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How Healthcare Providers Can Ensure The Security of Their Data

Beyond HIPAA, Beyond Doubt: Trust Your Medical Data with Unwavering Security.
Written By: Eric Williams
Reviewed by: Mike Reyes
Last Updated January 9, 2024
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Summary:

  • Secure Online Faxing for HIPAA Compliance: Healthcare facilities must use online fax services that provide secure transmissions meeting HIPAA standards. This includes using high-grade encryption, explicit patient authorization for record transmission, and HIPAA-compliant cover letters.
  • Data Access Control and Monitoring: Access to patient files and medical data must be restricted through user accounts with permissions based on security clearance. Additionally, network administrators should track access points to data storage for enhanced security and potential incident investigation.
  • Data Backup and Disaster Recovery: Medical records transmitted and stored electronically need backups to ensure data recovery in case of disasters. Off-site storage, secure data rooms, and cloud-based backup solutions are recommended measures for robust data protection.
doctors discussing

Medical facilities and private practices require information systems and business services that meet current IT standards. Since more facilities are using online faxing services, the hospital or practice administrators must ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations. All patient records and medical files must remain secure within the data center, and explicit authorization from the patients must be secured before any records are transmitted.  

Online fax services must provide secure transmissions and prevent the disclosure of any data to unauthorized parties. By reviewing what healthcare providers need to do to keep the data secure, administrators can create protocols to protect the clients and all existing medical files. 

Using Appropriate Cover Letters

HIPAA regulations require a cover letter with specific details. The verbiage warns any parties other than the recipient that the fax’s content includes medical files. The cover letter will inform all parties of the correct recipient, and the staff will know to refrain from reading any information. Business owners who want to learn more about the importance of HIPAA-compliant faxing can get started by contacting an appropriate service provider. 

Using High-Grade Encryption

All fax services should have high-grade encryption to protect the data, but when a company or hospital transmits medical data, the encryption must meet current HIPAA standards. High-grade encryption prevents outsiders from decoding the data and viewing any medical information. When choosing online faxing services, business owners must assess the level of encryption provided since the owners can face penalties for HIPAA violations. Not only that, it’s essential that your software is HL7 compliant and you’ve incorporated an FHIR server for data management and storage.

Aside from considering the encryption capabilities of the software you use, look into platforms built for the particular care you provide. For instance, cardiology-specific EHR solutions are convenient and safe for specialists in this area.

Limiting Access to Patient Files

All medical facilities must restrict access to patient files and medical data. When setting up user accounts, the company’s administrator can apply network security schemes to the new business services. Many healthcare workers use email to fax services since the options are secure and convenient.

Each user account must offer permissions and authorizations according to each worker’s security clearance. These levels define which worker can see the files and specific types of patient records. The administrator can block healthcare workers with limited access and prevent the employees from seeing certain fax transmissions. 

Tracking Access Points to the Data Storage

Network administrators can help improve security by tracking all access points to the data storage centers. If data becomes corrupted or stolen, the administrators must track the access point and what users viewed or changed the information. These efforts can help secure medical information and prevent unauthorized individuals from altering or completing unethical updates.  

Use Backup Media and Store the Data Off-Site

All medical records shared or stored through the information system must be backed up in case a disaster strikes. Healthcare administrators work with an IT security staff to manage backup media and store the files off-site. A secure data room can be an additional measure to safeguard sensitive information.

Cloud-based storage can provide a larger storage capacity for retained faxed documents and keep the records secure. The administrators collect backups for the records and have access to the media. If the on-site data storage becomes damaged, the administrators can recover the data and minimize loss.  

HIPAA compliance is required for all hospitals, medical centers, and private practices. The federal laws apply to the disclosure and transmission of all medical records, and all workers must follow appropriate steps when sending records via online fax services. By reviewing strategies for improving medical data security, administrators can protect patients and avoid unauthorized use of confidential files.  

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