Since its implementation in 1996, HIPAA has shaped much of how medical care is given, recorded, and how those records are protected. Because so much personal health information (PHI) is stored on desktop or laptop computers, the operating system (OS) must be secure to meet HIPAA standards. This means receiving security updates and patches when they are released, and if you’re running Windows, Microsoft takes care of that for you.
Bad News for XP Users
Beginning April 8, 2014 Microsoft will no longer support their Windows XP Operating System. This means they will no longer release those security updates and patches necessary to keep the OS in HIPAA compliance. Although ending support is a normal part of the operating system “life cycle,” the fact is that Windows XP was a popular OS and is still used on an estimated 37.74% of active PCs, second only to Windows 7. Healthcare providers and their businesses are sure to be a part of that statistic, and April 2014 will be here before you know it.
What to Do?
Bite the bullet and upgrade. Windows 7 is a good option and is a relatively easy transition for most users. Microsoft will be supporting Windows 7 through 2020, keeping the OS HIPAA compliant for the next 7 years. It may seem like a large undertaking, especially if your office uses multiple PCs and licenses, but the security and compliance justify the switch. If you are an In Charge Office Solutions client, we can assist with the transition (ask us how).