It isn’t an exaggeration if one says that every working individual has at least one video calling app on their phone. Taking note of the current situation & otherwise as well to combat the geographical distance nowadays video conferencing applications are preferred by a large portion of the population. Video Conferencing has preferred due to its perks it is useful for many sectors such as
- EDUCATION SECTOR
- BUSINESS GROUPS
- INSURANCE COMPANIES
- HOTEL CHAINS
- MEDICAL INDUSTRY & list goes on
During such pandemic wherein the medical industry is a ray of hope for everyone. Video conferencing is nothing less than a boon for the medical staff, doctors, pharmaceuticals, pathological laboratory & everyone connected with the same industry. They can reach out to patients digitally & can help the patient to combat the situation or diseases.
To exercise this digital advancement the medical organizations have to meet the guidelines of HIPAA, which means they need a video conferencing software for healthcare which complies with the guidelines of HIPAA.
What is HIPAA?
It’s mandatory to develop an understanding of HIPAA so that one can select an appropriate video conferencing software. HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is made to ensure the security of a patient’s private details. Every medical organization & individual connected to it are abided by HIPAA.
The information about an individual that is stored digitally is named Protected Health Information shortly known as PHI.
What Issues Can Arise With Video Conferencing and HIPAA?
It is very common to share details while video conferencing. If the persons involved in video conferencing are sharing any PHI which is secured & meets the regulations of HIPAA then there isn’t a matter of worry. The issue starts when the video conferencing platform doesn’t meet the standards of HIPAA. Many times the beach of HIPAA is done unknowingly.
- Lack of Peer-to-Peer connection: It means lack of end to end encryption if one uses unsecured software or connection while video conferencing there are high chances of HIPAA violation. The medical video conferencing software should be encrypted to keep the PHI secured.
- Sharing PHI with unauthorized individuals: Every coin has two sides thus technological advancement has both advantages & disadvantages. The disadvantage here is that during video conferencing one may copy that data which is meant to be private either by noting it down or recording it or just by taking screenshots, it involves risk.
To overcome all these drawbacks the doctors must use HIPAA Compliant Video Conferencing software. The doctors can follow the mentioned steps to ensure the correct use of the HIPAA Compliant Video Conferencing application.
- Before using the application, an outline should be made regarding the points to be discussed in video conferencing.
- A secure video conferencing platform is a must.
- Only trusted & authorized individuals should be given access to video conferencing.
- It’s important to establish administrative, physical, and technical safeguards.
- Password or two-factor sign-in authorization can enhance security.
- Using HIPAA compliant video conferencing software is cherry on the cake.
- The most important point is to understand the difference between SaaS & SaaP. Software as a Product is preferred over SaaS. SaaP is a software, which is made as per preference of users, and users pay for a license that allows them to use it, in contrast to SaaS, where users buy subscriptions and where the software is centrally hosted. Customization is possible in SaaP.
SaaP can be ideal for highly regulated industries that need to store data behind their firewalls and on their servers. Not only do customers own the product outright, but they also have full ownership of their data within it.
How can Video Conferencing violet HIPAA?
There are 3 majors possibilities which shall be held responsible for violation of HIPAA:
If the video conferencing application doesn’t provide End-to-End encryption, there are chances that the software you are using is not safe to use, as there is always a risk of data being shared unknowingly.
Sharing the details with someone who isn’t authorized to those details is also considered as a breach of HIPAA, for instance during the video conference, if a data is shared & few individuals who are not given access to that particular information may come to know about such pieces of information.
Leaking of minute detail is also part of violation.
So now the question, if one disregards the HIPAA standards, what are the threats or warning factors of video conferencing software for Healthcare?
Many of us have developed a habit of using a particular application just based on a random suggestion by a friend, or some catchy advertisement or just downloading an application without looking out for its drawbacks. If your software has the following indications, consider it a warning sign.
- Lack of Secure Sign-ins: The process of signing in should be simple & user friendly, if it’s – complicated it’s meant to make an error or trace the data. Few applications are designed in such a way that even if a user has not signed in, he can peep into your data
- End-to-End Encryption: It keeps the data safe between the people involved in Video Conferencing & the possibility of data getting traced or revealed reduces to a great extent. No end to end encryption is surely a red alert.
- No BAA provided: One crucial aspect we all miss out while selecting the video conferencing software is BAA, it stands for Business Associate Agreement. It is drafted to make sure that the video conferencing partner is supposed to sign this so that he shall stay equally accountable for regulating HIPAA.
If one doesn’t agree to sign BAA, it surely means they are not willing to maintain the privacy of the data.
A lot of people are using varied Video Conferencing applications be it ZOOM, SKYPE or FACETIME, or be it any other application, the question here is are all these applications following HIPAA guidelines?
For Zoom Users:
It can be considered as a better option as compared to other applications because it provides access controls, authentication measures, and electronic health record-keeping, moreover end to end encryption is also taken care of!
For Skype users:
Skype might be a dicey choice because varied aspects are considered when we talk about regulation of HIPAA, but skype doesn’t meet all of them rather the majority of them. The basic version of skype doesn’t support HIPAA, though Microsoft did agree that the majority of their products are structured in a way that they comply with HIPAA but certainly Skype is a dicey choice.
For FaceTime Users:
It remains under the list of uncategorized because though Apple doesn’t allow users to peep through the database of each other & maintain the security of data which is a good clause but at the same time it doesn’t agree to sign BAA, which is a major drawback. Signing BAA remains crucial irrespective of the fact that other than BAA how the software companies are maintaining data security. As a medical video conferencing software, facetime may not turn up to be an apt choice.
In nutshell, by hook or crook for a medical organization, it’s mandatory to use a medical video conferencing software that shall comply with all the guidelines & clauses laid by HIPAA. Applications like Zoom, Skype, or Facetime fail to comply with one or more guidelines of HIPAA. Wherein MirrorFly offers HIPAA compatible conferencing for healthcare services.
Importance Of Hipaa Compliant Video Conferencing?
- Nowadays, where everyone is aware of HIPAA compliance, most of the healthcare providers have made an exercise in place ensuring HIPAA compliance in all possible areas of their practice.
- Henceforth, to have a better clarity on the entire treatment process, they have utilized the use of new technology solutions via video conferencing consistent with HIPAA rules and regulations to deliver care.
- HIPAA compliance video chat secures patients information against all the risks. Being compliant with physical safeguard and administrative technical of the HIPAA Security Rule, a hipaa compliant video conferencing software service provider ensures the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of PHI.
Some of the basic elements of this compliance involves
- End-to-end Encryption
- Protective connection verification
- Web conferencing via private cloud
- Password protection with control
- High-end security control
Ensuring safety measures, the hipaa video conferencing app also contributes in several benefits including lowered costs and increased convenience and access to care. This tool has also gained more of patient satisfaction with many things where,
- Patients can avoid traveling the distance to visit the doctor.
- Patients with chronic disease who have to visit the doctor more often can now be easily monitored and tracked over their health conditions every moment by the doctor via hipaa compliant teleconferencing apps.
- Patients health improves with better quality of life
Impact of Digital Health in COVID-19
Well, we all have to accept the fact that COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a massive disruption in the healthcare sector, directly as well as indirectly via outbreaking infectious disease and public health measures against transmission.
When it comes to the healthcare system there are many to be addressed during COVID-19 pandemic. It has reduced face-to-face in-person consultation, postponed non-urgent visits like elective surgeries, setting up new infection control measures, etc. These changes have affected the entire health-care resources availability, including existing physical infrastructure and essential supplies.
Moreover, it has raised the manpower in the industry to meet the sudden fluctuations in clinical need. Collectively, the impact of COVID-19 has made a dynamic shift in capacity, demand, and even healthcare related aspects. Thus, they have raised the challenges that provide opportunity for digital health innovation, that can improve the overall situation with regards to less number of healthcare workers, treatment with minimal physical touch points and less time consumption in healthcare premises.
Thus, opening up the pathway for the development of hipaa compliant video application where the doctor can connect with the patient in real time through message, video and voice calling, all these ensuring complete security over PHI. With this secure hipaa compliant video conferencing app the patient can share their medical documents, diagnostic reports, and also show their injury and symptoms directly over the video call, and get the consultation right away. Even this hipaa compliant video conferencing software provides the notification feature with which the doctor can send regular reminders to the patient and have a track over patient’s health management and follow up.
MirrorFly ensures that every clause laid by HIPAA is kept intact & one can use it without compromising over the quality, security & privacy. Hence, when it’s about Video Conferencing solutions for healthcare undoubtedly MirrorFly stands first in the league with cent percent accuracy.