When it comes to securely and confidently sending confidential data, virtually nothing beats fax technology. Choosing the right HIPAA compliant fax service is essential, though. As a healthcare provider, you are responsible for ensuring that the fax service you choose meets the standards and regulations set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). To help you make a well-informed decision, this article will address the key factors you should consider when choosing a HIPAA compliant fax service.
Why is HIPAA Compliant Fax So Important?
One of the primary purposes of HIPAA is to protect patients’ confidential medical information. HIPAA compliant fax helps to ensure your organization is meeting federal standards for securing protected health information (PHI) from unauthorized access.
Keep in mind that under HIPAA, covered entities may be penalized merely for failing to adequately secure PHI. In other words, it’s not necessary that any actual security breach occurred. Just letting your guard down is enough to land you on the wrong side of the law.
Fax continues to be popular among health care organizations precisely because it is far more secure than most other modes of communication. HIPAA compliant fax provides additional layers of security that ensure you remain in full compliance with the law.
What Makes a Fax Service HIPAA Compliant?
In order for a fax service to be HIPAA compliant, it must adequately meet the standards established under HIPAA’s Privacy Rule and Security Rule. Here are some key elements to consider when identifying a HIPAA compliant fax service:
HIPAA compliant transmission: A HIPAA compliant fax service must use industry standard TLS/SSL encryption to secure data when it is “in transit”. SSL encryption alone is not sufficient, though; the minimum standard for compliance is TLS 1.2.
HIPAA compliant storage: The fax service you select must also encrypt data when it is “at rest.” In other words, digital faxes that are retained by your fax service for future retrieval must be encrypted as well. AES 256 bit encryption is the industry standard, required for HIPAA compliance.
Secure and reliable data centers: Look for a service that houses data in Tier III data centers with SSAE16 SOC 2 Certifications. That means that physical access to the servers containing your PHI is carefully controlled, that servers are located in locked cages, and that facilities are protected by 24×7 surveillance and biometric access control. Facilities should also be designed to offer guaranteed connectivity with backup power & HVAC, redundant internet connections, and fault-tolerant systems.
HIPAA compliant policies & procedures: HIPAA compliance is not just about physical and technical measures; it also requires a clear awareness of HIPAA security requirements, with policies and procedures that ensure best practices are followed at all times. Look for a fax service provider that thoroughly understands HIPAA and is fully committed to maintaining 100% compliance on your behalf. They should deliver routine HIPAA training to their personnel, and should offer evidence of HIPAA compliance via an Annual Security Risk Assessment audit.
Business Associate Agreement: Finally, look for a fax service provider who is willing to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) acknowledging their responsibility to safeguard the PHI that you entrust to them. This is a firm legal requirement under HIPAA. If the service provider is unwilling or hesitant to sign a BAA, they should not be a candidate for your business.
Interoperability: Look for a fax service provider that offers a range of interoperability options, including APIs, print drivers, & support for MFCs.
Integration: The ability to seamlessly integrate with your business systems and workflows can significantly improve the overall user experience. Look for a fax service that offers robust API/SDK capabilities. This will help you integrate with your existing systems.
Your best bet is to look for a secure cloud fax service that serves a broad range of organizations within the healthcare sector, and which therefore deals routinely with HIPAA compliance. Companies that specialize in “Healthcare Fax” understand your needs and ensure that the information you transmit and receive will be fully protected in accordance with HIPAA.