If you work in the healthcare industry, you’re almost certainly aware of the need for HIPAA compliance, and indeed likely already have processes in place to ensure that you are compliant in all applicable areas of your work. However, if you have a need for video conferencing, it’s vital that your solution is consistent with HIPAA compliance. How can you choose the best HIPAA compliant video conferencing? To help you address this question, allow us to break down our discussion into several key points:
- Understanding what HIPAA compliance actually means
- Which companies and entities are affected?
- Why is HIPAA compliance so important?
- How can you chose the best HIPAA compliant video conferencing?
Understanding What HIPAA Compliance Actually Means
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, abbreviated HIPAA, is responsible for setting the standard for sensitive patient data protection. Consequently, for companies who deal with protected health information, ensuring that the procedures they have in place are HIPAA complaint is vital.
Which Companies and Entities are Affected?
There are many entities and bodies that need to be HIPAA compliant. For instance, anyone who provides treatment, payment, or operations within a healthcare setting needs to ensure that their procedures are HIPAA compliant. This also includes business associates who have access to patient information, as well as other entities like subcontractors. All these bodies must take the matter of HIPAA compliance very seriously. Of course, as we will discuss, this includes the area of video conferencing.
Why is HIPAA Compliance so Important?
We live in an age where more and more information and procedures are being carried out using computerized systems. Even though this boosts efficiency and often increases accuracy within the industry, it certainly poses issues when it comes to protecting patient information, as electronic data can be breached or leaked in a way that physical files cannot. Hence, the need for HIPAA compliance has never been so critical.
How Can You Choose the Best HIPAA Compliant Video Conferencing?
Video conferencing is vital in many industries, especially in the world of healthcare. It can help individuals receive exceptional care from the best specialists, can aid patients in managing chronic conditions, can help medical professionals achieve better health outcomes, and much more. Indeed, there is no doubt that video conferencing has its place in the healthcare world and a very important one at that. However, it is vital that the video conferencing used is HIPAA compliant. What factors can help a healthcare professional or company choose the best HIPAA compliant video conferencing for their needs?
An Encrypted Solution
If you are not familiar with the world of technology, you may wonder what encryption is. To briefly explain, the process of encryption scrambles video packets of data when they are in transit across the Web. This means that the data, which is traveling from one place to another, can't be understood until it reaches the recipient's device and merges with their video software. At this point, the data is then decrypted, and the recipient can fully understand the information.
Let's consider why this is a vital factor. Imagine you are a patient sitting in the treatment room of a specialist. How do you feel? Granted, it's often not the easiest and calmest moment in your life when sitting in front of a medical professional; however, you likely don't worry about your information, or what you are about to say being broadcast to the world.
Meeting with a medical professional over a HIPAA compliant video conference call should be able to give you the same sense of security and confidence. It should have all necessary security measures in place to give you all the peace of mind you need. Encryption plays a major role in creating this secure environment.
Peer-to-Peer Networking Is Vital
In simple terms, a peer-to-peer network is an internet connection which connects two computers directly, without going through a central server. This is typically considered the most secure way to transmit sensitive information, since a server is not required, which is an extra point of vulnerability.
When data streams run through a server, they run the risk of being attacked. Granted, there are many systems in place to protect information and prevent attacks; however, the moment the information reaches and passes through the server is often when it is at its most vulnerable. Unfortunately, the wrong type of people, who seek and use confidential information for their own use, are well aware of this fact. In compliance with HIPAA, video conferencing that does not need a server to operate eliminates one huge risk to security.
Video Recording Needs to Be Secure
While video conference recording is often an important process, which helps ensure that a history of care is created for the patient, it also presents several significant risks. For this reason, when looking for the best HIPAA approved video conferencing, it is important to choose a system that records sessions in the safest way possible. Storage of such sessions should always be made following the highest levels of HIPAA compliance, including use of encryption. When secure, HIPAA compliant video conferencing will safeguard critical private data.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, HIPAA compliance exists for a very important reason; protecting the patient and their confidential information is your priority, and always should be. When looking for the best HIPAA compliant video conferencing, whether free or otherwise, it is important to understand the matter of compliance in as much detail as you are able, as well as knowing which entities and bodies are affected. Once you have a good understanding of the field of compliance and what to look for in a HIPAA compliant video conferencing service, it will be easier for you to compare available video conferencing systems by using the tips we have outlined for you in this article.
Remember, HIPAA compliance protects the patient – and your video conferencing solution should work hand-in-hand with this compliance.
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