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Vendor Security Assessments: Understanding the Basics

Published January 28, 2022 by Fatima Mian

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Breaking into the digital health landscape can be challenging, even for vendors that have experience dealing with protected health information (PHI) or meeting HIPAA compliance requirements.

Unfortunately for vendors, many healthcare enterprises have experienced breaches in data due to third-party client leaks. This has changed the vetting process for onboarding healthcare enterprise clients, making it far more complex and thorough in recent years.

To avoid unnecessary risks to data integrity, third-party digital health solution vendors looking to partner with large healthcare enterprises are now asked to complete vendor security assessments before entering into any formal agreements.

But what are vendor security assessments, and why are they so critically important? Understanding how VSAs work, as well as finding ways to complete them quickly and efficiently, are vital for your success as a vendor within the healthcare industry.

What are Vendor Security Assessments (VSAs)?

Vendor security assessments, also known as ‘third party risk assessments’, ‘security questionnaires’, or simply VSAs, are a list of questions that are created by healthcare service organizations.

VSAs are usually created by IT or Security Leads within the enterprise. The VSAs are sent to prospective vendors in order to evaluate the privacy and security measures that the vendor currently has in place.

These are seen as a necessary burden of proof that innovation leaders within the healthcare system use to safely integrate new vendors into their existing systems.

While many of the questions that you’ll find in these assessments are similar, they are usually worded uniquely to the enterprises that are using them.

VSAs can be very extensive, often including hundreds of questions. This helps the enterprise get a well-rounded, holistic view of their vendors’ current ecosystems, as well as their best practices.

Why are Vendor Security Assessments (VSAs) important?

At their core, VSAs are a fantastic method for streamlining the information collection process that’s necessary for large enterprises to ensure their protected health information remains secure.

It also helps guarantee that all third-party vendors partnering with the enterprise have strong network security, and that they’re meeting all the process requirements for auditing and compliance.

Proving HIPAA Compliance & Other Requirements

There are a number of security and privacy compliance requirements that you could be asked to verify in addition to HIPAA. Some of these may include:

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards
  • Other Data Security Standards (DSS)

By guaranteeing ahead of time that HIPAA compliance requirements, as well as any other necessary compliance frameworks are being met, enterprises protect themselves from partnering with vendors that will increase their risk of confidential data breaches.

Adding Value for Startups

Not only are VSAs important to protect enterprises from potential data risks through third party vendors, but they hold value for startups, as well.

If you’re a startup that’s only just begun working within your industry, or you’re just starting to approach larger enterprise clients with your services, VSAs allow you to hone your own in-house resources for future applications.

It’s vital as a vendor that you be able to provide accurate, concise information when requested by a potential customer, and VSAs allow you to create streamlined answers that can be converted for use in future applications.

Going through the VSA process also allows you to make sure that all the different parts of your business are working within your industry-specific regulations.

Understanding where there may be gaps in your own processes and compliance practices allows you to address them quickly, before they begin costing you the opportunity to partner with, sell to, and onboard healthcare enterprise clients.

Protected Health Information for Healthcare Enterprises

Of course, the most valuable aspects of a VSA relate to ensuring that protected health information remains protected, even after new third party vendors are able to access this confidential information.

It also puts processes into place to establish things like how the vendor will respond in the event of a potential data leak, or how their service will remain active in the event of an outage.

These protections give healthcare enterprises the peace of mind to be able to bring third party vendors into their secure networks and utilize their apps and services, without having to worry about putting valuable, secure information at risk.

MedStack is Committed to Ensuring Privacy & Security for Digital Health

We Take the Stress Out of Completing Your VSAs

VSAs can be a large resource burden, with each one requiring many hours – sometimes days – to complete. MedStack makes this process faster and easier, allowing you to send your VSAs directly to us.

Our AI-powered proprietary answer library can answer up to 90% of compliance-related questions for you – and its adaptability is increasing every day.

MedStack has already helped complete hundreds of assessments from major enterprises across North America, with the backing of our real-time updated, inheritable policies, as well as our built-in security and privacy controls.

Stop wasting your time, energy, and resources focusing on paperwork instead of your product. Let MedStack put your business on the fast track to growth and take your application from zero to healthcare hero. Book a free discovery call today.

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