Implement Secure Communications with HIPAA Email Compliance
With updated HIPAA regulations and the rise of technology in the workplace, healthcare facilities must find a balance between advancing their workflow technology and maintaining compliance to protect not only their own facility but the information of their patients. Regulations assign responsibility of all transmitted PHI to a facility and their staff no matter the policies facilitated in the work place to help regulate this transmission. Specifically, updated HIPAA regulations address the electronic transmission of any patient information. Electronic transmission includes common communication channels such as text messaging, paging or email. Facilities may begin with policies that prohibit electronic transmission such as a “no texting policy”, but this does not guarantee employees will stop using their own devices for work communication. Ultimately, the best answer is to implement a solution that will address electronic transmission and use this technology to optimize current workflow in the healthcare facility.
Email is a common form of communication across healthcare facilities no matter the level of advanced technology available. Because of the common use already in place, facilities often begin with HIPAA email security to comply with updated HIPAA regulations. Beginning with HIPAA email security allows a facility to maintain the security of a single communication channel to communicate encrypted PHI in a timely and efficient manner.
Taken a step further, HIPAA email compliance acts as the precursor to secure messaging solutions, allowing healthcare to branch out past one secure communication channel. With secure messaging, facilities are able to transmit multiple forms of media in an encrypted fashion for both the sender and the recipient. Secure messaging solutions captures not only the HIPAA email security users but widens its audience to include multiple platforms, devices and types of facilities to allow efficient and compliant communication.
When complying with updated HIPAA regulations, facilities should consider the following to ensure an effective solution:
- The elements of HIPAA email security that comply with HIPAA regulations
- The benefits of implementing a secure communication solution
- The proper policies or solution to fit with the needs of the facility
Begin encrypting data transmission with HIPAA secure email
Updated HIPAA regulations have mandated that all data be encrypted in transit and at rest. Healthcare facilities are required to guard against any unauthorized access to Patient Health Information (PHI) over any channel. With the rise of technology in the work place, PHI is even more at danger with multiple modes of communication in the hands of hospital staff. Even with passwords and basic security protocols, healthcare staff emails openly transmit any patient information among their colleagues without guarding against unauthorized access. Without proper HIPAA email security, unencrypted data transmission leaves patient PHI vulnerable and open to potential compromise. Once installed, HIPAA email security allows all staff to safely communicate patient information to people within or outside of the hospital; to both staff and patients. Encryption protects enterprise resources from malware, and includes other benefits such as registering information into organized records, allowing better management of returned messages, and logging downloads of message data. HIPAA email security allows compliance to HIPAA regulations along with additional features that will enhance the workplace communications.
Begin securing mail structure with HIPAA email encryption
HIPAA regulations mandate that not only the sending of messages be encrypted, but all components of a facility’s mail exchange. The security of Internet routers, mail servers, sender inbox and even recipient inbox can start to be secured with the implementation of HIPAA email security. With HIPAA email encryption, healthcare facilities also must develop an incident response process to ensure recovery of compromised PHI or proper notice to the patient if it is not found. The security of a facility’s mail structure ensures that no element will leak PHI for unauthorized use. Once completed, the installation of HIPAA email encryption allows all users to use required browsers and access their secure mail exchange for future use. The process of implementing HIPAA email encryption will ultimately protect each facility’s data through various tiers of security for individual inboxes as well as the mail exchange as a whole. These protocols allow senders to encrypt their message no matter the recipient.
Begin reducing employee-usage risks with HIPAA encrypted email
With the installation of a HIPAA encrypted email service, users are able to send PHI without the worry of compromising their inbox or sent messages. HIPAA encrypted email protects staff from unwillingly sending PHI to the wrong recipient, leaving data unencrypted in their outbox, and even leaving discarded copies of information available in their own inbox. With the use of personal mobile devices in the workplace, healthcare facilities are also reducing the risk of sending unencrypted data not only from their PC – email becomes a secure communication channel from their mobile devices as well. HIPAA email security allows hospital staff to communicate effectively and securely whether they are in the office, or not. Staff is now able to communicate with co-workers and patients over a secure network no matter their location. With the use of HIPAA encrypted email, facilities may find that the best avenue is to secure all communication channels to ensure that no PHI is left out for unwanted access, especially with both PCs and mobile devices at risk.
Address all risks with more than HIPAA compliant email encryption
With HIPAA email security, healthcare facilities limit their staff to only one form of secure communication for transmission of PHI. To ensure full compliance and maintain workflows, facilities should ultimately consider a secure messaging solution. Ignoring the present use of text messaging in any workplace, leaves facilities with compliance discrepancies and the inability to improve their workflow. Moving toward secure messaging compliance allows facilities to easily adapt text messaging into their current work procedures while remaining compliant to current HIPAA regulations.
Secure messaging solutions allow healthcare facilities to secure aspects of their staff’s device as well as protect against unwanted access to patient information. Similar to an email solution, secure texting allows staff to send encrypted PHI but now they do not have to endure the tedious process of accessing their secure mail exchange. Instead, secure messaging secures all transmission with features that only allow access to the owner of the device – such as pin lock, remote wipe or limited lifespan.
In addition, secure messaging allows healthcare facilities to ensure the security of PHI for both the sender of the data and the recipient. With just HIPAA email security, data transmission only remains secure if the recipient has a similar platform or does not have any gating software such as virus protection or certain enterprise software products. With a secure messaging solution, the data is never stored on the recipient’s device, or inbox, so the information remains encrypted for both parties. Selecting a secure messaging solution instead of HIPAA email security guarantees encrypted data transmission across various platforms and more than just one communication channel.
With secure texting, healthcare facilities make the smarter choice to ensure protection of their hospital staff and their patients’ information. This also enables each facility to optimize their workflow with an easy installation and the ability to integrate existing devices into their current procedures. Healthcare facilities embrace the technology in front of them instead of implementing “no texting policies” or limiting their staff to a single communication channel – such as HIPAA email security.
No matter what stage of the process a facility is at, addressing the use of mobile devices in the workplace not only secures the transmission of PHI but can also optimize the current workflows for healthcare staff. After reviewing the elements of HIPAA email security, and the general benefits of a secure communication solution, facilities should start by implementing a general secure messaging policy to help mandate facility usage of personal mobile devices with or without a secure communication solution. Integrating a policy is a great starting point for healthcare facilities to measure staff’s current usage while complying with HIPAA regulations for electronic transmission of PHI.