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HIPAA Encryption and Mobile Phones: Do You Know If You’re Committing Violations?
03 Aug 2020

HIPAA Encryption and Mobile Phones: Do You Know If You’re Committing Violations?

You can keep patient data safe and your call center out of hot water. To do this, you must understand the rules about HIPAA encryption. For many decision-makers, HIPAA encryption and compliance has proven confusing – to say the least.

Confusion arises around the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wording. They label the rules as addressable rather than HIPAA encryption requirements.

The HHS leaves it up to service providers to decide on security measures. Yet, those measures must prove appropriate for ensuring the security of patient information.

These terms are vague phrases that people aren’t used to hearing – at least not from government agencies. This phrasing leaves many executives unsure of how to manage protected health information.

To learn more about HIPAA approved encryption and mobile devices, keep reading.

What the HHS Says About HIPAA Encryption

According to the HHS, encryption is changing an original message into encoded text. the department’s website says organizations can do this using an algorithm.

Algorithm encrypted data reduces the chance that unintended recipients can read sensitive information. It also states that appropriate personnel can have access to this patient data. With an algorithm, the sender and receiver can encrypt and decrypt vital health information.

HIPAA encryption policy is vague. Much of the confusion about information security comes from the word “addressable.” By “addressable,” the HHS means that if data is at risk, you must address that threat.

The agency leaves it up to organizations to decide how to protect data. If an organization decides that it doesn’t need to protect data, it must state why. It must do so in writing and submit that information to the HHS.

Also, the organization must make use of another security measure. It must prove as effective as encryption. If your organization can find another way to protect patient data, it’s your responsibility to do so.

In other words, your organization will need to create an encryption program. Is your organization prepared to get into the software development business?

Researchers currently spend countless hours and funds trying to develop better software encryption. A more effective solution is to partner with a third-party VoIP service provider. The right VoIP provider offers embedded encryption with its communication services.

Think Security First for Your Call Center

Addressable sounds like a casual term; however, it’s anything but casual. What the HHS means is that if your organization should do something, it needs to do it now.

You can use an alternative to encryption, but you’re hard-pressed to find a capable alternative solution. You must also provide a reason why your organization hasn’t used existing technology.

The HHS rules also deploy another ambiguous term – “whenever deemed appropriate.” This term means that you must protect communications at all times. These communications include all voice and written messages about patients.

The HHS recognizes that technology changes – and fast. Decision-makers at the HHS realized that today’s HIPAA encryption standards could become irrelevant quickly.

The HHS didn’t want to leave care providers at the mercy of hackers who move faster than rules. This foresight has empowered care providers to make changes as necessary. Yet, organizations must still follow the spirit of data protection rules.

HIPAA Encryption for Modern Communication

Today, a growing number of care providers use text messaging to communicate with patients. However, those communications also require HIPAA encryption.

Text messaging is a great way to build relationships with patients and gather information. It’s also an effective tool for emergencies.

Mobile devices have built-in encryption. However, that doesn’t mean that your communications are HIPAA compliant because you send them from one device to another. Your organization must demonstrate that it’s encrypting those text communications beyond the protection provided by mobile service to remain in HIPAA compliance.

For example, text communications with patients must travel to a secure server set up to store and manage sensitive data. This safeguard prevents malicious actors from creating duplicate copies of messages and compromising patient information.

Your communication system must also give you the ability to add and remove access. You must also have the ability to delete data.

If you fail to remain in HIPAA compliance, your organization could face hefty fines. Those fines start at only $100 for oversights. Yet, they can reach more than one million dollars for willful transgressions.

Partnering for Reliable Compliance

If you’re having problems figuring out HIPAA compliance for your VoIP phone system, a premium service provider can help you solve them. First, however, you need to figure out your organization’s needs. For example, VoIP service providers offer a range of enterprise tools, such as:

• B2C text messaging

• Cloud PBX

• Online teleconferencing

• Online video conferencing

• Team SMS

• VoIP Calling

More importantly, however, these services must provide encryption. High-level encryption is a top benefit of HIPAA compliant VoIP services.

Don’t Take Risks! Make Sure Your Organization Is Compliant

Texting can help you bridge the communications gap with your patients. However, you must ensure HIPAA compliance with internal training.

You must establish HIPAA encryption policy. You must also establish appropriate procedures and make sure that employees know those measures. By taking these steps, you can ensure HIPAA compliance for text communication.

iPlum can help you take your organization to the next level in doctor-patient communication. We can provide you with exceptional HIPAA compliant texting, calls, voicemail, and interactive voice response menus.

Contact us today to learn more about HIPAA and encryption as well as the latest generation in compliant communications.

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