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The Ultimate Guide to HIPAA-Compliant Video Conferencing

The major concern of most healthcare facilities and systems is how to protect the privacy of their patients. Over the years, the telehealth industry has boomed and introduced Updox video conferencing as an ongoing alternative means and trend for examination, appointment, and communication in the healthcare system. 

Over 70% of respondents in privacy research indicated that they have immense trust in the healthcare system to protect their privacy and keep the confidentiality oath.

Before the existence of HIPAA, the existing rules of privacy in the health system and clinical care settled under federal and state laws for privacy regulations. 

These rules immensely improved with the emergence and development of HIPAA and also HIPAA-compliant video conferencing. This ensures that patients enjoy the benefit of a digital environment that protects their data. 

Let’s take a closer look at HIPAA-compliant video conferencing and what it is about. 

What HIPAA is about

HIPAA refers to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Introduced in 1996, this act guarantees the protection of the privacy of patients and makes available an easy key to the patient’s medical histories

Most patients usually prefer to visit doctors for physical examinations and appointments. However, the modern-day introduces the alternative option of a telehealth service for the comfort and convince of the patient’s environment. 

Merely subscribing to a video streaming platform isn’t enough when it doesn’t protect the information and data of the users. This is important to ensure the safety and security of the user are in place. Most users are skeptical and sensitive about divulging personal information to the public and sling their information to carelessness and data breaches since it could be used against them. It could also be stolen to cause them harm and discomfort. 

This also means that there must be a guaranteed means of protecting the patient’s sensitive medical information to avoid a leak or breach of their data. This must also be guaranteed during the video conference. 

This sensitive information and data include:

  • The patient’s full name, date of birth, and social security number. 
  • Official resident address, contact number, and email information. 
  • Dates for the appointment, shared pictures, videos, biometric captures, and automobile identifiers
  • Patient’s medical documents, records, insurance records, and account details
  • IP address, web URLs (if any), and the serial number of their device. 

Who is HIPAA-Covered?

HIPAA covers healthcare service providers, healthcare houses, and institutions that offer healthcare services, treatments, and appointments. 

The concern of the HIPAA is to provide adequate cover for these services that deal with the health information of the patients during virtual meetings, treatment, and payments. The security and assured safety of clients is important for maximum satisfaction and trust to be established.

On the other hand, non-profit organizations (NGOs) and even private healthcare institutions are also regulated by HIPAA regulations. It all depends on their duty and dependent roles in treating patients, providing appointments, and assisting with patients’ healthcare treatment. 

Compliance regulations and rules for HIPAA institutions 

Certain compliance and regulatory statutes are often put in place to protect the interest of the patients and avoid a breach of their sensitive data. Thus, institutions and entities that are covered by HIPAA are expected to comply with these regulations, rules, and conducts for the benefit of the patient’s legal rights. 

Any healthcare practice and system that plans to include video conferencing plans and appointments as a part of its offerings and services must meet these standards. 

Note: these are strict regulatory requirements for every healthcare practice that employs the use of video appointments for client meetings and treatment. The compliance regulations cover privacy policy, security rules, and data breaches in the interest of the client. 

Whenever an issue occurs, any of these rules and compliance standards can be used as evidence against the platform for the benefit of the client. 

HIPAA Privacy Rule

The HIPAA sets regulations and standards in place to secure the rights of patients. The privacy rule is one of the major regulatory standards that protect access to sensitive data provided by patients during video meetings and treatments. It is also mandatory for the healthcare provider and service institution to share the privacy practice notice with the clients for approval. This must be done before the meeting commences. 

This way, the client knows what they are getting involved in and complying with the privacy rules of the platform at their own risk. When this is not adequately followed and abided by, the client has every right to sue the healthcare provider when certain mistakes and divulgence of information happens at random or by mistake. 

HIPAA Security Policy

The HIPAA security policy or standard provides adequate compliant standards for the transmission of electronic information, storage of data, access to devices, and network access for the use of PHI. The security policy ensures that the client’s data is absolutely protected during and after the call. Thus, nobody is able to exchange their information and private details with the platform. 

HIPAA Breach Notification Policy

HIPAA breach notification policy establishes strict standards and rules for reporting data breaches of clients from the minor to the majorly affected ones. In event of a data breach, this policy protects the client and ensures that adequate measures are put in place to restore their data in one piece. It also compensates for the affected ones from the minor to the major. 

Major HIPAA Compliance Standards for Video Conferencing

The recent emergence of telemedicine, video meetings for healthcare providers, and virtual treatments tighten the grip on PHI security for online appointments with health workers. 

Telehealth service agents have more advantages of proximity and convenience to attend to their clients. Video forum as an emergent technology provides room for remote providers and promotes the dispatch of protected health information (PHI) and electronically protected health information (ePHI). 

With this in place, there is an assurance of privacy, integrity, and available information. Fortunately, HIPAA-compliant video conferencing applications often assume a frontline approach toward protecting the data of their customers.

Telehealth service workers put safeguards in place for administrative, technical, and physical means to restore confidence in their compliance.

Thus, video conference platforms must meet these five conditions

Business Associate Agreement 

Business Associate Agreements are expected to adhere to the strict demands of HIPAA compliance by ensuring that all parties take strict active measures to protect the pHI of the patient. When looking for a video streaming tool for medical services, it is important that you pay close attention to the business associate agreement of the platform. 

End-to-End Encryption

One issue that most video streaming platforms encounter is the breach of data and authorized access from malicious users and third parties during the process of the video call. End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is one of the strict requirements of HIPAA-compliant platforms. 

Several video platforms like Skype and Facetime do not satisfy these end-to-end encryption demands. There is no high level of encryption available fr the benefit of the user’s privacy. Only devices used in the video call meeting can make use of the encryption key. 

Peer-to-Peer Connection

Peer-to-peer video meetings add to increased security by transporting data from one user to another user on the same server. HIPAA-compliant video conferencing depends on peer-to-peer connection to activate this secure connection for its users. This ensures that insecure video meetings will not hold. P2P connections are an essential requirement of HIPAA-compliant video streaming platforms. Before subscribing to one, always check and be sure that the platform satisfies and fulfills this demand between user to user.

Vendor Access and Auditing

Protecting sensitive data from malware and harmful users is essentially important and compliant with internal data policies or video conference platforms. HIPAA-compliant platform providers usually put administrative and technical measures in place to prevent unauthorized users from having access to any PHI classified information and also auditing processes when investigating these potentially harmful violations. 

Accidental Violations 

Most video conference platforms like Zoom are HIPAA compliant, this is because they check all the boxes that involve the protection of the data of their users and customers. However, the patient team could violate the procedures by accident while storing the patient’s information in their healthcare account. 

This is why partnering with a video streaming platform that adheres to the rules and procedures of the HIPAA helps a lot in avoiding the violation of these compliances completely. In event of such accidents and violations, the platform itself swings into action and provides first-hand protection that satisfies the demand of the HIPAA for the benefit of the clients in question. 

Conclusion

Simply adhering to trends and evolving with the times for the benefit of clients’ convenience and satisfaction isn’t always enough. One must ensure that the platform that they subscribe to for use is capable of protecting the information of their patients as well as their information too. A reliable HIPAA-compliant video conferencing platform has the ability to swing into action and provide immediate protection of sensitive data and client information for the benefit of the clients in question

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