Understanding HITRUST Compliance: An Introduction

January 11, 2023

Understanding HITRUST Compliance: An Introductory Guide

Businesses in every industry must be diligent about data security. For any organization handling sensitive financial, health, or client information, it is especially important to protect data and remain in compliance with ever-evolving regulations. HITRUST compliance certification was developed to help organizations create and maintain a security posture that ensures regulatory compliance across a range of security assessments from within a single, standardized framework.

Compyl HITRUST Introduction Guide

What Is the HITRUST Compliance Common Security Framework?

The HITRUST Common Security Framework helps organizations of all sizes and industries assess and enhance their security posture based on both risk management and compliance. The HITRUST Common Security Framework is adaptable and can be scaled to recognize differences in the type, size, and systems of organizations as well as the regulatory requirements of each.

The Common Security Framework encompasses a comprehensive set of security protocols based on a variety of existing frameworks, including HIPAA, General Data Protection Regulation, Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, International Organization for Standardization, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and others. The Common Security Framework standardizes regulatory requirements across the frameworks to simplify compliance.

Bringing together existing standards from around the world and cross-referencing regulations among them allows organizations to use HITRUST to create a single assessment and set of protocols to meet or exceed a range of compliance requirements.

What Is the Difference Between HIPAA and HITRUST Compliance?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protects sensitive health information from being disclosed without patient consent. These laws guard patient privacy, specify standards of behavior for providers, health insurance companies, and billing agencies, and ensure that violations are prosecuted.

HIPAA lawsare enacted through an audit process to determine if an organization or facility is in compliance. There is no certification for HIPAA compliance.

HITRUST is a certification process that ensures you are in compliance with a variety of security regulations required by your industry on an ongoing basis. These requirements may include HIPAA regulations but are not limited to this one set of laws.

If you are HITRUST certified, your compliance is based on security requirements and risk management relevant to your business, the size and purpose of your organization, and other factors. There is no single set of regulations required for HITRUST compliance. Instead, requirements are adapted and scaled to the specific institution.

Why Would an Organization Pursue HITRUST Certification?

Attaining HITRUST certification is no mean feat. It will require dedication, focus, and time to accomplish. The benefits, however, are immeasurable. Here are a few of the top reasons to consider pursuing HITRUST.

Gain Insight into Risk

When you strive only to meet regulations so you can check off the box on a form, you are doing the bare minimum necessary for your company’s legal requirement for security. If your attention to security concerns ends as soon as you achieve compliance, you are missing an important piece of the bigger picture.

HITRUST compliance is an ongoing assessment of your security posture, which will give you insight into emerging trends and risks as they evolve and your organization grows. The wide lens of this framework allows you to perceive gaps that may exist in your security and track your progress as you eliminate vulnerabilities that you would otherwise not recognize.

Centralize and Simplify Compliance

Having all of your regulatory assessments and information organized in a central framework simplifies the process of compliance across multiple agencies. A single assessment can often satisfy several regulatory requirements, further simplifying the process.

Every organization that handles sensitive client data must comply with multiple regulations. Federal, state, and local laws govern privacy and data security for health care and financial institutions. International organizations face even more complex requirements.

Simply keeping track of compliance requirements for multiple agencies is complex. Monitoring updates and ensuring that you meet all deadlines can be daunting. The Common Security Framework allows you to track all of the relevant agencies for your organization, so you never miss a change or a filing date.

HITRUST compliance incorporates a flexible yet comprehensive approach to risk management and data security, ensuring you are prepared to meet or exceed your regulatory requirements. You can be consistently on top of relevant regulations, regardless of your industry, company size, or organization type.

Enhanced Confidence

One of the greatest benefits of HITRUST certification is customer confidence. In some industries, potential clients insist that you pursue certification as a condition of signing with you.

Even if your customers are not yet aware of what HITRUST means for their data security, having your certification is an easy way to assure them of your excellent security posture and dedication to network integrity.

HITRUST compliance means you are meeting or exceeding required regulations and actively assessing risks and monitoring your data.

Improved Data Security

The purpose of regulations is to provide a foundation for data security. Compliance indicates that you have met the minimal standards to operate your organization legally. Unfortunately, regulations are generally slow to address evolving threats. They are broadly defined and often difficult or even impossible to fully comprehend. Regulations are the bare minimum.

With HITRUST, you can achieve far more than this bottom floor of security. By leveraging all the relevant frameworks for your industry, you build a complex blend of security protocols. You can use this web of information to assess a realistic picture of your security posture and the best data management practices for your organization.

You are not just checking a box or reassuring a client that you will handle their sensitive data carefully. You are in fact improving your understanding of the risks you face and developing a powerful and efficient system of protecting yourself, your business, and your customers.

How Does HITRUST Compliance Certification Work?

HITRUST is a blended approach to data security. The framework incorporates risk management protocols and compliance requirements to determine a set of specific procedures for your organization. It is not a one-size-fits-all set of regulations, but rather a plan that builds an optimal security posture for your business.

The process begins with an assessment of your current security posture and compliance requirements. AHITRUST integrationprofessional will work with you to determine which regulations apply to your organization and set up a centralized compliance platform.

On your journey to HITRUST certification, your integration will map relevant frameworks and monitor changes and updates to ensure that your compliance requirements are kept current. Risk mitigation procedures reduce your exposure to threats, and best practices will be implemented to enhance data security.

As you learn the best practices for your industry and begin applying them to your networks, you will probably uncover some weaknesses in your previous approaches to data integrity. The point of using the HITRUST compliance Common Security Framework is to find gaps and vulnerabilities and address them. This process will take some time, but it is well worth the effort.

Once you have applied these rigorous security protocols and have adapted your practices to the standards set out for you in the HITRUST framework, you can pursue certification. The process has two stages that both need to be successfully completed before you can be certified.


An authorized HITRUST assessor will perform a validated assessment of your organization’s data security, procedures, and practices. This assessment can take anywhere from six months to a year, depending on the size and complexity of your business and which industry you serve.


Your completed assessment will then be sent to HITRUST to be analyzed and approved. Upon approval, your organization can officially be certified.

What Are HITRUST Compliance Maturity Levels, and What Do They Indicate?

As you prepare for HITRUST assessment, you will address each component of your security posture and determine how evolved your practices and systems are. Each assessment will tell you where you are in your journey toward HITRUST certification.

The goal is to “mature” every aspect of your data security to the highest and most effective level for your security controls. There are five maturity levels. Attainment of each level is dependent on successfully executing the previous level.

1. Policy

At the core of any security program is policy. This level requires that you create standardized, comprehensive, and explicit policies for all HITRUST Common Security Framework controls. Policies must be current, formalized, and actionable.

Policies must address all the relevant components for the organization. They must be approved by proper authorities and clearly communicated to all staff.

2. Procedure

The second level of HITRUST compliance maturity is procedure, which is the expression and assignment of policy. In other words, procedure will explicitly state how policy will be carried out and by whom. Procedures must meet stakeholder requirements and expectations. They must be up to date, formalized, and approved by a proper authority.

The first two levels of maturity go hand in glove. They are complementary and accomplished in unison.

3. Implementation

This level is concerned with how well procedures are implemented. Are they performed as specified by the indicated personnel? Implementation must be consistent across the entire organization, with no case-by-case exceptions or modifications.

Success at this third level indicates that the first two levels have been fulfilled as anticipated and implemented according to the policy and procedures spelled out in the first two.

4. Evaluation

The fourth level of HITRUST compliance certification requires that implementations be fully assessed and evaluated for effectiveness and efficiency over time. This level requires the organization to answer this question: How effective are your controls, and how will they be monitored and assessed in the long run?

Note that evaluation at this stage refers to internal evaluation by the organization, not an external assessment or audit. This level will take time to complete. The exact time frame depends on the size of your organization, but these metrics can’t be determined overnight even in a small and relatively simple business.

At this stage, you should be looking for trends. HITRUST compliance necessitates a determination of which processes and protocols are effective and which require changes from the original implementation to achieve the security and efficiency needed.

All assessments should be documented, clearly recording the details of the evaluation. Your record should include who completed the assessment, what it entailed when it was done, and whether the controls have performed adequately.

5. Management

The final level of HITRUST maturity is an ongoing assessment of how well the organization manages controls and your overall response to risk. Successful management requires that your business can assess the causes of risk and address them efficiently and effectively. Your management team should be capable of recognizing weaknesses in your system controls and looking for ways to improve security.

As with each previous level, management requires a thoughtful and comprehensive roadmap and careful monitoring of the outcomes. Each control must be clearly defined, specifically assigned, and diligently tracked for efficacy.

Is HITRUST Compliance Required?

HITRUST certification is not required by any industry, but virtually every organization can benefit from following this combination of risk management and adherence to relevant regulations. Certification is also not a replacement for any regulatory compliance required for an organization, but it is beneficial to anyone serious about data security.

You can achieve vastly enhanced protection of information, consistent and reliable compliance with all regulatory agencies to whom you report and insight into emerging trends and ongoing threats. HITRUST is an effective way to coordinate compliance requirements, better manage risk, and enhance the security of your data systems.

Is It Difficult To Achieve HITRUST Compliance?

The process of attaining certification requires time and a significant commitment. Most organizations find that working with a HITRUST integration specialist can make the process more transparent and much less daunting.

Your business will benefit from a centralized compliance platform and a vastly improved security posture. In addition, your clients will have greater peace of mind regarding the safety of their sensitive data.

Explore what HITRUST compliance means for your organization.Visit Compyltoday for more information or to request a demonstration. It is time to achieve your data security and compliance goals.

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