What is HIPAA compliance and HIPAA Compliant Messaging App

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Last Updated | November 4, 2021

What is HIPAA compliance?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets the norm for delicate patient information security.

Top healthcare IT companies that manage protected health information (PHI) should have physical, organizational, and interaction safety efforts set up and follow them to guarantee HIPAA Compliance.

Convert entities (anybody giving treatment, installment, and activities in medical services) and business partners (any individual who approaches patient data and offers help in therapy, installment, or tasks) should meet HIPAA Compliance.

Different beings, for example, subcontractors and some other related business partners should likewise be in compliance.

HIPAA compliance is the interaction that business relations and covert entities follow to ensure and get Secured Wellbeing Data (PHI) as recommended by the Health care coverage Convenience and Responsibility Act.

That is legal jargon for “keep individuals’ medical services information hidden.”

Protected Health Information (PHI) is your/my/everybody’s medical care information. PHI is the substance that HIPAA attempts to secure and keep hidden. The Protected Harbor Rule distinguishes what sort of information you should eliminate to declassify PHI.

What is HIPAA compliant secure messaging?

HIPAA Compliant Messaging is a way to communicate securely. Through HIPAA-compliant messaging, organizations and other businesses associated with them share ePHI or electronic protected health information. It facilitates a convenient exchange of sensitive patient health information between the authorized users. 

Many organizations also use HL7 standards, a secure way of messaging, for sharing medical information between diverse information systems.

Being essential for achieving interoperability, HL7 Messages Examples include patient records combined with 10 components of a medical record, billing information, and laboratory results. 

While communicating the patient health information securely, the apps and platforms developed for secure messaging comply with healthcare industry standards to ensure the integrity of ePHI. They are a protected alternative to traditional text messaging and examples of excellent customer service in healthcare

The HIPAA-secured messages are accessible at any location where an Internet connection is available, as long as they are not programmed to disappear automatically. The process of keeping messaging HIPAA-compliant involves the transmission of encrypted messages from a secure server that holds sensitive data locally.

Why is HIPAA compliance important?

HHS brings up that as medical care suppliers and different elements managing PHI move to automated activities, including computerized physician order entry  (CPOE) frameworks, electronic health records (EHR), and radiology, drug store, and research center frameworks, HIPAA compliance is a higher priority than any time in recent memory.

Also, wellbeing plans give admittance to claims just as care the board and self-administration applications. While these electronic strategies give expanded effectiveness and versatility, they likewise radically increment the security hazards confronting medical services information.

The Security Rule is set up to ensure the protection of people’s wellbeing data, while simultaneously permitting covered elements to embrace new innovations to improve the quality and productivity of patient consideration.

The Security Rule, by configuration, is sufficiently adaptable to permit a covered substance to execute arrangements, methodology, and advancements that are fit to the element’s size, hierarchical design, and dangers to patients’ and buyers’ e-PHI.

What is a HIPAA-compliant messaging app?

HIPAA compliant apps are texting applications intended to ensure electronic information as per HIPAA guidelines. These guidelines apply to PHI including patient subtleties, socioeconomics, medical coverage data, pictures, and ID numbers.

Best HIPAA compliance messaging apps give a safe option in contrast to customary pagers and empower medical care staff to speak with patients and different suppliers.

These applications additionally empower framework executives to review the transmission and access of electronic PHI (ePHI) to guarantee compliance. Moreover, Telemedicine software costs are not that high.

These applications empower medical services experts to impart all the more effectively with one another and help guarantee that significant wellbeing data for explicit people is obtained in an opportune way, improving efficiency and guidelines of patient consideration.

The messaging apps surely ease the electronic information transmission, and it allows secure calls and communication. However, the messaging apps are still new, which means healthcare providers need time to adjust. That being said, it’s essential to pay heed to UX medical design because it improves adjustability and adaption by healthcare providers.

What are the features of HIPAA compliant messaging apps?

While considering messaging applications for medical care, it is dependent upon you to ensure the application you pick is compliant. In any case, there are sure highlights you should consider as an absolute necessity while evaluating HIPAA compliant content information.

Here are key highlights of secure, HIPAA compliant messaging applications:

  • Medical services suppliers can impart from a scope of endorsed gadgets and can get ongoing data gotten with encryption.
  • Undertaking web admittance to log conveyance notices and read receipts to check senders and beneficiaries.
  • Data can be safely overseen through highlights that empower you to distantly wipe message information.
  • Directors can oversee access settings from a focal dashboard and give or repudiate access depending on the situation.
  • Portable applications remember worked for logging and evaluating highlights to guarantee conveyance and read receipt compliance.
  • Versatile and undertaking applications ought to have permeability to clients’ accessibility.
  • Every one of these highlights guarantees the uprightness of ePHI, upgrades representative work processes, increment profitability, and helps to increase the expectation of patient medical services in an expense-productive way.

Best HIPAA compliant texting apps

The HIPAA secure messaging apps increase productivity, enhance employee workflows, and raise the bar of patient healthcare. With the growing demand for compliance with HIPAA, many vendors have been working on developing HIPAA compliant texting apps. Some of the best HIPAA Compliant Texting Apps include:

Klara

With a large market base, Klara is a popular option among patients and providers. Currently, about 40 clinical practices use the Klara texting application. One of the best capabilities of Klara is that it caters to various healthcare specialities. Apart from texting, Klara also supports remote monitoring and video chats. It works well on all devices, following the HIPAA compliance norms. It also provides options for tracking, scheduling, asking queries, and checking reviews. Since its tabs and other options are easy to navigate, users find Klara a super easy texting app for secure messaging.

Providertech

Provider tech helps healthcare facilities and organizations to provide improved quality care, experiences, and better clinical outcomes by using mobile technology, artificial intelligence, and in-depth clinical expertise.  As a text messaging platform, Providertech’s CareMessenger complies with HIPAA and enables healthcare providers and practices to send secure messages to patients and other healthcare providers by sharing HIPAA-compliant texts, documents, and photos. 

Since its encryption ensures the security of sensitive information, the users must verify their identity to access text messages. 

Spok

Spok provides a secure messaging platform as well as integration with your EHR system and other clinical systems. It is a HIPAA-compliant texting app that streamlines your workflow and keeps PHI safe. By storing messages, Spok allows you to have a complete audit trail. Spok also helps you send and read receipts. It has many features like encryption, the ability to lock down the app, automated message removal, and more.

Spok Device Preference Engine (DPE) is another feature of Spok. It makes sure to send your messages to the right person on the device they want to receive them.

Which are the free HIPAA compliant texting for the therapists?

Secure healthcare communication is challenging, but in compliance with HIPAA regulations, many vendors provide various HIPAA compliant communication means to facilitate healthcare providers. Like other medical professionals, therapists also need HIPAA-compliant texting services to continue smooth and secure communication with their patients. 

Here is an example of an easy-to-use HIPAA Compliant Texting app:

Zinc

Zinc is a HIPAA-compliant texting app that therapists can use from their mobile phones to get administrative controls required in healthcare. Zinc is developed while keeping the needs of healthcare teams in mind, so it bridges the gap between the patients and therapists with a single platform for easy and secure communication. It includes voice, text, and video messaging features to make person-to-person and group texting easier. Additionally, it has a one-click VOIP video calling and conference calling option.  

With its instant alerts, it provides therapists the information they need and gives IT departments control over the usage of that information. It is designed for the individuals or organizations that need to be HIPAA-compliant. It also makes integrations, location sharing, and file sharing easy to send important files. 

Zinc HIPAA compliant text messaging solution costs around $10 per user/month for as many as 1000 users. It also has custom pricing available for users above 1000. Moreover, it offers free trials before you buy it.

HIPAA compliant texting to patients

HIPAA laws allow sharing patient health information with patients. However, the Covered Entities (that are healthcare clearing houses, health plans, or the healthcare providers who share any health-related data electronically) warn that the risk of unauthorized access exists for the patients’ data. Thus, they have obtained patients’ consent to communicate by texting. 

To stay HIPAA compliant, the Covered Entities have implemented a HIPAA-compliant text messaging app with the necessary controls to support the HIPAA-compliant text messaging. Below are two examples of HIPAA-compliant texting for patients:

Hucu.ai

Hucu.ai is a messaging network developed with a focus on patients. This app is an easy-to-use solution. The Hucu.ai app enables customers to receive push notifications when the senders tag on them for immediate delivery by streamlining professional communications.

TigerConnect

With TigerConnect, users can sync messages among different devices- like a phone or computer, and have an option to recall the message if a patient sent it to the wrong person.

A key feature in this app is priority messaging that puts the important messages on top of your inbox. It also can create groups between healthcare providers to improve workflow coordination and see when the staff has read your messages. Also, the messages are encrypted and cannot be forwarded, copied, or pasted. Even after some time, your messages automatically get removed, so this app makes communication and data sharing secure for patients.

HIPAA compliant voicemail service

In the United States, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of Health and Human Services (HHS) has confirmed that healthcare professionals can send voicemail while staying in compliance with HIPAA. HIPAA compliant voicemail service helps to protect the transmission of sensitive voicemail. While leaving voicemail messages, HIPAA requires the covered entities to safeguard the patient’s private health information. 

There are certain limitations to sending voicemail messages. So, for keeping a voicemail HIPAA compliant, you must not include a patient’s PHI. HHS recommends covered entities restrict voicemail information to their facility name, telephone number, point of contact, and a return call request. A short voicemail message with limited information stays in compliance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule and keeps the patient’s PHI safe from being overheard by other individuals. 

Innoport is an example of a HIPAA-compliant voicemail service. It provides some industry-leading options for security.  Using its secure FTP, therapists and other users can get their voicemails delivered straight to their servers. It also helps with the protected delivery of confidential transcriptions to your secure server. It is also perfect for therapists and other service providers who have a massive volume of incoming messages. 

Is Google chat HIPAA compliant?

Yes, Google Hangouts Chat is HIPAA compliant. Yet, since Google’s BAA merely wraps the Google Hangouts chat element, the rest of the features (video, audio) cannot be utilized in accord with PHI.

Is WhatsApp Business HIPAA compliant?

WhatsApp isn’t HIPAA compliant and can’t be utilized to send PHI. Medical services associations may utilize WhatsApp to impart fundamental data or de-distinguished PHI, however to keep up HIPAA compliance, PHI can’t be sent utilizing the informing stage.

Can HL7 Integration Helps With Communication & Data Transmission?

HL7 is known as the set of standards needed for sharing and transferring data between different healthcare providers. In particular, it can bridge the gap between different health apps, which eases healthcare data sharing. The majority of healthcare providers use multiple apps for various functions, such as keeping records of patients and billing. However, the communication and information sharing between different apps can be challenging.

For this reason, HL7 delivers a set of standards and instructions that leads to uniform data storage and movement. As a result, healthcare apps can utilize the data without special software requirements. In simpler words, HL7 can streamline data sharing, which eases the administrative burden on healthcare staff. But again, there are different HL7 categories, such as;

  • Section 1 – defines the standard compliance methods and system integrations
  • Section 2 – states the base standards that the users can build, and it also outlines the tech infrastructure and standards that will be used
  • Section 3 – it helps connect the document and messaging standards for healthcare providers
  • Section 4 – shares details about how the EHR system is developed and managed through models and profiles
  • Section 5 – it shares information about implementation methods and also has support documents
  • Section 6 – outlines the references and rules for developing the programming structures, which helps with the development of standards
  • Section 7 – it describes tools’ information and tools that are essential for adopting HL7 standards and developing such standards

The integration of HL7 standards can improve the functionality and data transfers. Moreover, it can result in workflow automation and enhance interoperability. Last but not least, HL7 standards integration in the healthcare apps will improve clinical efficiency and lowers the chances of administrative errors.

How to be HIPAA Compliant?

Using HIPAA-compliant messaging, healthcare practices can keep their communications safe and comply with industry standards. Therefore, the organizations need to be HIPAA-compliant to continue secure communications. To be HIPAA-compliant, organizations must follow a process and abide by HIPAA regulations. We have broken down the process to be HIPAA Compliant into seven steps; read those steps below:

  • Create Privacy and Security Policies: 

To ensure that organizations follow HIPAA regulations and prevent HIPAA violations, they must create privacy and security policies. These policies need to be documented, shared with the staff members, and regularly updated. 

  • Have a HIPAA Privacy and Security Officer: 

HIPAA legislation is not only complicated, but it also constantly changes, so every organization must have its internal HIPAA experts. Since the HIPAA security rule makes it necessary for every covered entity to appoint a Privacy Compliance Officer, they require the officer to monitor the development and implementation of the policies.

  • Implement Security Safeguards: 

The HIPAA security rule requires covered entities to have three types of safeguards to ensure the security of ePHI. These are administrative, physical, and technical safeguards that need to be in place to keep patient data secure. 

  • Conduct Self-Audits and Risk Assessments:

HHS requires every organization and the covered entity to conduct regular (or annual) audits of all technical, administrative, and physical safeguards to pinpoint compliance gaps.

  • Maintain Business Associate Agreement (BAA): 

The covered entities must ensure that their business associates are HIPAA compliant and can protect the data when PHI is shared with them. Both parties have to enter a BAA that needs to be reviewed on an annual basis and updated.

  • Create a Breach Notification Protocol:

Organizations can be saved from HIPAA violations when they can provide proof that the breach was unintentional. However, if they fail to report the breaches, it makes the situation worse. So, the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule makes it essential for covered entities to report all the breaches to OCR. Also, they need to inform the patients whose confidential information may have been risked.

  • Document Everything: 

Every organization must document its HIPAA compliance endeavors, including privacy policies, security policies, self-audits, risk assessments, and remediation plans. This documentation will then go to OCR for review.

HIPAA compliant texting solutions

The features added in the secure texting solutions allow system administrators to keep track of transmission of sensitive healthcare information and access to encrypted ePHI to comply with HIPAA regulations. With the protected texting administrator, compliance with HIPAA regulations is assured since it can remove a user from the network and delete any sensitive data accessible to them if a threat to the security of private health information is found.

Learn below about what a HIPAA-compliant texting solution like Halo Health can do.

Halo Health

Halo Health is a cloud-based solution hosted by Amazon Web Services. It allows medical professionals to send and receive Protected Health Information related messages through its HIPAA-compliant secure text messaging app. It improves efficiency and decreases medical professionals’ liability.

The key features of Halo Health include auto-forwarding, message status notifications, sender notification, and safe texting. They allow users to continue an older communication thread or start a new text message thread. Moreover, when the recipient is unavailable, Halo Health lets you send screen messages and alerts to notify them of any need for instant communication.

FAQs: 

Is SMS texting HIPAA compliant?

The HIPAA guidelines for SMS don’t explicitly disallow the utilization of a “Short Message Service” to convey Ensured Wellbeing Data (PHI), yet they do specify that specific conditions must be set up prior to utilizing SMS to impart PHI is HIPAA compliant. Most SMS messages are not HIPAA compliant.

Is Gmail HIPAA compliant?

Gmail isn’t inherently HIPAA compliant, at any rate in the way that most organizations utilize the service. Like by far most email services, Gmail doesn’t encode messages of course. Securing delicate information correspondence tumbles to you, the client.

Is WhatsApp HIPAA compliant 2020?

WhatsApp isn’t HIPAA compliant and can’t be utilized to communicate PHI. It doesn’t have the appropriate shields set up to secure the delicate data.

What are the benefits of HIPAA-compliant messaging services?

Meeting HIPAA guidelines gives you the advantages of access, review, respectability controls, information transfer, and device security.

Keeping up more distinguishable permeability and controlling delicate information throughout the relationship.

The best information assurance arrangements perceive and ensure patient information altogether frames, including organized and unstructured information, messages, records, while also permitting health care providers to share information with the utmost safety.

Is Facebook messenger video HIPAA compliant?

For any messaging application to be viewed as a HIPAA compliant telemedicine stage, it should satisfy the entirety of the accompanying prerequisites:

  • Use end-to-end encryption
  • Execute access control
  • Enable audit controls
  • Sign a business associate agreement (BAA)

Facebook Messenger neglects to meet each of the four HIPAA prerequisites and isn’t viewed as a HIPAA compliant telemedicine stage.

However, one thing to note here is according to the HHS, during a pandemic, messenger video has been cited as HIPAA compliant to the emergency rules.

What are telemedicine business models? 

There are many factors involved in a telemedicine business model which interact together in order to provide best telemedicine solutions to the users. The model includes; key partners, key resources, data security, value proposition, CRM, cost structure, revenue streams, customer segments, and channels.

Free HIPAA compliant phone app

pMD HIPAA Compliant Text Messaging is a free and user-friendly app. It helps you send messages fastly, securely, and in real-time to improve HIPAA compliant voice, video, and chat communication with other healthcare providers and patients.

 

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