Risk Assessment Vs. Risk Management
An organization’s entire strategy for locating, assessing, and countering possible risks to its information systems, including Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) in the context of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance, includes both risk assessment and risk management. Although they are related, these ideas have different functions and involve various procedures, which are crucial for developing a thorough security program.
The systematic process of locating, examining, and evaluating the risks that an organization confronts with regard to its information systems and the data they hold is known as “Risk Assessment”. The main objective is risk assessment is to assess how various risks and vulnerabilities may impact the organization’s assets, notably ePHI. The organization’s resources, including its hardware, software, and data, as well as the staff and management strategies utilized to manage those resources, are listed as the first phase of this process.
Finding the threats to these assets is the next step in the risk assessment process. Malicious attacks, hardware malfunctions, natural calamities, or human mistakes are a few examples of these hazards. Threats can originate from a variety of places, such as intentional employee acts, insider threats, and external hackers. Once threats have been identified, the risk assessment process requires the organization to identify its vulnerabilities, which are weak points in its systems, processes, or personnel that threats could exploit to cause harm. This may involve reviewing system configurations, policies, procedures, and training to identify gaps in security.
After identifying threats and vulnerabilities, the risk assessment process requires the organization to analyze and evaluate the risks associated with each threat-vulnerability pair. The likelihood of a threat exploiting a vulnerability and the potential impact on the organization’s assets are often taken into account in this study. This research results in a prioritized list of risks, which helps the organization focus its resources on addressing the most urgent issues.
Contrarily, “Risk Management” is the ongoing process of choosing, implementing, and supervising adequate security measures. Its objective is to bring down to a reasonable level the risks identified during the risk assessment. The four main stages of risk management are prioritizing risks, managing risks, monitoring risks, and communicating risks.
Utilizing the findings of the risk assessment, risk prioritizing entails choosing which risks should be addressed first while taking into account elements like the possible impact on the organization, the chance of occurrence, and the available resources. This process helps the organization allocate its resources effectively and efficiently to address the most significant risks.
“Risk Treatment” is the process of selecting and implementing security measures to reduce the identified risks. These actions, often known as controls or safeguards, might be either administrative, physical, or technical in nature. Depending on the type of risk and the organization’s risk tolerance, the decision to mitigate, transfer, accept, or avoid the risk is necessary to be made. Risk mitigation involves implementing controls to reduce the likelihood or impact of a threat exploiting a vulnerability. Risk transfer involves shifting the responsibility for managing the risk to a third party, such as an insurer or a business associate. Risk acceptance involves acknowledging the risk and deciding to accept it without implementing additional controls. Risk avoidance involves eliminating the risk by discontinuing the activity or process that creates the risk.
“Risk Monitoring” involves the ongoing evaluation of the implemented security measures to ensure their effectiveness and continued relevance. As part of this, the risk assessment and risk management systems may undergo routine audits, reviews, and updates. The organization’s risk environment may also be observed for changes or new threats.
The practice of alerting relevant parties – including employees, management, and business partners -about the organization’s risk management initiatives is known as “Risk Communication”. This may involve providing training, sharing policies and procedures, or reporting on risk management activities.
In conclusion, risk assessment and risk management are two essential, interrelated processes in an organization’s approach to securing its information systems and protecting sensitive data, such as ePHI. While risk assessment focuses on identifying, analyzing, and evaluating potential threats and vulnerabilities. Follow this link for best practices in employee training for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance.
The health organization should conduct a thorough Security Risk Assessment (SRA) to properly assess the risk factors and manage them. Failure to do so could be detrimental to healthcare organizations and all their related entities – promoters, patients, third-party vendors, etc.