Securely Sending COVID-19 and Other Test Results to Patients

February 9th, 2021

Securely Sending COVID-19 and Other Test Results via Email or Text

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear just how important it is to have secure, quick, and effective methods for sending test results to patients. A faster response may help to limit further exposures, because those with positive results may be even more likely to comply with isolation protocols. A quicker negative test result will also help people get back to their normal lives sooner.

Security is of the utmost importance, both for the privacy of patients, and also so that medical labs stay within the lines of HIPAA legislation. The need for fast, HIPAA-compliant and easy-to-access solutions may be more apparent during the current crisis,  but it will continue to be important in a post-pandemic world. Rapid results can help patients get the treatment they need in a more timely manner, and help to ease the stress that comes from longer waiting periods.

Securely Sending Test Results to Patients

While there are few providers that can meet these complex and disparate requirements, LuxSci offers solutions that are uniquely capable of securely sending large volumes of individual messages, either by email or text.

The Needs of Medical Labs

Let’s take a look at the needs of a hypothetical lab, either during or after the pandemic. If it’s a large lab, it may be running tens of thousands of tests each day, so it needs a solution that:

  • Can handle large volumes.
  • Can scale with the lab and the community’s needs. If an illness rages through the community, the service needs to be able to keep up with the increased numbers of tests.
  • Is fast. If it takes too long for patients to receive their results, it can delay treatment and isolation, while also increasing their stress.
  • Is easy for patients to access. Test results can be critical, so patient’s need to be able to access them without having to run through too many hoops, and without needing too much technical knowledge.
  • Is secure and helps to keep patient information private.
  • Can track whether a patient has accessed their results, so the lab knows whether a follow-up is necessary.

Many of the most common services aren’t designed with some of these requirements in mind, so they aren’t suitable for the unique circumstances that medical labs find themselves in. The situation can get even more complex when you consider the regulatory environment.

How Do HIPAA Regulations Affect Medical Labs?

Medical labs may not always be considered covered entities under HIPAA, but they do tend to be business associates to hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare organizations. When they process patient ePHI, either on behalf of other organizations or their own patients, they are bound by the narrow confines of HIPAA laws.

These laws aim to protect patient data, and they come with serious consequences if they are violated. If medical labs want to avoid the heavy fines and other penalties, then they need to use a HIPAA-compliant service to distribute their test results to patients.

Medical labs may be tempted by quasi-HIPAA compliant service providers because they tend to be more prominent. However, these services aren’t designed with HIPAA in mind, which makes using them much riskier when it comes to complying with the regulations. It’s much safer and easier to use a service that was specifically developed with HIPAA in mind.

How Can Medical Labs Send Test Results in a Secure and HIPAA-Compliant Manner?

LuxSci offers two main options that are ideal for these circumstances. Both Secure High Volume Email and SecureText are designed to be fast, functional, effective, and easy-to use, while still offering the security and HIPAA compliance your organization needs to protect patient ePHI.

How a Medical Lab Can Use LuxSci’s Secure High Volume Email

Let’s say a lab analyzes thousands of tests, and wishes to send all of the results out in bulk at the end of the day. With LuxSci’s Secure High Volume Email Service, it can:

  • Send out the individual results to thousands of recipients.
  • Make each message secure and HIPAA-compliant with TLS and PortalPickup.
  • Track which patients have opened their results.

The process that allows all of this to happen goes a little like this:

  • The medical lab would use its software to generate all of the individualized test result messages.
  • The lab’s email or API client would securely connect to LuxSci’s outbound servers over TLS.
  • It would then send the messages to LuxSci for encryption and delivery.
  • Once LuxSci receives these messages, it would encrypt and digitally sign them, before storing them in a secured database with SecureLine Escrow.
  • LuxSci then sends each recipient a normal email, telling them that their test results are waiting for them. These messages can be completely customized with the medical lab’s own branding.
  • When the recipient receives this email, they can click on the link, which takes them to a secure web page, which can also be customized with the lab’s branding.
  • The recipient can then verify themselves by either registering for free, or answering a verification question from the lab (such as, “What is your lab ID number?”)
  • The recipient can then securely access the test results, while the tracking mechanism allows the lab to see which recipients have accessed their results and at what times.

LuxSci’s Secure High Volume Email service also gives labs the ability to retract messages, set messages to expire after a predetermined period, and to send messages with attachments of up to 200MB.

SecureText

Our SecureText service also allows medical labs to securely send test results to the phones of patients, all in a secure and HIPAA-compliant manner. The most important difference between SecureText and Secure Email is that SecureText uses SMS messages to send the notification that links to the secure web page, rather than email.

The first time a recipient receives a SecureText message, they will need to set up a short PIN for future access. They will also need to enter their email address, just in case they ever need to recover their account. After this, they can securely access their messages via the web portal on their phones (they do not have to download and App to use SecureText).

Between SecureText and Secure High Volume Email, LuxSci enables medical labs to choose whichever methods are most suitable for themselves and their patients and to customize those modes to meet their unique business needs.. Both services allow labs to quickly send results in an easy-to-access manner, all with the security and HIPAA compliance mechanisms necessary to keep both patients and the lab safe. Contact our staff to find out more on how these services can better serve your recipients and your organization.

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