Healthcare providers are often required to send emails containing protected health information (PHI), whether to patients or other providers. HIPAA compliant email services are beneficial for protecting the integrity of patient data. Here are several things to look for when selecting a secure email service:
Does the Service Enable Email Encryption?
HIPAA compliant email encryption converts the contained information into scrambled data before being sent. Only people who are allowed access to the information can decode these codes. Look for an email service that provides end-to-end email encryption for extra security, meaning the data remains encrypted throughout the complete sending and receiving process.
Can Staff Members and Patients Easily Use the Email Service?
Look for an email service with a user-friendly platform. Some software provides options for sending clear text or encrypted messages, making it easier for healthcare providers to send and receive customized emails. Encrypted emails sent to patients should be simple, allowing them to decode the information without installing additional software. An extra layer of spam protection can also block unwanted senders, preventing users from accidentally opening malware-infected emails.
Does the Email Service Have Access Controls?
Due to the delicate nature of healthcare information, an email service should have access controls. Limiting access to patients’ data makes it more secure. This includes enforcing strong passwords to protect emails from unauthorized persons. Only healthcare providers and patients should have access to the emails to maintain the integrity of PHI.
Does the Email Service Provide Safe Storage of Data?
Patients have a right to privacy when seeking medical services. The email service should have multi-factor authentication to protect stored data. Multi-factor authentication requires healthcare staff and patients to enter at least two passwords or codes to access PHI. This authentication adds an extra layer of security to PHI, making it more difficult for unauthorized people to access patient information.
Can the Email Service Be Monitored and Audited?
Medical facilities and their staff should check their email services often. To confirm that the security measures of the email service work well, they must also audit their emails regularly. Audit reports give information about any attempted access to PHI by people who do not have permission to access such information. The reports can also reveal the specific people who accessed the information illegally.
An audit report of an email service enables an organization to improve the security of its email system. If the audit process reveals flaws in the email service, the company can introduce more passwords for all emails. It can also encrypt all the emails to seal the flaws and make them accessible to only patients and healthcare providers.
Does the Service Provide Additional Secure Interface Capabilities?
Some secure email services include software with chat, calendar, and telehealth capabilities. Chat and calendar tools enable providers to communicate and schedule appointments confidentially with patients. Telehealth allows medical practitioners to attend to patients remotely by video conferencing or screen sharing. Choosing a company that includes these tools with its email service can further increase secure communications, fostering private interactions between patients and healthcare providers.
HIPAA Compliant Email for Increased Protection
Healthcare institutions are responsible for safeguarding PHI by using HIPAA compliant email services. These services enhance the security and integrity of patient information, protecting it against unwanted access. Partner with a reliable email service to promote safe data storage, encryption, and monitoring for your healthcare facility.