A realistic approach to internet security for medical practices – Part 2: Secure Corporate Email
Better Corporate Email
A good corporate email system designed to make your business more efficient while meeting HIPAA security guidelines should be a focus of all medical practices, big or small. Email has become such an important aspect of today’s business; it makes business sense to invest in a proper email system. The most time-saving email feature critical to every business is full email/calendar/contacts synchronization between your office PC, home PC, laptop and mobile phone. Features such as Anti-Spam, Anti-Virus, unlimited attachment size and unlimited mailbox size are some other features that medical practices find valuable.
HIPAA and Email
HIPAA regulations pertaining to email are extensive, but there are three rules that all practices must follow in order to meet HIPAA guidelines:
- Encryption – Accessing your email through a web browser and receiving/sending emails in an email application (Outlook, mobile phone, etc.) must be encrypted using at least 128-bit encryption.
- Archiving – HIPAA requires all emails sent and received to be archived for later retrieval. While this is an important HIPAA regulation, it also has significant value to a medical practice. Archiving essentially stores a backup of all emails; so if Julie, your front desk receptionist, sends a nasty email to a patient and deletes it, you’ll still have a copy of it.
- Consultations via email – Communicating with patients on medical matters via email is, generally speaking, a HIPAA violation. While you can control security on your server’s side, you can’t control your patients’ ability to manage their email in a secure manner. Beside the HIPAA risk, it’s a practice that doctors should not get used to; many email accounts are shared by spouses and emails are frequently read by prying eyes.
Best practices to for email
- Implement a secure corporate email system with archiving that meets both your HIPAA and business goals. We at Medical Web Experts offer secure corporate emails solutions with archiving for $10/mo. per email.
- Don’t communicate with patients via email on anything medical-related. Instead, implement a Patient Portal system through your EMR or with a solution such as Medical Web Experts Basic or Enterprise Patient Portal solutions.
HIPAA – All bark and no bite?HIPAA is a highly complicated law (400 pages worth), even challenging for someone with both an IT and law background. Since its creation, there has been a lot of bark and no bite when it comes to enforcement – but this is all changing. In the past 2 years, we at Medical Web Experts have seen a significant increase in citations for HIPAA violations and medical practices being contacted with warnings from HIPAA governing organizations. Therefore, its important to have a plan to meet HIPAA guidelines in your practice, focusing on the highest risk issues to meet both HIPAA guidelines and to protect your business from real issues that can severely affect your business, such as data loss, lawsuits and website downtime.
About the Author
John Deutsch is the founder of Medical Web Experts and has spent the last 10 years working the healthcare IT industry, specializing in Electronic Medical Records, Network Administration and Software Development. To learn more about Medical Web Experts and their services, please visit www.medicalwebexperts.com. Learn more about Healthcare Internet Security. Read the other articles in this 3 post series: