To many of those in the field of HIPAA software and HIPAA hosting, being forced into using any particular solution or implementation is less than ideal. One of the ways in which covered entities often feel that they are “nickel-and-dimed” is in the matter of software licensing. A piece of software that interacts with or stores HIPAA Compliant data is necessarily going to need to use many technologies to accomplish more than the most rudimentary of tasks. In many cases, such as with various database applications, web services, and operating platforms, there are “free and open source” licenses available for use. What this means is that it does not require payment for the right to use these software packages.
Though these tools can often be as good as their competition, in many cases companies are required to use particular software. This always incurs an extra cost, especially with managed services in which the software is provided by the HIPAA Hosting Provider. However, the licensing costs, especially when dealing with a multitude of systems that would be running this software, can often be cost-prohibitive. Furthermore, in companies that run primarily Microsoft products, this would require additional licensing fees to operate within this type of environment. Though some hosts may require a client to pay extra for a license, it is best to look for one that offers the ability to use one’s own licenses. By providing one’s own, there would potentially be cost-saving on a per-month basis for the hosting payment, and the management for out-of-date licenses would be handled by internal personnel as compared to relying on the hosting provider for this.
As an alternative, the process of implementing these softwares packages and license management could transfer the responsibility to the HIPAA Compliant Hosting Provider. Free and open-source options can be used as a viable option if one does not already own licenses for particular technologies, unless a closed-source, proprietary solution is mandated. Using these types of ‘free’ technologies negates the need for license purchase as well as the time and overhead expended to keep track of available licenses.
The type of licensing and costs associated with using proprietary software should be considered when purchasing any type of HIPAA solution. However, always remember to explore the option of using an existing license and making sure to choose a HIPAA hosting provider that allows you to use your own. HIPAA Vault provides HIPAA-Compliant hosting solutions for either open-source or closed-source software license management.