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Posts Tagged ‘ePHI’

6 Essentials For Privacy and Security in Telehealth

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

HIPAA covers Telehealth but does this make it safe? Learn the measures that ensure patient safety and privacy while using a virtual doctor visit program. 

The rise of telehealth in healthcare has transformed patient-doctor interaction. Nonetheless, the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI) still remain a big question. These concerns make sense because a new technology, usually, comes with new challenges.

What is Telehealth?

Luckily, every problem comes with a solution. Thus, making a few smart choices can work wonders to keep the patient data protected.

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What exactly is ePHI? Who has to worry about it? Where can it be safely located?

Friday, September 15th, 2017

There is often a great deal of confusion and misinformation about what, exactly, constitutes ePHI (electronic protected health information) which must be protected due to HIPAA requirements.  Even once you have a grasp of ePHI and how it applies to you, the next question becomes … where can I put ePHI and where not?  What is secure and what is not?

We will answer the “what is ePHI” question in general, and the “where can I put it” question in the context of web and email hosting, and SecureForm processing at LuxSci.

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Text “NO” to stop the HIPAA Violations

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

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What is your ePHI I.Q.? Take the Quiz.

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Patient data saved electronically and protected by HIPAA is known as ePHI.  A solid understanding of what is and is not ePHI is one most significant things preventing HIPAA breaches due to human error — one of the most common causes of beach in health care.

Take our 7-question quiz to see how your knowledge of what is and is not ePHI rates.

If my web site is very simple, do I have to worry about HIPAA compliance?

Friday, March 24th, 2017

We received this questions via Ask Erik from a Physicians’ Association:

“Our company website does not contain any patient information.  As a healthcare group, do we need to worry about HIPAA compliance for our site? It contains forms, news and some company polices and procedures but no patient information whatsoever. Thank you.”

Thank you for your question!  Here, we delve into how you can answer this for your site.

 

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Does HIPAA really permit reminding patients to pick up their prescriptions?

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

We get calls and text messages from pharmacies like CVS, reminding us that it is time to pick up and/or renew our prescriptions for drugs or other medical items. When you think about HIPAA, this is confusing. In many cases, these reminders constitute Protected Health Information (PHI) … so is this really allowed?

The default answer of “it must be OK if CVS is doing it” is naive as it loses all of the context about what is and is not permitted and does not shed any insight into when and how other organizations may similarly inform or remind patients of things such as prescriptions and appointments.

Is it really PHI?

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Press Release: How To Text and Remain HIPAA-compliant

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

WESTWOOD, MA, March 15, 2016 — LuxSci® announces the recent launch of SecureText, a unique solution to concerns about HIPAA-compliant text messaging, and an important step to safeguard and secure electronic patient health information (ePHI).

Communicating through text message is a convenience to which we have grown rapidly accustomed. However, sending unsecured texts places healthcare providers and patients at risk in several ways: (1) ePHI-laden messages are not always encrypted during transmission or storage; (2) anyone with access to a recipient’s phone or stored messages can view ePHI-laden messages; (3) and some ePHI-laden text messages travel through organizations which lack required HIPAA Business Associate Agreements. Additionally, since healthcare providers are required to obtain and maintain consent from patients for texting – providers must ensure that patients are adequately educated on the risks associated with sending ePHI via text and presented with secure alternatives to insecure texting.

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eBook: HIPAA-compliant Email Basics

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

Safeguarding Your Healthcare Practice and Protecting Patient Privacy

Book 1 in the LuxSci Internet Security Series.

Created by Erik Kangas, PhD

This LuxSci eBook is your well-researched guide to both a critical understanding of the specific issues and concepts of HIPAA, HITECH, and the Omnibus rule, and their practical application to your business with respect to email, so that you stay compliant with these government standards. This document will provide a framework for your health care entity to keep the privacy of patient information front and center. Providers will have the necessary tools to meet all requirements established by HIPAA to access email outsourcing services.

This eBook includes sections on:

  1. Overview of HIPAA
  2. What is ePHI?
  3. Provisions of the HIPAA Email Security Rule
  4. Additional Risk Analysis and the Need for Encryption
  5. Gmail and Google Apps?

Download the eBook

Is Email Encryption via Just TLS Good Enough for Compliance with Government Regulations?

Monday, August 24th, 2015

There are many ways to encrypt email, TLS being the simplest and most seamless.  With SMTP TLS (the use of TLS encryption to secure the “SMTP Protocol” used for the transmission of email between computers), messages are transported between the sender, recipient, and all servers securely.  TLS is a layer that fits seamlessly over “regular email” to ensure transport email encryption when supported by both the message sender and the recipient.  With SMTP TLS, sending a secure message works and feels the same as sending any other email message.

“It just works.” That is the ideal combination of security and usability.

SMTP TLS for Email Encryption

However, SMTP TLS only solves the problem of email encryption during transmission from sender to recipient.  It does not in any way secure an email message while it is at rest, whether while in the sender’s “sent email” folder, queued or backed up on the email servers of the sender or recipient, or saved and stored in the email recipient’s folders.  While SMTP TLS is really easy to use, it is important to consider if use of SMTP TLS alone is “good enough” for companies to comply with the many U.S. government laws which apply to email.

When it  is “good enough,” organizations may opt for the seamless simplicity of TLS over the added complexity of other modes of secure email communication.

In this article, we shall examine the security afforded by SMTP TLS and compare that to other modes of email encryption such as PGP, S/MIME, and Escrow (i.e. picking up your message from a secure web portal).  We shall then look at many of the most important laws (HIPAA, GLBA, Sarbanes-Oxley, SB1386, NASD 3010, FRCP, SEX 17a-4, FINRA, and PCI DSS)  to see what is said or implied about using “Just TLS” vs. other, stronger forms of encryption.  We won’t spend a lot of time explaining each law; if you are interested there are innumerable articles on the web for that.  We  focus only on what they say or imply about encryption for email transmission and storage.

The short answer is that many of these laws outline various requirements for email storage, archival, and retrieval for legal proceedings without specifically delineating requirements for the encryption of those messages.  So, use of TLS is just fine with respect to those.

For PCI compliance, avoid email if at all possible; however, if you must use email for sending credit card data, “Just TLS” is not sufficient.

For the rest, the burden ends up being on each individual organization to decide for itself the level of encryption appropriate to protect sensitive data.  Use of encryption methods that provide protection for data at rest can mitigate liability in the case of a breach, but they are not mandated.  There are also ways of protecting data at rest that do not involve more onerous methods of email encryption.

Indeed, your internal risk analysis may find that “Just TLS” is best in some cases and methods that provide explicit data-at-rest email encryption are warranted in others.

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7 Ways You Could be Unknowingly Violating HIPAA

Friday, August 14th, 2015

Non-compliance with HIPAA can easily lead to unintended breaches where data is exposed to unauthorized parties.  This can be very expensive!  The cost of a breach depends on your degree of negligence; it ranges from $100 to $50,000 per violation (or per data record).

You don’t want to be caught in a situation where inaction, neglect, or lack of knowledge can result in unintended breaches.  Many small and large organizations are often unknowingly using systems in a way that is either already in breach or which results in frequent sporadic breaches.

Check your organization!

If any of the following scenarios apply to you, it is worth bringing them up the person responsible for compliance (your HIPAA Security Officer) to include in your mandatory yearly Risk Analysis.  Is the risk of breach worth continuing with “business as usual?”

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