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Cracking the Code of HHS Guidelines for Encryption of PHI

To encrypt or not to encrypt, that is the question. Or to put it another way: To convert readable data into gibberish that must be decoded to become readable again — or not to convert readable data into gibberish that must be decoded to become readable again, that is the question. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) says, “A covered entity must implement a mechanism to encrypt and decrypt electronic protected health information.” That sounds a lot like the government’s way of saying, “End of discussion.” But actually it’s not that clear cut. HIPAA goes on to state, […]

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The Pluses of a Virtual Private Network for Exchanging PHI Remotely

Let me set a scene where a Virtual Private Network (VPN) would be “just what the doctor ordered.” You’re out of town at a conference of healthcare professionals in your specialty. Before you left home, a colleague asked you to consult on a paricular case. She said she would email you the patient’s test results  as soon as she got them, along with relevant details from his medical history. “Take a look as soon as you can,” she said, “Then tell me what you think.” You brought your laptop with you. The hotel where you’re staying has Wi-Fi.  So does […]

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