Is Your Healthcare Provider Keeping Your Communications Compliant?

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Is there compliant email +texting in healthcare?

In any industry – not just financial services and healthcare – tracking and archiving employee and client emails and texts is mission-critical, particularly when issues arise and regulatory oversight bodies demand immediate, speedy, and comprehensive data retrieval.

Whether it be through proprietary portals, email or texts, digital communications are increasingly the most common tool for communicating with clients, patients, colleagues, and management.

Where do texts and emails go?

In every industry where client and/or patient privacy is a priority, tracking communications, archiving, and then retrieving them can be complicated. Writing in TechTarget’s HealthIT, Site Editor Tayla Holman discusses how digital communications provide professionals with a convenient way to interact with colleagues and patients in real-time. In healthcare, she says, digital chat can save patients the frustration of having to schedule an appointment to receive lab results or allow them to get nonurgent medical advice from their provider in a timely manner.

But as with any technology that involves the exchange of confidential information, or, in the case of healthcare, protected health information (PHI), there are several considerations providers need to keep in mind before implementing a secure healthcare communication system – patient privacy and secure archiving.

As it does in financial services, documenting all communications (email, text, etc.) between clients/patients/colleagues is key. Archiving that data and storing it for easy retrieval can provide healthcare compliance professionals with critical back-up information and documentation for regulatory oversight compliance and to minimize potential legal exposures.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the cloud

Often healthcare organizations will use a cloud-based, shadow IT data storage solution like Dropbox, Evernote or Google Drive. The result is patient health information stored in a public cloud, a clear HIPAA violation. What is needed, Holman writes, is a secure collaboration solution that looks and functions like email or their other file management tools, while providing trusted access to content wherever it is stored. This includes storing a single, unalterable copy of the record to meet compliance requirements that ensures private information cannot be carelessly stored, used incorrectly at a later date or inadvertently mishandled or shared.

Using compliant texting and email to keep communication open

Ultimately, according to Holman, the decision to use a secure healthcare communication system depends on the patient population and the organizational culture. The same holds true in financial services. Just like their financial services compatriots, health care compliance and risk management professionals and company management must have a clear picture of what they need to do to minimize exposure and maximize compliance – with an eye towards positioning their organizations in a more favorable light when the prosecutors come calling (and they will!).

Regardless of industry, no one is immune from oversight and regulatory compliance. Nor is it possible to completely eliminate bad actors. However, a well-run compliance system can spot irregularities and give an attentive compliance team a chance to nip exposures before they get out of hand. That’s where Patrina can help. We’ve built our business based on helping organizations keep track of “bad apples,” and stay on the “straight and narrow” efficiently and cost-effectively. So, let’s talk. Call 212-233-1155 to ask about Patrina’s cost-effective, designated third-party services, our comprehensive, 8-module compliance solution, and compliant data capture, file storage, and records archiving specifically designed for the healthcare, insurance, and financial services community. Be smart. Be covered.Let’s talk.

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