It's safe to say that 'telemedicine' is no longer just a buzzword in the healthcare community. If you're unaware of what exactly telemedicine is, here is a brief definition.
Essentially, it is remote delivery of healthcare services through the use of the telecommunications infrastructure.
Perhaps the most common type of telemedicine is remote patient monitoring, where patients inflicted with chronic diseases can be monitored while they are home with medical devices that can collect vital signs like blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
The two other types of telemedicine are store-and-forward and interactive telemedicine.
Store-and-forward allows physicians to share patient information with another health professional at another location.
Interactive medicine refers to devices that give physicians the chance to communicate with patients in real-time. Typically the device will feature a screen with video conferencing software.
As you can see, all three types of telemedicine involve sharing sensitive information in one form or another, so it is important that any company that uses this type of medicine is HIPAA compliant.
To remain HIPAA compliant with your telemedicine company, make sure you follow these crucial steps.
1. Authorized Personnel Only
This should probably go without saying, but it's good to go over anyway. Make sure that your telemedicine process clearly states that only authorized personnel with the correct credentials can access medical information.
Check, double-check, and triple-check that only those with the correct login information and passwords can gain access to remote patient monitoring information, store-and-forward data, and interactive medicine conversations.
Working with a professional healthcare IT team can help ensure that you have the proper systems in place to keep out anyone who shouldn't be reading your patients' information.
2. Secure System of Communication
This HIPAA guideline refers to avoiding any insecure lines of communication when it comes to passing medical information back and forth.
So, this means that email, SMS, Skype, and other platforms like these should be avoided at all costs within your telemedicine process.
While Google does a great job in keeping Gmail safe to use, it is not a strong enough avenue to distribute and receive extremely sensitive information — especially the massive amounts of data that healthcare companies are in charge of.
Keep this in mind too: when a third-party company stores the information created by a healthcare professional or organization, the organization must have a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with that third party company.
Within this BAA, there must be a description of the methods used by the third-party to ensure the protection of the information and data. In addition, it must also outline provisions for regular auditing of the security of the data.
3. System of Monitoring Communications
Another HIPAA guideline that targets telemedicine is the requirement to have a system available that can monitor all communications.
What this means is that your systems must have the ability to monitor and remotely delete any information in scenarios where it is necessary. For example, if you were getting hacked or someone was attempting to breach your data during communication through your systems, then you need to be able to respond to it quickly and efficiently.
4. Trust in Medicus IT For All Your HIPAA Compliant Needs
Here at Medicus IT, we specialize in healthcare. We know HIPAA and are intimately familiar with the rules, regulations, and guidelines that are necessary to keep your healthcare company or practice compliant while securing your patients' personal information.
We help healthcare practices maintain compliance by considering HIPAA best practices as we implement new systems and resolve day to day technical issues.
With a talented team of IT experts who are passionate about keeping your information safe, we provide ongoing training so that our engineers are up to date with best practices to maintain your compliance with HIPAA and reduce any risk of hacks or breaches.
If your practice does experience a security breach, an audit follows soon after. This could potentially mean millions in fines. Healthcare practices are experiencing security breaches everywhere, so securing your patient data should be a top priority for your practice.