Is HITRUST Worth The Investment?

HITRUST certification helps healthcare companies to effectively manage information risk. It is worth it if is considered an investment rather than a one-time cost.

Blog banner image databrackets is HITRUST worth it?

What is HITRUST?

HITRUST, or Health Information Trust Alliance, is a non-profit organization that uses the ‘HITRUST approach’ to help the healthcare industry control data protection standards and effectively manage data, information risk, and compliance. It’s similar to HIPAA, but instead of being written and enforced by the federal government, HITRUST is regulated by a group of healthcare professionals.

HITRUST is a way for the healthcare sector to self-regulate security practices while also fixing some of HIPAA’s shortcomings and providing a PCI (Payment Card Industry)-like enforcement system for businesses to adopt. HITRUST is a recommended framework trusted by many larger healthcare companies, health networks, and hospitals to manage risk along with other frameworks.


Why is HITRUST important?

In the United States, HITRUST is the healthcare industry’s security framework getting adopted primarily in hospitals It sets an industry-wide standard for handling Business Associate compliance. For a variety of reasons, HITRUST is slowly getting adopted in the healthcare industry along with other certifications:

HITRUST is updated daily to keep healthcare organizations up to date on new regulations and security threats. It is the most frequently updated security framework, with periodic updates and annual audit revisions. This ensures that those who follow the HITRUST CSF(Common Security Framework) work tirelessly to ensure their safety.

Some large payers need HITRUST. On February 8, 2016, five major healthcare payers assured their business associates that they would comply with the HITRUST CSF within two years. As a result, companies must consider “what HITRUST entails” and “what changes are needed to be made to achieve and maintain certification.”

HITRUST Certification has the strictest requirements with high-risk data that can demonstrate that an entity is a leader in compliance because they have the certification to back it up.

Is HITRUST worth it?

HITRUST Certification won’t be easy.

Many business associates will find it challenging to obtain HITRUST CSF certification because the vast majority may be unprepared and caught off guard. This is due to the fact that many organizations, especially smaller vendors, lack the resources to complete HITRUST CSF Certification. Organizations must not only meet the CSF criteria, but a third party must also audit them before being approved, and they must be recertified every other year.

Several businesses are taken aback by the HITRUST certification. Why?

  • Firstly, the cost of assessment and assessor services are high. Budgets are often tight, and data protection may be a substantial investment as the cost might be too steep for small and medium enterprises, and HITRUST might be perceived as more expensive. For enterprises, HITRUST Certification could be seen as an investment rather than an expense
  • Many customers are hesitant to invest in HITRUST because they fear failing
  • A company choosing to get HITRUST certified, must first adopt the HITRUST CSF (Common Security Framework) which is updated regularly with multiple versions. You need to stay on top of the update, use the right protocol and technologies to be able to use it effectively. This may be a daunting task for many companies
  • Assessment may include up to 400 control criteria and take upto 8 weeks depending on the scope and complexity of the company. This may be severely time consuming

The HITRUST Certification Fee


If you’re looking for a ballpark figure, the best guess will be $50,000 to $200,000, not including ongoing recertification costs. However, the range is so wide that it is ineffective for your business.

It depends on the assessment’s reach and the organization’s size, the state of its information system, and the steps taken to plan for a HITRUST assessment.


What exactly is included in this price?

Costs directly related to:

– The HITRUST MyCSF® gateway and services are made available

– Companies can take a readiness assessment and rating it

– Conducting a difference analysis, administering and rating a validated evaluation

Indirect costs incurred as a result of:

– Employee time spent on participation

– Security data recording and updating

– Initial setup

– Developing corrective action plans and remediation initiatives

– Assistance in locating and submitting necessary documents

Why is HITRUST Certification more expensive than other security certifications?

One must factor in the detail-oriented approach, thoroughness, and dependability.

A thorough examination

Depending on the company’s risk profile, a single HITRUST assessment may include up to 400 control criteria. This is in addition to the three forms of protection required by HIPAA regulations, the 12 PCI DSS compliance standards, COBIT’s five domains, 37 processes, and the 80-100 controls included in a SOC 2 audit.

The HITRUST CSF blends these and other regulatory standards into a single, overarching risk management and enforcement program, which is one of the most tangible benefits of the framework. It combines information management, financial services, technology, and healthcare standards. As a result, businesses will streamline their enforcement processes, resolve security concerns in all sectors, and reduce the time and expense associated with maintaining compliance with multiple standards.

Detail-oriented approach

Each control in your organization’s assessment must be reported, assessed, checked, and verified by an accredited external assessor before being evaluated by HITRUST. In addition, each control must be assessed using the HITRUST Maturity Model, which has five levels.

The HITRUST CSF certification process covers much more ground than any other security evaluation. In most cases, 2,000-2,500 separate data points are examined. Throughout this phase, an average of 1.5 hours per control is spent, with the number of controls assessed varying depending on the organization’s size, risk profile, and scope.


The HITRUST CSF system was created to give enforcement programs more structure and continuity. Recent enhancements have also increased scoring accuracy over time and between internal and external assessors.

HITRUST has strict standards for the assessor firms and experts involved in its commitment to solid assurance. Firms must apply for and receive approval from HITRUST to conduct assessments and services related to the CSF Assurance Program and work hard to retain that status.

Certified CSF Practitioners (CCSFP) are HITRUST Approved External Assessors responsible for assessing and validating security controls. They must complete a training course, pass an exam, and retain certification through regular refresher courses. HITRUST helps organizations ensure the evaluation and certification process is accurate through service.

Can you have a data breach after a HITRUST Certification?

Anthem, a HITRUST-certified company, was hacked, which resulted in a breach impacting nearly 80 million individuals.

While HITRUST released a statement in its defense that “the healthcare payer did not have a breach in any system or area of the organization that was within the scope of its HITRUST CSF Certification,” some security experts did question the significance “what did it mean to be HITRUST certified?” given the scale and sheer magnitude in the numbers.

HITRUST Alternatives

The HITRUST CSF is a certifiable and widely accepted security framework with a list of prescriptive controls to demonstrate HIPAA compliance. However, as alternatives to HITRUST, several SMEs comply with other security governance frameworks like the National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST], HIPAA, SOC Reports – SOC 1, 2, and 3 Form 1 and 2 and ISO 27001 Certification.

NIST is a set of voluntary guidelines, and processes that companies use to reduce the risk of a cybersecurity threat. It aims to improve security and resiliency by implementing 108 security controls to achieve NIST compliance.

Many HIPAA requirements may not be understood in accordance with their intended objectives. HITRUST aims to provide an integrated and holistic approach to demonstrate compliance with HIPAA security requirements.

HIPAA is a federal law with national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.

Based on the certification goals and requirements of our clients, we offer alternative frameworks NIST, ISO 27001 or SOC 2 certifications. Different certifications involve different costs and levels of efforts, so it is imperative to consider your size, requirement and budget before you seek certification. IF you company falls under a broad range of industries or comes under a regulated industry, SOC 2 may be the best option. If your company processes electronic health information, HITRUST may be the better option.

Talk to us to understand your certification category and know more information

About databrackets

databrackets certified privacy and security professionals could help your organization comply with a range of Certifications and Compliances that include HIPAA/HITECH, PCI Data Security, CCPA, OSHA, GDPR, Penetration Testing,  FDA CFR Part 11, ISO 27000, Cloud Security Management, NIST Framework, Cybersecurity Framework, SOC Certification, Third-party Assessment, NYDPS Cybersecurity  Series, ISO 17020, and  ISO 27001.

databrackets assists organizations in developing and implementing practices to secure sensitive data and comply with regulatory requirements. By leveraging databracket’s SaaS assessment platform, awareness training, policies, and procedures, and consulting expertise, you can meet the growing demand for data security and evolving compliance requirements more efficiently.

American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) has accredited databrackets for technical competence in and compliance with the Inspection Body Accreditation Program.

databrackets has been accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) as a Cybersecurity Inspection Body for ISO/IEC 17020:2012 vide its Certificate Number: 5998.01.

The Cybersecurity Inspection Body Program accreditation provides added trust and assurance in the quality of assessments performed by databrackets. A2LA’s third-party accreditation offers an independent review of databrackets’ compliance to both ISO/IEC 17020 (Requirements for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspections) as well as competence in technical program requirements for the desired scope of accreditation (I.e. SOC II, HIPAA/HITECH, PCI, etc.).

databrackets received accreditation by the International Accreditation Service (IAS] to provide ISO/IEC 27001 Certification for Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) and joins an exclusive group of certification bodies.

To learn more about the services, read here.

Comparing NIST, ISO 27001, SOC 2, and Other Security Standards and Frameworks

Explore the top cybersecurity frameworks that are critical to protecting company data like NIST SOC2 ISO27001 HIPAA and others in this blog

Blog banner databrackets comparing security frameworks

Over the last decade, an increasing number of organizations have been demanding security and compliance based certifications before awarding contracts to SaaS and other service providers. This has lead to an increase in the demand for certifications like SOC 2, NIST, ISO 27001 etc. These certifications help to standardize the cybersecurity measures taken to protect data and safeguard the brand reputation of the organization. They have also led to critical benchmarks in various industries and need to be understood before your organization selects the right one.

We, at databrackets, with the help of our partners and consultants, have compared popular security standards and frameworks (mandatory and voluntary). Our analysis focuses on practical aspects you need to consider before implementing the controls under each framework.

To begin our comparison, we looked at Google Trends for the interest in these security frameworks over the last decade.


Security Standards Comparison Banner

As seen in the report, HIPAA/HITECH security standards have the highest interest level in the US market, followed by NIST, SOC 2, and ISO 27001.


Comparing Security Frameworks


The comparison parameters in the charts below focus on the information you need to get an overview of the security standards and their relevance to your organization.

Key Features
ISO 27001
NIST Standards
Other Standards/ Frameworks (including FedRamp, CSA, HITRUST, Shared Assessments, etc.)
Not Applicable. You can get attested for compliance by a third-party.
There is no agency authorized to certify HIPAA compliance.
You need to engage the certifying bodies/ approved vendors.
Maps to individual frameworks of each standard body
Information Security Management Systems
Trust Services Criteria & Ethics
Control Families
PCIDSS standard
HIPAA rules including Technical, Administrative and Physical Safeguards
Depends on the individual frameworks of each standard
Technology platform specific controls are not covered by the standards /certification bodies
Certification Method
Authorized Certification Bodies
Authorized CPA Firm (Readiness Assessment can be done by a vendor)
Self (Audit and Attestation can be done by a third-party)
Authorized firm who have PCI-QSA Certified
Self (Audit and Attestation can be done by a third-party)
Third-party vendors
Third-parties require accreditation to issue certification
Best Suited For
Service Organization
Service/Product Organization
Different industries require different levels/standards of compliance
Service Organization
Healthcare, SaaS, and any organization handling Protected Health Information of US Citizens inclduing vendors handling PHI
Service/Product Organization
Some sort of security and data privacy certification is becoming a part of most industries
Popular in …
Companies operating in North America
US Federal/ Commercial / Manufacturing
Companies operating in North America
Customer Acceptance (Customer Requirements)
Preferred (Mandatory in some cases)
Preferred (Mandatory in some cases)
Not Mandated
Preferred (Mandatory in some cases)
Depends on the Industry and marketplace where business is conducted
6-month period(Type 2)
3-6 Months
Surveillance audit is in place for most of the certifications
Certification Frequency
Every 3 years with annual surveillance audits
Not Applicable
Mostly Annual
$$$ (HITRUST certifications cost 50k -200k)
Engaging an experienced vendor helps to ensure documentation and audit support. This saves cost in the long run.

Below is a quick summary of each security standard and framework:

NIST Security Guidelines

NIST Security Standards are based on best practices from several security resources, organizations, and publications. They were designed as a framework for federal agencies and programs requiring security measures. Several non-federal agencies have also implemented these guidelines to showcase that they comply with authoritative security best practices.

NIST Special Publication 800–53 is the most popular among the NIST security series. It provides the steps in the Risk Management Framework for security control selection for federal information systems. This is in accordance with the security requirements in Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 200. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF) has also attracted a lot of interest and attention from a variety of industries.

NIST has released the final version of Special Publication (SP) 800–219, Automated Secure Configuration Guidance from the macOS Security Compliance Project (mSCP). Security Professionals can leverage the macOS Security Compliance Project (mSCP) to secure and assess macOS desktop and laptop system security in an automated manner.

ISO 27001

ISO 27001, is a more risk-based standard for organizations of all shapes and sizes. Although there are more than a dozen standards in the ISO/IEC 27000 family, ISO/IEC 27001 is well known for defining the requirements for an information security management system (ISMS). ISO 27001 enables and empowers organizations of any kind to manage the security of assets such as financial information, intellectual property, employee details, or information entrusted to third parties. The latest update to ISO 27001 is scheduled to be released in late 2022.


reports assess the security controls of a Service Organization in accordance with AICPA’s Trust Services Principles: Security, Availability, Processing Integrity, Confidentiality and Privacy.

SOC 2 compliance is often included as the eligibility criteria for SaaS and other service providers as they bid for B2B contracts. Type 1 and Type 2 reports meet the needs of a broad range of B2B customers who want assurance about the security of their customer data.


HITRUST stands for the Health Information Trust Alliance. A HITRUST certification by the HITRUST Alliance enables vendors and covered entities to demonstrate compliance with HIPAA requirements based on a standardized framework.


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that requires the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) allocated a proposed rule for changes to the act in December of 2020 and a Final Rule is expected in 2022 with the following changes:

Increased Patient Access — the HIPAA Right of Access into the HIPAA Privacy Rule allows individuals to be more in control of their health and well-being decisions, which includes but not limited to:.

  • Allow patients to inspect the medical record PHI in person and/or take notes or photos
  • Reduce the time needed to provide access to PHI from 30 to 15 days
  • Allow patients to request a transfer of their PHI to personal health applications.
  • To post estimated fee schedules for PHI access and disclosures


The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of security standards governed by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC). This framework has been designed to secure credit and debit card transactions against data theft. PCI-DSS is a requirement for any organization that processes credit or debit card transactions. PCI certification is also considered the best way to safeguard sensitive data and information.

Cloud Security Alliance

The Consensus Assessments Initiative Questionnaire (CAIQ) v3.1. offers an industry-accepted way to document what security controls exist in IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS services, providing security control transparency. It provides a set of objective questions to a cloud provider to ascertain their compliance with the Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM).


The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) is a government-wide program in the US that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services. FedRAMP enables agencies to rapidly adapt old, insecure legacy IT to mission-enabling, secure, and cost-effective cloud-based IT.

Shared Assessments

Shared Assessments provide the best practices, solutions, and tools for third-party risk management to create an environment of assurance for outsourcers and their vendors.

How databrackets can help you comply with security regulations

databrackets specializes in assisting organizations to secure sensitive data and comply with regulatory requirements. By leveraging databrackets’ SaaS assessment platformawareness training, policies, procedures, and consulting expertise, our customers and partners are meeting the growing demands for data security and evolving compliance requirements more efficiently. Contact us here to learn more.