HIPAA Compliant Video Conferencing Tips
Anyone working in the healthcare industry is aware of the need for HIPAA compliance. There are processes in place to ensure HIPAA compliance in relevant areas of practice.
- What is HIPAA compliance?
- Which companies are affected by HIPAA compliance?
- How does the digital era affect HIPAA compliance?
- Why is HIPAA video conferencing vital?
- How do you choose the best HIPAA-compliant video conferencing tool?
Understanding What HIPAA Compliance Is
The Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, set the standard for protecting sensitive patient data. In 2009, HITECH law facilitated the implementation of electronic health records (EHR) and thus began the change to handling patient data digitally.
Under the HIPAA law, all patient data became protected health information (PHI). According to HIPAA rules, healthcare providers protect health information among patients, payers, and providers. The law’s goal was to strike a balance between the flow of information while maintaining the privacy of patients.
It is vital that companies dealing with protected health information have procedures in place that are HIPAA-compliant.
Which Entities and Companies are Affected by HIPAA Compliance?
Healthcare is a complex delivery system of care with HIPAA compliance affecting most of these providers and entities. This means anyone providing treatment, processing payment, or operations within the healthcare setting needs procedures and HIPAA-compliant systems.
From healthcare systems to hospitals, medical practices, credit card companies, credit, and collections agencies, and insurance payers must maintain strict HIPAA compliance. Any business associated with access to patient information and healthcare subcontractors are affected by HIPAA compliance. All must take steps to protect PHI to comply with HIPAA laws.
Since HIPAA was signed into law, the healthcare delivery system has changed dramatically. The most significant change to HIPAA compliance has been the transition to digital technology. Paper charts are gone, and PHI is stored and transmitted electronically through the Internet.
Care delivery has moved to the cloud. Telehealth is becoming popular. How does HIPAA compliance work digitally? Can providers guarantee HIPAA-compliant video conferencing while serving patients today?
HIPAA Compliance — the Digital Era
Specific HIPAA rules govern in-office healthcare delivery, with a subset of HIPAA relevant in the digital era, called the HIPAA Security Rule.
The HIPAA Security Rule oversees the digital flow of data in healthcare delivery. Compliance requires any PHI created, received, maintained, or transmitted to remain confidential and protected. Healthcare providers of all sizes are required to ensure data is protected from threat or breach. Every employee encountering digital PHI must remain in compliance with the HIPAA Security Rule.
Cybersecurity continues to pose a threat to digital data. The rate of cyber breach on protected healthcare data is one incident daily in the U.S. When you consider each breach could impact thousands of patients’ records, costing big money in HIPAA compliance fines to providers, healthcare organizations should be increasingly concerned about data security, as well as their reputation.
For these reasons, HIPAA secure video conferencing is vital to your team. As video conferencing doctors increase their use of this care method, they must exercise caution in selecting a HIPAA-compliant platform to ensure patient confidentiality.
Is HIPAA Video Conferencing Important?
Even though it boosts efficiency, patient data stored, then transmitted digitally poses issues when protecting patient information. Even though the case for digitization is compelling, electronic data can be breached in a way that paper files cannot.
An increasing number of providers are choosing virtual patient care delivery over a traditional office visit. Telehealth is becoming routine for patients and providers, with apparent benefits such as lower costs, increased convenience, and access to care. But this increased use of video conferencing over the Internet requires practitioners to guarantee compliance to HIPAA.
How Do You Choose the Best HIPAA Compliant Video Conferencing Tool?
In the healthcare delivery world, video conferencing is crucial. Digital technology can improve patient satisfaction and impact care delivery in these ways:
- Routine follow-up visits become more efficient, as it doesn’t require patients to travel to an appointment.
- Providers with patients faced with chronic diseases find it easier to monitor them.
- Preventive care and education benefits from telehealth. Patient outcomes and quality of life for providers can improve.
- Video conferencing, if used in schools to treat colds, flu, sprains, etc., could make it so there is no need for a parent to leave work to rush the child to urgent care.
- Video conferencing can connect seniors with care, keeping them in their homes.
All applications of HIPAA-compliant video chat have benefits.
- The return for providers and patients is high. These services can:
- Ensure patients receive exceptional care from the best specialists
- Aid patients in managing chronic conditions
- Help medical professionals achieve better health outcomes
- Reduce clinical overhead costs
- Prevent unnecessary trips to the ER
- Provide care to patients quickly and conveniently
Each of these benefits comes with a risk. How can a healthcare organization enjoy telehealth benefits and stay HIPAA-compliant? What factors should they consider when choosing video conferencing? Healthcare providers need encryption, direct contact with patients, and digital security.
The best choices on the market are encrypted. The process of encryption scrambles data when in transit across the web. This digitized data cannot be understood until it reaches the recipient’s device, merges with their video software, and becomes decrypted with the recipient understanding the information at this point.
This is vital because the threat of a data breach and subsequent fines for non-compliance can be harmful. Patients can be harmed too.
Patients seldom worry about their health data. What would be the outcome if your private health data reached your employer? What about your social security number, address, or other identifying data became public? Would you continue to trust this provider if your information was leaked?
A telehealth appointment should give patients the same sense of security as an office visit. Encryption will provide this security.
Recording and HIPAA Video Conferencing
Doctors and care providers record their patient’s video conferences to ensure an accurate care history is created. This process presents risks. Healthcare providers must guarantee the security of the video conferencing provided by requiring them to provide encryption continuously.
The most secure HIPAA-compliant video chat service will provide their service the safest way possible for any device. Healthcare providers need to work with their technology partners to ensure HIPAA compliance on all devices, using encryption, browser-based, secure video chat.
Is Video Conferencing HIPAA Compliant?
As telehealth becomes more mainstream, providers will be tasked to follow HIPAA compliance regardless of care delivery method. HIPAA compliance protects the patient, and video conferencing solutions should work to achieve this compliance.
HIPAA secure video conferencing is possible and likely when technology providers understand the laws. Complying with government PHI rules starts with the right technology so you can offer the best services for your patients.