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HITRUST Assessments: How To Best Prepare For One and Conduct Affordably

Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) amalgamates relevant regulations and standards into a single security and privacy framework. It provides organizations with a flexible and comprehensive approach to complying with regulatory standards and risk management. The HITRUST CSF (cybersecurity framework) draws on security controls from federal laws like HIPAA, NIST, state laws, and industry standards into a certifiable framework that focuses on cybersecurity, privacy, and regulatory challenges in healthcare organizations.

As per a research report, 93% of healthcare organizations faced data breaches over the last three years. The thoroughness of HITRUST CSF addresses security issues in all industries and streamlines the compliance process, reducing the time and cost of achieving compliance with multiple standards. Furthermore, it provides a concrete structure, guidance, and transparency to organizations for achieving data protection and cybersecurity compliance.

For a HITRUST assessment, every control in the organization undergoes documentation, analysis, tests, and validation from an authorized external assessor and ultimate evaluation from HITRUST. In addition to this, each control assessment is as per the five-level HITRUST maturity model. The intricate framework adds more structure and consistency to the compliance readiness assessment.

In this article, let us explore more about how to prepare for the HITRUST readiness audit and its cost.

How To Prepare For a HITRUST  Assessment

HITRUST assessment ensures that the organization’s cybersecurity controls can withstand inherent threats and support resiliency. It also shows that the healthcare organization is committed to managing risk, improving its security posture, maintaining active incident response plans, and complying with the regulatory standards. Authorized external assessors conduct the HITRUST assessments as per established protocols.

Therefore, it is necessary to perform these assessments in partnership with an authorized external HITRUST readiness assessor. After submitting the evaluation to the HITRUST for quality assurance review, a HITRUST CSF Validated Assessment is issued.  

Self-assessment or HITRUST compliance readiness is an intelligent step before the validated assessment. It helps discover weak spots in the organization’s security and privacy programs. An organization can perform the HITRUST readiness audit through internal personnel or the expertise of an external HITRUST readiness assessor. These assessments are lengthy.

Therefore, it is necessary to prepare with enough time to begin the fieldwork, testing, and handling any remediation before the validation and HITRUST quality assurance. Preparation for the HITRUST readiness assessment starts with selecting the project coordinator who would steer the process and the team toward meeting the goals and expectations of the assessment.

Here are some steps to prepare for the HITRUST assessment:

  • Setting goals and defining the project’s scope helps establish boundaries for better management and control of the assessment process. For instance, figuring out which systems or departments within the organization is under the assessment or identifying the devices or technologies that store access or transmit sensitive data.
  • Every employee working with regulated data across the organization must understand and comply with the HITRUST certified framework. Maintaining transparency and expectations from the beginning reduces the chances of any issue arising later.
  • Gather and review supporting documents necessary for the assessment. Reviewing documents helps to identify patterns and scopes for improvement.
  • Performing system tests are the final step to evaluating and ensuring that the organization is compliant with the HITRUST CSF system controls. This step also helps to detect any breaches or accidental employee errors at the earliest to make possible corrections.

Costs Associated with a HITRUST Assessment

The HITRUST certification is a continuous process that promotes improvement. Considering this as a long-term investment that supports a robust, comprehensive risk management program, it’s beneficial. 80% of U.S health insurers and other covered entities leverage the HITRUST approach. The average cost of a HITRUST readiness ranges from around $25,000 – $50,000.

The compliance readiness, remediation, and certification are three components that comprise the total cost of a HITRUST assessment. While compliance readiness is an initial step to determine the scope and identify gaps, the remediation part dwells on the technology, procedure, creation of incident response plans, and resources to meet the requirements. On completing the above two sections, the organization is HITRUST certified, including the assessment cost and additional fees paid to HITRUST.

The total cost of HITRUST assessment depends on the size and scope of the organization, system complexity, locations, and control maturity. HITRUST assessment is necessary as it reduces the chances of data breaches significantly. It provides a standardized way to assess and manage risks and represents that the organization prioritizes security.

The cost of HITRUST certification is higher than others because it is comprehensive, rigorous, and highly reliable. External assessors must receive HITRUST approval for carrying out assessments or offering services to other organizations. The HITRUST readiness assessor CSF practitioners must follow stringent requirements, complete a training course, pass an exam to get certified and maintain it with annual refresher courses. It provides organizations with trained resources and ensures reliability in the assessment and certification process.


With HITRUST readiness assessments, healthcare organizations can evaluate their security and privacy programs to reduce cyber risks. At the same time, the readiness assessment may seem like a challenging process. However, it is necessary to identify gaps in policies, procedures, or implementations and rectify all the vulnerabilities. In addition, well-defined roles and responsibilities result in a smooth, streamlined engagement during the readiness audit.

As the HITRUST certification process is time-consuming, organizations can seek guidance from authorized external experts. These experts are knowledgeable about current compliance requirements and recommendations. As a result, organizations can better clarify their overall security posture and work on a comprehensive action plan to achieve HITRUST certification with expert guidance

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