HIPAA-Compliant Emails: A Quick Cheat Sheet | LA IT Support - Managed IT Services Los Angeles

HIPAA-Compliant Emails: A Quick Cheat Sheet | LA IT Support

For the healthcare industry to comply with HIPAA, all communications, storage, and usage of protected health information (PHI) must be HIPAA-compliant. HIPAA compliant emails are a step towards the security of patients’ sensitive data. 

Outsourcing this function to LA IT support experts might guarantee speedy and cost-effective compliance.

What is HIPAA?

The acronym HIPAA stands for “Health-Insurance-Portability-and-Accountability-Act.” This act protects the health information of patients from public access. Given the sensitive nature of this information, it is imperative to protect it. 

Make Emails HIPAA-Compliant

If you plan to send or receive Electronic protected health information ePHI over your email, you will need to make certain emails stay HIPAA compliant. You may not need to comply with HIPAA if you only ever send emails internally.

When you send emails outside of your firewall, encryption is essential. LA IT support experts can help ensure that only authorized individuals should have access to email accounts that contain ePHI. 

Encrypt all emails end to end 

Your email should be encrypted both in transit and storage. Only the intended recipient and sender of the messages can access them through access controls.

There is a risk people might accidentally send an unencrypted email because encryption is often forgotten to be turned on, so it is better to encrypt all emails, not just those containing ePHI. 

Get a HIPAA-compliant email provider

A business associate agreement (BAA) should be obtained before sending ePHI via a third-party email service. The business associate agreement establishes the service provider’s responsibilities, protecting ePHI through administrative, physical, and technical means.

Ensure your email is configured correctly

Your email service is not HIPAA-compliant simply because you use one covered by a BAA. For instance, a business associate agreement covers Google’s G Suite email service. Using G Suite with a business domain allows email to be HIPAA-compliant. But even if you are using G Suite, it is imperative to ensure encryption is set up properly by configuring the service.

Educate your staff on email policies and how to use it

After implementing a HIPAA-compliant email service, you should train staff on using emails in electronically protected health information properly. 

Many data breaches have been related to errors committed by healthcare staff – sending ePHI to the wrong person via unencrypted email or allowing ePHI to be viewed by unauthorized parties. 

The staff must be trained about HIPAA regulations and email service usage and informed about their responsibilities.

Keep all emails

Email retention is not specifically covered by HIPAA legislation, so HIPAA rules are unclear. Health practices must ensure email backup and storage in case individuals demand information about protected health information disclosures. In addition, some states require the storage of emails for a certain amount of time.

To learn more about your responsibilities and HIPAA requirements concerning email, talk to us at Advanced Networks. We provide state-of-the-art IT support solutions for businesses in LA. 

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