Touchstone Compliance

The Truth about HIPAA Compliant Email

In a previous blog I talked about the importance of email security in today’s healthcare practices. I focused mainly on the advantages of using secure HIPAA compliant email in communications with patients, and how that kind of communication can earn a doctor or dentist a high rating on social media and, quite possibly, a better bottom line.

hipaa compliant email

Patient endorsements are great, but – truth is — the advantages of HIPAA compliant email are more far-reaching than that. In many ways, secure email can play a vital role in running a practice. This short post will point out a few.

One of the major benefits of transmitting Protected Health Information (PHI) over secure messaging systems is that those systems are designed to be compatible across multiple mobile devices and platforms. This makes it possible for healthcare providers to safely share PHI with smartphones, computers, laptops, and tablets.

Something else to consider when it comes to sharing PHI

Let’s say you’ve enlisted the services of a company that provides your practice with a secure messaging system. You’re confident now that the information you’re sending over the Internet is well-protected.  But don’t get too comfortable, because there’s one more element that needs to be in place: Business Associate Agreements (BAA).

Under rules that went into effect in September of 2013, business associates with whom you share PHI — labs, clinics, colleagues, and, yes, even the company that administers your secure messaging service — must also comply with HIPAA’s Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification provisions.

So before sending PHI in their direction, it’s your responsibility to have agreements in place from each of them indicating that, like you, they’ve taken appropriate steps to safeguard PHI. Without BAAs, you’re putting your patients’ information at risk – even though you yourself have taken all kinds of precautions, including encryption and secure HIPAA compliant email.

Real-world security

Want to share a patient’s x-rays with a colleague? A chart with a specialist? A woman’s medical records with her new doctor in another state? Want to quickly provide peace of mind to a post-surgery patient with an after-hours question? Or efficiently communicate with a pharmacist about a changed prescription? A secure messaging system allows you to do all this and more – without the risk of an information breach.

HIPAA compliant email – made possible by encryption and a secure messaging system – makes for:

  • Enhanced communication between doctors and nurses
  • Faster delivery of lab results
  • Speedier resolution of patient concerns
  • More efficient transfer of medical records

And even though complying with HIPAA can be, at times, a pain, taking the necessary steps to ensure PHI security can ultimately lead to better care.

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