E-mail has long been a staple of people's lives, but as we move into the new digital age, it seems everyone is moving to a new smart phone and wants to use it in all the incredible ways it can be used for health care purposes, including the use of e-mail and texting. Doctors are finding that texting is far more flexible, convenient, and effective than paging, and patients want to be able to use short message texting for handling of appointments, updates, and the like, where even e-mail or the telephone would seem inconvenient.
In order to integrate the use of e-mail and texting into patient communications, it is essential to perform the proper steps in an information security compliance process to evaluate and address the risks of using the technology. This session will describe the information security compliance process, how it works, and how it can help you decide how to integrate e-mail and texting into your organization in a compliant way. The process, including the use of information security risk analysis, will be explained, and the policies needed to support the process will be described.
But the process must also include consideration of various patient access requirements in the HIPAA Privacy Rule. There are new requirements to provide patients electronic access of electronically held PHI which raise new questions of how that access will be provided and how the information will be protected during and after access. And there has long been a HIPAA requirement for covered entities to do their best to meet the requests of their patients for particular modes of communication, and using e-mail or texting is no exception. The patient access process required in the HIPAA Privacy Rule will be fully explained.
The stakes are high - any improper exposure of PHI may result in an official breach that must be reported to the individual and to the US Department of Health and Human Services, at great cost and with the potential to bring fines and other enforcement actions if a violation of rules is involved. Likewise, complaints by a patient if they are not afforded the access they desire can bring about HHS inquiries and enforcement actions, so it is essential to find the right balance of access and control HHS compliance audit activity and enforcement penalties are both increased, especially in instances of willful neglect of compliance, if, for instance, your organization hasn't adopted the complete suite of policies and procedures needed for compliance, or hasn't adequately considered the impact of e-mail or texting on your compliance.
The session will discuss the requirements, the risks, and the issues of the increasing use of e-mail and texting for patient and provider communications and provide a road map for how to use them safely and effectively, to increase the quality of health care and patient satisfaction. In addition, the session will discuss how to be prepared for the eventuality that there is a breach, so that compliance can be assured.
Why should you Attend: Smart phones and the Internet have changed the way people communicate and introduced new risks into the process.Now patients want to be able to communicate with their health care providers, and providers want to communicate with each other using these devices, and to be able to access, send, and receive health information. But communications using mobile devices has some inherent privacy and security risks that may put providers out of compliance.
E-mail and texting present new challenges to health care providers, as there are simultaneously new requirements to share information with patients, and a new enforcement effort to ensure the privacy and security of Protected Health Information (PHI). Meeting both challenges requires careful consideration of all the regulations and technologies, as well as patient preferences and work flow. Patient rights to access and amend health information must be honored; access of information is identified as a key driver of improving the nation's health and HHS is keen to see it done properly.
Most HIPAA covered entities now face difficult choices between compliance and ease of communication. Most organizations haven't updated their information security risk analysis or policies and procedures and run the risk of breaches, rule violations, and fines in the event of mishandling of PHI using these new technologies.
Areas Covered in the Session: