Making The Right Decisions For Your Organization: HITRUST vs HIPAA

hitrust vs hipaa

Most people believe that credit cards are the crown jewel for cybercriminals. However, the truth is that medical records are packed with personal information that offers everything necessary to steal someone’s identity.

For this reason, the healthcare industry is well-regulated. But within its tornado of stringent guidelines and complex regulations, two create a fair amount of confusion: HITRUST and HIPAA.

To help you understand the difference, we’ve created a comprehensive guide down below:

A Quick Glance at HIPAA

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is an act that outlines stringent standards for compliance. Former president Bill Clinton introduced HIPAA in 1996 to provide health insurance coverage for jobless individuals.

Today, HIPAA has evolved and expanded to strengthen the protection of personal health information. Office of Civil Rights (OCR) enforces HIPAA guidelines within the Health and Human Services segment and is known to fine organizations up to $2 million for violations.

Thus, all covered healthcare entities must adhere to HIPAA rules and regulations to avoid heavy fines and boost brand trust.

What are HIPAA’s Main Features?

Here we’ve listed the main features of HIPAA:

  • Ensures Easy Access to Medical Records- HIPAA provides patients easy access to their records and allows them to make amendments. On the other hand, it enables healthcare providers to update their files periodically
  • Disclose Privacy Protections- HIPAA requires healthcare providers and health plans to provide patients with a clear and detailed explanation outlining how they can use, share, and disclose confidential data
  • Provide the Minimum Amount of Information- HIPAA regulations restrict healthcare organizations and associated businesses from sharing unnecessary data that could potentially risk the confidentiality of patient’s personal information
  • Train Employees and Hire a Privacy Office- According to HIPAA guidelines, covered entities have to provide employees training to help them understand new rules and regulations. They also need to designate an expert who ensures that everyone follows relevant procedures

What are the Pros of HIPAA?

Here are several reasons your organization needs HIPAA:

  • Protects your organization from PIH loss
  • Prevents any form of discrimination
  • Offers patients the opportunity to contribute to their medical files
  • Requires healthcare providers to create backup data plans
  • Mandates organizations to develop strong passwords to ensure top-notch security

What are the Cons of HIPAA?

HIPAA also has its drawbacks, such as:

  • Fails to appropriately define ‘reasonable’ when it comes to reasonable access to PHI
  • Increases the paperwork for doctors
  • Created the foundation of an expensive mini-industry of consultants and businesses that help medical professionals comply with complex guidelines
  • It resulted in overcautious physicians that require patient’s to pick up paperwork in-person

A Quick Glance at HITRUST

Health Information Trust Alliance or HITRUST is a leading organization that creates and maintains a robust common security framework.

HITRUST CSF, on the other hand, addresses the different privacy and security challenges facing healthcare organizations.

To appropriately meet the needs of various medical institutions and businesses needs, HITRUST introduces a flexible and adjustable framework of scalable security controls.

CSF comprises federal, state, and national regulations and frameworks. So, it incorporates a risk-based approach that assesses the protection of relevant healthcare information systems.

What are HITRUST’s Main Features?

Let’s discuss the main features of HITRUST:

  • HITRUST CSF Assessment Preview- It offers in-depth knowledge about implications that evolve depending on new security threats
  • Improved Reporting- It helps you view compliance reporting available from various authoritative and trustworthy sources
  • Single-Page Assessment View- It provides healthcare organizations with a generalized view of the questionnaire
  • Aggregated Respondent Answers- It effectively and accurately aggregates scoring for assessment questions
  • Advanced Analytics and Dashboards- It allows you to create customized charts and dashboards
  • Improved Evidence Support- It streamlines the linking of evidence to document requests
  • Updated UI and Platform Support- It enables operability and functionality for multiple devices

Why are the Pros of HITRUST?

Here we’ve listed a few pros of HITRUST:

  • Incorporates existing standards like HIPAA, NIST, ISO, FTC, Red Flag, and more within your organization
  • Scales controls based on your unique organization needs, size, and type
  • Offers clear and actionable guidelines
  • Evolves according to changes in the healthcare industry to maximize security and effectiveness

Why are the Cons of HITRUST?

Its cons include:

  • HITRUST CSF can be quite complex, which causes companies to ignore it completely
  • Some companies treat HITRUST CSF-certification as a checklist of security requirements

Understanding the Difference between HITRUST and HIPAA

Here we discuss the differences between HITRUST and HIPAA:

  • HITRUST has a HIPAA Foundation-It extracts HIPAA’s non-standardized compliance framework and creates a comprehensive and standardized certification process for healthcare organizations and associated businesses
  • HITRUST Harmonizes HIPAA with Other Frameworks- HITRUST integrates HIPAA with PCI, NIST, and other federal compliance frameworks. It also adapts risk management requirements for certification
  • HITRUST Depends on the Healthcare Industry- HIPAA includes defined penalties, whereas HITRUST depends on the size, type, and complexity of your organization


HITRUST is a robust compliance framework that comprises many aspects of HIPAA guidelines harmonized with NIST, PCI, and more. A private alliance created HITRUST to provide organizations with an excellent way of showing evidence of compliance.

HIPAA is a set of guidelines created in 1996 and enforced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Organizations across the globe need to comply with HIPAA to protect health information.

Do HITRUST and HIPAA go Hand in Hand?

HITRUST and HIPAA combine to simplify and improve data protection and risk management for different healthcare organizations.

HITRUST effectively reduces the confusion around HIPAA compliance with its clear and actionable controls. In addition, the HITRUST CSF certification offers you a significant level of confidence in data security and sets you up as an authority.

HITRUST AND HIPAA: Are They Interchangeable?

HITRUST goes beyond HIPAA and includes NIST, ISO, FTC, and other globally recognized security guidelines.

HIPAA is crucial for data protection; however, it does not offer anything more. It does not provide medical practices with the ability to engage with complete protection plans. Cyber security threats evolve with increasing technology, making it impossible for organizations to keep up without HIPAA guidelines.

HIPAA only outlines the policies that organizations must follow, whereas HITRUST includes HIPAA safeguards alongside security and risk management guidelines from the following:

  • International Organization for Standardization
  • Federal Trade Commission
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard
  • Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology
  • And other federal and state regulations

HIPAA vs HITRUST: What are their Benefits?

Let’s discuss the benefits of HIPAA and HITRUST:

Benefits of HIPAA

It includes:

Protection against PHI Loss

HIPAA benefits your organization by serving as a layer of protection against PHI loss. Private Healthcare Information (PHI) is a severe offense that occurs whenever you put your patients or their data at risk.

Medical institutes often interact with personal and confidential health information multiple times throughout the day. Each time you handle such information, you have the opportunity to either protect or expose patient information.

However, HIPAA offers you a guaranteed procedure for ensuring everyone in your organization knows how to keep patients’ personal information secure and private. It means that HIPAA acts as an extra layer of protection for you and your employees against PHIR lawsuits.

Ensure that you appropriately implement HIPAA practices within your healthcare organization to create the perfect team. Choosing to adhere to HIPAA guidelines ensures that you’re securing private information and, ultimately, protecting yourself from lawsuits.

Increase Awareness about Patient Well-Being

For healthcare workers, the patient’s wellbeing is their priority. But most healthcare providers cannot understand the importance of information and sensitive data to a patient’s wellbeing.

Healthcare workers care a lot about patients’ wellbeing; however, they don’t remember how crucial it is to safeguard their PHI.

HIPAA Compliance gives staff members the perfect opportunity to learn how to handle patient information appropriately. In addition, it allows them to provide better customer service.

HIPAA training and understanding also allows your staff to understand better PHI’s significance and ways to protect it effectively. Plus, bringing in a team that provides HIPAA compliant services helps increase awareness of patients’ wellbeing.

Increase Patient Loyalty

Another excellent benefit of HIPAA compliance is that it helps boost patient and client loyalty. Loyalty follows trust; thus, if patients or clients know they can trust your organization, they are more likely to return.

Develop a Robust Patient Safety Culture

Your healthcare organization’s culture is crucial for the health, protection, and wellbeing of your patients and your overall success.

When private and public medical institutions implement and adhere to HIPAA programs, they can quickly develop a robust patient-centric culture.

Start by telling your facility why and how it’s essential to protect a patient’s PHI as a part of their recovery.

For instance, safeguarding a patient’s confidential data helps develop medication records, infection control, fall prevention, and more. Staff members who follow HIPAA procedures can help reduce the risk of error, which, ultimately, helps protect patients’ health by ensuring all medical records are safe.

Developing this kind of culture sets you and your organization up for success by guaranteeing you have access to appropriate tools and knowledge.

Boost Profitability

HIPAA compliance helps you boost patient loyalty, which ultimately increases your organization’s profitability.

By retaining existing patients, you can increase your recurring revenue. In this way, your institute won’t need significant amounts of new business to garner increased revenue.

Greater Satisfaction from Families and Patients

Another incredible way of boosting brand awareness and trust is by ensuring high satisfaction levels for patients and close family members.

When a patient’s family member is unhappy, the likelihood of your customer returning to your facility is next to none. And, one of the quickest ways of losing loyal patients is through security breaches.

In most cases, when a security breach occurs, the patient or a close friend or family member files a complaint. As a result, an OCR conducts HIPAA compliance audits to determine the underlying issue.

By teaching your employees HIPAA compliance, you can decrease the likelihood of undergoing these investigations. Protect your organization and foster trust by implementing a robust HIPAA compliance program.

Benefits of HITRUST

HITRUST offers organizations a variety of benefits, including:

Protection for Comprehensive Security Framework

One of the top pros of deploying a HITRUST CSF-certified system is that you can effectively implement a comprehensive security framework, including ISO, HIPAA, NIST, and more.

Because it is a comprehensive and robust framework, you won’t have to worry about implementing other guidelines. For instance, HITRUST ensures that you won’t have to conform to NIST standards by deploying a HIPAA-certified communication system.

Overall, the HITRUST CSF Certification offers you peace of mind that your patient’s confidential, private data is well-secured.

Cost and Time Effective

HITRUST and its stringent guidelines ensure tangible cost and time savings. By achieving its high standards and having a certification to show off, you reveal that you’re well-prepared for potential inspections.

HITRUST framework offers you greater visibility of the overall control framework and a better understanding of how they overlap with other regulations. Thus, when audits roll around, you can retell how you’re simultaneously meeting all crucial regulatory guidelines.

Required by Major Players

On the 8th of February, five major healthcare organizations passed a letter to business associates outlining the importance and need to deploy HITRUST security frameworks.

Today, most stakeholders and industry leaders look for a HITRUST CSF certification to validate a company’s performance and dedication.

Thus, companies need to start asking themselves what changes they need to implement to achieve and maintain HITRUST control system framework certification.

Adjustable to Meet Your Unique Healthcare Needs

Becoming a HIPAA-covered entity boasting HITRUST certification provides you with the corresponding security value and validation.

The HITRUST framework tailors control depending on your organization’s size, complexity, type, and unique business needs. With a HITRUST CSF-certified vendor, you can rest assured you’ll find controls that meet your needs rather than requiring you to adapt to pre-established rules.

An Ever-Evolving Approach

HITRUST updates and renews its framework every year to stay up-to-date with the latest regulations and security risks.

Professionals update HITRUST quarterly and annually, meaning that abiding by CSF ensures maximum security within your organization.

In addition, its updated control requirements ensure your controls remain effective against new potential threats and security breaches.

Helps Gain Credibility with Stakeholders

One incredible benefit of implementing HITRUST CSF-certified communication systems is that it makes your organization appear trustworthy and dedicated.

Using a HITRUST CSF-certified solution signifies that your top-notch organization went the extra mile to safeguard and protect patients’ confidential data.


Here we discuss the advantages of HITRUST over HIPAA:

  • Gain access to prescriptive cyber security guidance
  • Not only healthcare organizations, but various other industries like financial institutions and more also trust HITRUST
  • HITRUST boasts global recognition, whereas HIPAA is only applicable to covered entities
  • HITRUST aims to harmonize multiple regulatory standards, including HIPAA, HITECH, NIST, PCI, and more
  • HITRUST CSF creates a harmony that helps covered entities and associated businesses save time, effort, and expense
  • HITRUST framework is continually updated to ensure improvement and increased security

How Do You Become HITRUST Certified?

Here are several tips you need to remember to get HITRUST certified:

  • It’s a time-consuming task that requires you to dedicate time and resources
  • The first year after implementing HITRUST CSF can be challenging
  • HITRUST framework requires you and your business to tackle compliance against Policy, Process, Implementation, Manage, and Measures- meaning you have to consider five responses for each new control
  • You’ll have to update and renew your policies and standards often
  • Accessing the tools, reports, and premium modules to implement HITRUST can be quite costly

Who Needs HIPAA?

HIPAA applies to all kinds of health plans, clearinghouses, software and healthcare providers that transmit PHI in electronic form. More importantly, you need to be HIPAA compliant if you are:

  • Covered healthcare providers, including clinics, medical practitioners, and more
  • Health plans, such as HMOs, Medicaid, drug card sponsors, and so on
  • Healthcare clearing houses
  • Third-party administrators and private sector vendors

Who Needs HITRUST?

All major healthcare organizations across the U.S. need to comply with HITRUST. Regardless of what your business does in the healthcare world, adhering to HITRUST CSF certification is crucial.

Its ongoing yearly assessments adapt to meet new security threats and cyber-attacks. Plus, it effectively helps you reduce risk via incredible information security.

The Bottom Line

According to insightful research by Forbes, there have been more than 300 data breaches in the past ten years. Unfortunately, security data breaches can negatively impact your practice in many ways.

Despite this, data breaches are rising rapidly and are nowhere near stopping. Today, it’s more important to understand HITRUST CSF certification and its importance.

Implement HITRUST CSF certification within your healthcare organization to improve effectiveness and profitability. And if you’re looking for HIPAA/HITRUST compliant software development, Arkenea has more than 10 years of experience in developing custom healthcare software. Get in touch with us today.