HIPAA and Email – How does Practice Deal With Compliance in the Digital Age

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The Internet has created new business for less practice specializes in health and medical care (eg dermatologist, plastic surgeon, physiotherapist, psychologist, et. Al). More and more, patients are looking to communicate with health care providers as they do in their personal and business lives -. Email

Send as a communication solution for smaller clinics can be a time-saving resource. It can replace multiple calls and postal mail, add a financial benefit to my health.

Is email eliminate office visit? Nothing replaces the personal face-to-face office visit, but email can be an additional tool doctors can perform to optimize their practices.

Some health workers do, however, emailing their patients equates to working for free, but some institutions have already agreed to charge for e-mail consultations.

In some practices, patients pay a fixed fee from $ 100 to several hundred dollars a year for this type of service. Harvard professor of medicine Dr. Daniel Z. Sands, spokesman for digital clinic, said: “I think it is fair to assume that if lawyers and accountants charge for time, then physicians should too. (1)”

Sustainability Health Information is also wanted by the government. As part of the mandate of the president to move toward digital medical issues clinical practice in the next ten years (2). The National Coordinator for Health IT, Dr. David Brailes, noted the value added benefits of investing in health IT


ICT supports the treatment of choice for consumers and allows better and more efficient care … Health IT not only adds value to the way people lead their lives, but it gets more out of your investment in the health system as a whole. (3)

It is possible for clinics to increase digital medical office while remaining financially solid. Rights management software tools have become a reality for small and medium business office (4). Small Business Rights Management (SBRM) reflects changes Rights Management software tools.

SBRM solutions provide clinics and practices to a lesser extent the same level of user rights management and encryption previously available to larger medical institutions (eg state hospitals, large medical facilities at the University network, etc.).

With any medical advance, the side effects of the solution or resolution, must also be considered. While email is a useful time-wise and financially, there are also disadvantages to using this tool – many related to HIPAA. According to a 2005 study in Health Privacy Project, 70% of Americans are concerned that personal health information (PHI) may be published because of weak data security (5)

Currently, an organization of health professionals must provide the disclosure statement when communications are sent to their patients. Examples of email disclosure statement healthcare could read like this:

Customer information collected by [Clinic or organization name] is protected by Federal Law. If these interactions are all customer information, including information that would identify the customer, you are prohibited from redisclosing it to any person or organization in any way, and you need to keep it confidential. If not concerning civil and criminal penalties. If such information has reached you in error, please contact [Clinic or organization’s name] contact@emailaddress.com

With the advent of phishing, malware, and spyware, as an unintended recipient could potential patients Phi spread like a virus; use or sell the data to any number of malicious sites.

Protection Phi patient is ingrained concept within the medical profession. Legislation and government mandates are taking this idea a step further, health care, not compatible to protect Phi patient’s face stiff penalties under HIPAA. PHI includes and is not limited to:

  • patient’s address, telephone number
  • Treating Hospital / Clinic assigned patient
  • date of birth of the patient / SSN
  • Patients legal relatives / guardian and telephone number of
  • insurance information of the patient (pre-certification / DSHS / Medicare)
  • Advice Admission Date and Time

While there are some drawbacks to email, will patients the option to send an email to your doctor, pharmacist, therapist or hospital. “People are often comfortable talking to a computer than they are to the doctor,” said Dr. Delbanco, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and lead author of the article on doctors and e-mail in the New England Journal of Medicine (6).

Dealing with HIPAA compliance issues can often be frustrating to a small clinical practice. SBRM solutions bridge the gap between staying current with regulatory healthcare industry and keep small physician practice open. Patient / client information, private announcement of the diagnosis / treatment, and medical billing mentioned privacy, only the intended recipient will see this information

With SBRM solutions. clinics do not have to worry that their content violates religious Hippocratic Oath is confidentiality by revealing Phi patient. Healthcare providers can be both respectful and compliant under HIPAA for patient privacy

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End Notes :.

1) Dr. . Daniel Z. Sands cited in the article Liz Kowalczyk is “Is E-Mailing future doctor-patient relation?” The Boston Globe, D2, April 27, 2004, Lexis Nexus -. http://www.lexisnexus.com

2) United States Department of Health and Human Services, “manager Leavitt Takes New Steps to Advance health There,” Press Release on the HHS website 6 June 2005 [http://www.os.dhhs.gov/]

3.) “Comments from David Brailes, MD PhD National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Hims, 2005” 17. February 2005 http://www.himss.org

4) SBRM in Wikipedia – [http :. // En. . wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_Business_Rights_Management]

5) “The majority of Americans have privacy concerns about the electronic medical records system,” Health Privacy Project (www.heathprivacy.org): [http://www.healthprivacy.org/info-url_nocat2303/info-url_nocat_show.htm?doc_id=263085]

6.) Anahad O’Connor, “Take Two aspirin e-mail me tomorrow,” The New York Times, Section F; Column 5; Health & Fitness; September 7, 2005, Lexis Nexis – http://www.lexisnexus.com 30

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