Technology can help your practice run more smoothly, but it comes with a host of HIPAA concerns. Are you using any of these 11 risky technologies?
Posted in Articles on Monday, October 30, 2023
HIPAA compliance is a crucial aspect of managing your successful practice. It’s important to avoid using technologies that don’t meet the necessary HIPAA standards. Here are 11 you should avoid adding to your practice toolbox.
1. Consumer Messaging Apps
Popular consumer messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and SMS texting, are generally not considered HIPAA-compliant. Using these to send patient information could result in data breaches, as they generally lack the necessary encryption and security controls.
2. Personal Email Accounts
Using personal email accounts like Gmail or Yahoo to send or receive patient information is an outright HIPAA violation. These email services are not secure enough to protect sensitive health care data.
3. Public Cloud Storage
The basic versions of storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, or iCloud generally do not include a proper Business Associate Agreement (BAA), which means they are likely not HIPAA-compliant. It's essential to use cloud services that offer HIPAA-compliant solutions and sign a BAA with the service provider.
4. Outdated Software and Operating Systems
Using outdated software and operating systems can expose your records to vulnerabilities hackers can exploit. It’s important to regularly update and patch your systems to maintain HIPAA compliance.
5. Unsecured Portable Devices
Accessing patient data without proper security measures in place using unsecured mobile device like personal smartphones or tablets is a HIPAA violation. There are mobile device management (MDM) systems to protect your data.
6. Social Media
Sharing patient information or images on social media platforms without patient consent and appropriate security measures is a clear breach of HIPAA regulations.
7. Non-Encrypted Storage Devices
Using unencrypted external hard drives, USB drives, or other storage devices to store patient data is a security risk. Lost or stolen devices can result in data breaches.
8. Non-Secure Websites
Ensure your website uses secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption for data transmission to avoid compromising patient information security.
9. Fax Machines and Copiers with Internal Storage
Older fax machines and copiers often have internal hard drives that can store patient information, making it accessible to unauthorized personnel. Securely configure and regularly clear stored data from these devices.
10. Free Wi-Fi
Offering free public Wi-Fi may seem like a nice thing to do for your patients, but it opens you up to potential issues when transmitting patient information. Any Wi-Fi networks used in your office should be secured and require strong authentication.
11. Unsupported or Insecure Telehealth Platforms
While telehealth has become more common, not all platforms are HIPAA-compliant. Ensure that any telehealth platform you use meets the necessary security and privacy requirements.
Regularly evaluate and choose technology solutions that adhere to HIPAA regulations. You should also continuously monitor and update your technology to maintain compliance. Violations can result in significant fines and legal repercussions. If you’re not comfortable evaluating your own systems, there are HIPAA compliance experts and technology professionals that can help ensure the technologies you use are in line with HIPAA requirements.
For more information about HIPAA risks in your practice, check out our free webinar "HIPAA Awareness Training and Risk Assessment" with Dr. Mario Fucinari.