Maintaining HIPAA
Compliance & Other Benefits
of Windows 10 in Healthcare

Are you ready for Windows 10?

On January 14, 2020, Microsoft will stop supporting Windows 7. For hospitals and other healthcare providers, the end of support for Windows 7 also means an increased risk of liability for HIPAA violations. Although it’s possible to purchase extended security updates through January 2023, the cost of doing so will be high and is expected to increase over time.

While this may appear to be bad news for the healthcare organizations that still use the 10-year-old operating system, it may be just the incentive you need to capitalize on the performance and security improvements offered by Windows 10.

For more information about the end of Windows 7 support and the options available, click here.

Upgrading Offers Significant Benefits

For healthcare organizations, upgrading to Windows 10 can offer many important benefits, including:

1. Better security. Information security is particularly critical for healthcare providers and their business associates, who have strict obligations under HIPAA and other federal and state laws to maintain the security and integrity of protected health information (PHI). Windows 10 has several features that help organizations meet these obligations. They include§:
  • Device and application protection tools that restrict the types of software a device can run and help defend systems against malware.
  • Identity protection tools that safeguard credentials and prevent unauthorized access, using hardware-based multifactor authentication, biometric access controls (such as fingerprints or facial recognition), and other techniques.
  • Information protection tools that automatically encrypt sensitive data across multiple devices.
  • Automated, cloud-based security patching.

Keep in mind that Windows 10 doesn’t necessarily comply with HIPAA “out of the box.” Microsoft has partnered with security software provider HIPAA One to develop detailed recommendations for configuring Windows 10 in a HIPAA–compliant manner.

2. Enhanced mobility. Windows 10 works across a variety of medical equipment, computers, tablets, and mobile devices, greatly extending the reach of mobile care. This allows doctors, nurses, and other care team members to access critical electronic medical record systems and collaborate (via voice, chat, text, or video) from virtually any location, inside or outside the hospital.

3. Improved patient care. By extending the reach of health information and collaboration, Windows 10 can help improve patient care by making it easier for patients to connect with health professionals at a convenient place and time. And, according to Microsoft, it helps improve care by creating more engaged patients: “By connecting new devices and platforms,” Microsoft says, “long-term care and chronic disease management can be extended to the home, and patients can proactively manage their health and wellness§.”

Lease Financing Can Smooth the Transition

If you plan to upgrade to new PCs or other hardware in connection with the transition to Windows 10, you may want to consider a lease financing solution. Leasing can provide a lower up-front capital investment and predictable monthly payments. It also allows you to deploy a strategic technology refresh cycle for your healthcare organization, providing employees with the latest equipment and help facilitating compliance with HIPAA.

When Should I Transition Operating Systems?

If your organization is using Windows 7, it’s important to begin exploring your options well in advance of the end-of-support date. Keep in mind that you will need time to test existing or new software and hardware before you fully transition to a new operating system.

At Huntington Technology Finance, we will work with you to craft a software upgrade and asset refresh strategy that provides our best possible mix of financial benefits, flexibility, and innovation for your healthcare organization.

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† “Windows 7 Extended Support Costs Revealed,” ITProToday, February 6, 2019.

“Microsoft to End Service for Windows 7: HIPAA Compliance Requirements,” Compliancy Group LLC, February 20, 2019

§Improve quality and extend reach of patient care with Windows 10,” Microsoft, July 29, 2015. 

“HIPAA Compliance with Microsoft Windows 10 Enterprise,” Microsoft, December 21, 2017.

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