HIPAA guidelines drastically changed the landscape of service delivery in the health industry especially when the industry experienced a digital transition. Digitization improved service provision via telehealth but made it challenging for a service to be HIPAA compliant as risks of PHI (Protected Health Information) leaks substantially increased.
This called for enterprise-grade security protocols to ensure the confidentiality of Protected Health Information.
What is HIPAA Compliance?
HIPAA compliance can also be referred to as adherence to the guidelines of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The core objective of this act was to safeguard sensitive information about patients. HIPAA guidelines consider all patient data as PHI (Protected Health Information) that is to be protected from any unauthorized access.
This means only the key stakeholders would have access to information such as healthcare service providers, patients, and payers for the service (Medical and Health Plans). HIPAA strives to protect patient privacy and maintains confidentiality pertaining to the flow of information.
Stakeholders Entitled to HIPAA Compliance
As prescribed earlier, HIPAA compliance pertains to the flow of information and PHI confidentiality. Since operations in the health industry encompass diverse workflows, each stakeholder involved in the process of service delivery becomes entitled to HIPAA compliance.
Any organization, institution, or individual having access to PHI is liable to comply with the rules. Following are the types of organizations or individuals that are subject to HIPAA compliance and labeled as covered entities:
- Healthcare Providers
- Health/Medical Plans
- Healthcare Clearinghouses
- Business Associates
HIPAA Security Rule
HIPAA compliance was originally designed for the protection of Protected Health Information pertaining to on-site service delivery. However, as the health sector witnessed the digital transformation, a subset of HIPAA regulations called ‘HIPAA Security Rule’ was designed for service delivery via telehealth.
The regulations pertaining to HIPAA Security Rule may be similar to its predecessor but they refer to the compliance in terms of the digital flow of PHI in the telehealth industry and standard health practice. Under the imposed guidelines, breach of information security must be avoided to protect the data from any unauthorized access.
Digital transformation surely improved the flow of information and facilitated its storage. However, at the same time, an increasing number of cybersecurity threats became a nuisance for health service providers.
According to HIPAA Journal, a data breach incident is recorded each day in the United States. This not only compromises PHI but also costs healthcare service providers an average of $6.5 million in damages per patient record with respect to HIPAA compliance fines.
Significance of HIPAA Compliance in Telehealth Industry
Digitization has not only affected the flow of information in the health sector, it has significantly disrupted the operational workflows. This led to a surge in the popularity of telehealth. Telehealth refers to virtual healthcare service provision via telecommunication technology. It is one of the blessings to be thankful for at times like these when we are experiencing a global lockdown due to the COVID-19.
Telehealth is the embodiment of healthcare digitization. Not just PHI handling, the entire model of the industry is based on digital technology. Data storage on the cloud and its transfer via the digital modes makes it more vulnerable to breaches compared to records stored at a physical location. Thus, compliance with HIPAA guidelines in telehealth is more crucial compared to on-site facilities.
How To Choose the Best HIPAA Compliant Video Conferencing Software?
Video conferencing platforms fuel operations in the telehealth industry. Since the telehealth model is based on virtual healthcare service provision, video conferencing software is the mode of interaction between patients and doctors. In telehealth, patients don’t need to visit a particular facility. They are remotely monitored via a video conferencing software, followed by the diagnosis.
This not only brings convenience but also boosts access to care in distant and underprivileged locales. Furthermore, it is a viable approach at times of a global pandemic, when social distancing is the only known cure for COVID-19.
However, there’s a flip side to everything. Telehealth has surely facilitated healthcare but it has also increased the risk of information infiltration. The only viable option here is to prefer a video conferencing software that is HIPAA compliant and offers enterprise-grade security.
As per the guidelines prescribed by the CDC, video conferencing platforms must meet the following standards to become HIPAA compliant:
- Ensuring confidentiality, integrity, and availability of e-PHI (Electronic Protected Health Information).
- Safeguarding security of information and preemptive measures against anticipated threats.
- Protection against anticipated impermissible uses or disclosures
- Certifying compliance by the workforce.
Is uShare.to a HIPAA Compliant Video Conferencing Software?
Yes! uShare is one of a few video conferencing software facilitating telehealth that meets all the Security Rule guidelines and is HIPAA compliant. uShare offers enterprise-grade security which encompasses the safety of infrastructure, the confidentiality of documents (conversation history, shared folders, files, pictures, videos, links, and integrations, etc.) and privacy.
Team Collaboration via uShare
uShare is not just a video conferencing software, it’s a one-stop platform that facilitates team collaboration. With uShare, you can collaborate with your team, partners, and key stakeholders such as health insurance personnel, healthcare clearinghouses, and business associates via a single app while offering remote patient care.
With uShare, you can create chat rooms – bringing all stakeholders to a single communication platform which minimizes the chances of the data breach. Data security and confidentiality is one of our top priorities. So, these chat rooms can only be joined or accessed with accurate login credentials and a valid link.
A Web-Based Software
One of the objectives of telehealth is facilitating access to care in remote and underprivileged localities. uShare is a complete web-based platform that does not require you to download additional apps, plugins, or tools. Whether you’re a service provider or a patient, all you need is an internet connection to get started. Just sign up for the service and start video conferencing with a single click.
Smart Appointment Scheduling
With uShare, you can schedule patient appointments in a hassle-free manner. All you need to do is schedule a video conference specifying patients’ email IDs. Our software will automatically send an email to the patient. Scheduled appointments for remote patient monitoring can also be easily rescheduled – notifying patients and service providers about the change.
Patient History Is Never Lost
Unlike other team collaboration tools, your data does not become inaccessible when it reaches a certain limit. We understand the importance of data and the significance of patient history in the telehealth industry. So, your data is safe and accessible at all times.
uShare Keeps Your Data Organized
uShare keeps your data organized including your tasks, contacts, shared links, calendar events, notes, and documents. You don’t need to rely on different platforms to store data, uShare is capable of becoming your centralized hub of information.
Everything shared via uShare is organized and easily accessible. So, you don’t have to spend hours – trying to find a particular patient record. Furthermore, uShare empowers users to have their personal space to store the files that are not to be shared with anyone else.
uShare supports a variety of tools that may facilitate your operations in the telehealth industry. You can connect these tools with uShare via our external integrations to facilitate your workflows. uShare’s current integrations include Trello, OneDrive, Dropbox, box, eSignature, SIP, Salesforce, Google Drive, Hangouts, Google Calendar, and many more.
uShare is a web-based video conferencing platform that supports all leading browsers. Furthermore, uShare is a PC and mobile responsive software – compatible with a variety of operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS. This makes the app accessible for the key stakeholders, irrespective of their device preference.
In this article, we explored HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance and discussed its significance in telehealth. HIPAA changed the dynamics of the telehealth industry for good. Safeguarding Protected Health Information, it not only gave patients an assurance but also standardized the flow of information in general.
HIPAA compliance is critical in telehealth as it helps minimize the risk of patient information leaks. uShare is a HIPAA compliant platform and promises enterprise-grade security. This makes it a viable video conferencing solution facilitating healthcare service provision in telehealth.