Unsecure channels of communication generally include SMS, email, and Skype because copies of messages are left on service providers´ servers over which a company has no control.
FREMONT, CA: With more medical professionals utilizing personal devices to communicate and collude on patient concerns, healthcare institutions must discuss the use of technology and HIPAA compliance.
Most forms of frequently-used communication are not HIPAA compliant. Unsecure channels of communication generally include SMS, email, and Skype because copies of messages are left on service providers´ servers over which a company has no control.
The security rule places a series of terms for technology to comply with HIPAA comprising:
• In transit or at rest, all Protected Health Information (PHI) must be encrypted.
• Each medical professional allowed to access and communicate PHI ought to have a unique user identifier so that the application of PHI can be examined.
• The employment of any technology to comply with HIPAA must have an automatic log off to prevent unauthorized admission to PHI when a device is left unattended.
There are plenty of other specifications for the use of technology and HIPAA compliance, some of which are as follows:
Issues with Encryption
The cause why encryption is so vital is that if a data breach of PHI occurs, any information that is acquired will be undecipherable, unreadable, and unusable. Even though tools exist to encrypt messages sent by message applications, SMS, and email, each user within a healthcare company must use the same operating system. They need to have the same encryption or decryption software in place for the mechanisms to be efficient.
Monitoring Authorized Users
Any mechanism chosen by a healthcare organization for the use of technology and HIPAA compliance has to have a policy whereby access to and the utilization of PHI is scrutinized. The process is not only to ensure that authorized users are complying with secure messaging policies but also to conduct risk assessments.
Automatic log-offs are a necessary security feature for mechanisms introduced to comply with HIPAA. Many commercially available text-messaging applications have a log-off feature, but how many people use them? The automatic log-off requirement makes sure that if a desktop computer or a mobile device is left unattended. The user, therefore, will be disconnected from the technology to abide by with HIPAA to prevent unauthorized access to PHI by a third party.
Typically, the three specifications for the use of technology and HIPAA compliance are just the tip of the iceberg. Any tool to comply with HIPAA must guarantee the end-to-end protection of information and hold measures in place to prevent malicious or accidental endangering of PHI.
When done appropriately, the use of technology and HIPAA compliance can be extremely beneficial to an organization. Secure texting solutions are straightforward to employ. They require no investment in new hardware or a firm´s IT resources.
Nevertheless, the technology to conform to HIPAA will not make a medical institution fully compliant with the specifications of the HIPAA. The use of suitable technology, however, will enable a healthcare organization to comply with the physical, administrative, and technical requirements of the HIPAA Security Act—something that several other forms of communication fail to attain.
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