Making Your Email HIPAA Compliant
Email is the most common means of communication used in industries worldwide, usually to convey all types of information, from status updates to official data.
The healthcaresectorrely on the medium of communication too as the medical staff have to keep in touch, often communicating about their patients.
Gmail remains the most popular emailingplatform today, boasting of billions of account holders. The user-friendliness of Gmail explains why it is a favorite for brands and industriesincluding healthcare companies.
Emails sent within the healthcare industry must conformto the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) act primarily because of frequent patient-related messages.
Gmail is easily accessible to everyone worldwide, which begs the question, is the platform HIPAAcompliant?
How to Ensure Your Health Emails are in Compliance
The Health Insurance Act has strict standards regarding the protection of patient privacy and healthcare information.
Medical staff must be well trained to use layers of security in their emails if they are to be in compliance. Additionally, just because your email service complies to the act does not mean that the emails are automatically out of harm’s way.
The HIPAA requires that medical service provides encrypt their data. This encryption should guarantee that contents of the message will remain between the service provider and the client alone.
If anyone else can get access to this encrypted email then the system violates the Act’s standards.
Emails, therefore, must go throughend-to-end encryption, so that they can’t be opened or read without decryption, usually done by entering the user passcode first. The medical staff needs to be trained on how to encrypt emails with confidential data to ensure that they reach the correct recipients safely.
Gmail isn’t HIPAA acquiescent
Gmail doesn’t obeythe HIPAA standard. Gmail isn’t compliant because it is effortless to open and operate a personal account. Personal email accounts are not compliant either. To conform tothe requirements of the standard, an email service must sign a special document known as Business Associate Contract.
The document is an agreement between the medical service provider and their clients that will have access to safeguard healthcare data. Gmail account holders do not get to append their e-signature on the contract, which violates HIPAA.
Fret not, for there is a solution. Google has G Suite, which can beHealth Insurance Act compliant. G Suite has Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Calendar like the free version, but containsextra security layerswhich qualifies it as compliant to the Health Insurance Act.
G Suite allows Google to sign a Business Associate Contract with health companies, but they add the necessary security layers first. G Suite has, therefore, become the preferred email service for medicalfirms due to its cheap cost and steadfast security.
How to Create Your Gmail Account to Conform with HIPAA
Just because you own a G Suite account does not guarantee your email account is HIPAA compliant. As outlined earlier, there are additional requirements before the Gmail account is fully functional and compliant.
For the Gmail account to be HIPAA compliant, you have to employ the use of third party encryption. The third-party service will encrypt the emails in the patients' inboxes, which ensures that the patient data is as secure as possible.
You also need to get consent from the patients before you send them any emails. When looking for this written consent, explain explicitly the risks involved with sending their data over email.
It is also the legal right for the patient to revoke this consent at any time they wish. Never send confidential emails to a client who hasn’t signed a document of consent.
G Suite contains security measures that limit access to sensitive data by unauthorized individuals. These security tools help you validate that the email went to the intended party, and only they can access the email.
G Suite also has strong encryptions that cannot fail, which increases the security of the data sent across. Additionally, the encryption ensures that nobody else besides the intended recipient accesses the emails.
Emails are here to stay, and being fashionable, they are guaranteed tenure in the communication world. The medical field should, therefore, learn quickly on how to secure their communications to ensure that their patients remain served effectively.
You have to ensure that you use the correct email service, ensuring that it is HIPAA compliant to ensure that the data you send or receive from the patient is secure.