Technology has completely revolutionized how people communicate, especially within the business world. While many technologies have gone by the wayside, the fax machine still remains one of the most-used communication devices, especially for those working in the healthcare industry. Part of the reason for this is the need for healthcare providers to follow the rules laid out by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

While the fax machine is a go-to method for transferring patient information securely, some things need to be done to ensure healthcare providers are faxing with HIPAA compliance.

And also, HIPAA violations carry heavy penalties, so check out the information below to understand why HIPAA compliance is essential in fax.

HIPAA Violations Explained

HIPAA lays out a lot of rules for how to handle patient information. For example, only the most essential information can be shared, so even including a little extra information is considered a violation. Some other violations that healthcare providers must know include:

  • Failing to monitor who has access to patient health information (PHI)
  • Disclosing any PHI without explicit permission from the patient
  • Allowing unauthorized access to PHI
  • Not disposing of PHI when it is no longer needed
  • Failure to establish safeguards to protect PHI
  • Failure to establish PHI access controls
  • Failing to get a HIPAA compliant agreement from vendors before sharing patient information
  • Failure to document HIPAA compliance efforts

There are many more rules that healthcare providers must follow to remain compliant. Many of these rules apply to transferring information via fax, so healthcare providers need to be familiar with these rules and establish protocols for how to handle information when faxing. For example, fax machines must have a person assigned to them whose job it is to check for incoming documents so the information does not sit in the machine unattended.

Breaching HIPAA Compliance

There are severe monetary penalties for healthcare providers that breach HIPAA compliance. Fines calculate per violation, so if there is more than one, providers can expect to charge quite a bit regardless of whether the violations were accidental. Depending on the violation, fines can be between $100 and $50,000.

Remaining HIPAA Compliant with Fax

Since faxing is an area in which lots of patient information transfer between parties. It should take very gravely when trying to remain HIPAA compliant. Fax machines themselves can be unreliable, but medical offices continue to use them because of eHealth system interoperability issues. However, one of the best methods to ensure HIPAA compliance while faxing is to switch to a cloud-based online faxing system.

Online faxing services offer more than just digital faxing services. They are more secure than traditional fax machines. They use state-of-the-art data encryption to protect information and eliminate the need for a person to monitor a machine for incoming fax documents. The best online faxing services understand the need for HIPAA compliance. And will only offer services that meet those rigid standards.

The Bottom Line

Faxing is an integral part of communication in the medical industry. For healthcare providers to remain HIPAA compliant and avoid violations. They need to pay close attention to the policies around how faxes handle. Cloud-based online faxing services make faxing easier than ever. So healthcare providers can avoid HIPAA compliance breaches and transfer PHI safely.

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