DSS requirements allow organizations to self-attest compliance, but this can create risk and the best practice is to partner with a qualified security assessor (QSA). Some organizations or vendors will go a step further and work with a QSA to secure a report on compliance (ROC) which is the most stringent assessment of compliance.

Why is it important to work with PCI DSS-compliant vendors?

Compliance with these standards can be challenging, but it's crucial to ensure that patients and their data are protected. Non-compliance of PCI can result in increased payment processing fees, hefty fines and an increased likelihood of breach which results in the loss of reputation and patient trust.

  1. Protects patient privacy: By encrypting patient financial and personal information, healthcare organizations can reduce the risk of exposure to cybercriminals.
  1. Strengthens HIPAA compliance: PCI DSS prescribes more stringent security requirements for overlapping HIPAA obligations. Ongoing PCI compliance sets up healthcare organizations to exceed HIPAA compliance requirements.  
  1. Helps to prevent data breaches: PCI DSS helps healthcare organizations build a network the requires multiple levels of security which makes it difficult for cybercriminals to attack.
  1. Prevents damage to reputation: By maintaining strong security measures over patients’ financial information, healthcare organizations can avoid the bad press and reputation that comes along with data breaches.
  1. Reduces costs: Healthcare data breaches cost an average of $10.1 million which can be detrimental to certain healthcare organizations.

In conclusion, PCI DSS compliance in healthcare is a critical step in ensuring the confidentiality, integrity and availability of sensitive patient information. There are likely a variety of locations within the organization that are subject to compliance. Cash posting, patient assistance, intake, registration, etc., may all be areas where PCI DSS compliance is required. It's essential to prioritize security and maintain compliance with the latest standards to protect patients’ and the organization's reputation.