Decoding HIPAA’s Security Rule

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In an earlier article we wanted to know the simple differences between the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the HIPAA Security Rule. (Check it out here if you haven’t seen it yet).

It’s a simple distinction, but what’s not simple is what’s actually in the Security Rule. So if you want to know the important facts of HIPAA’s Security Rule without going crosseyed over their documentation, give this summary a read.

Quick recap: The Security Rule was established to ensure that all Covered Entities have implemented safeguards to protect the confidentiality of ePHI while maintaining its integrity and availability to authorized individuals. This is done through three general safeguards.

We’ve summarized each of those safeguards for you here:

Technical

Physical

Administrative

Choosing a HIPAA-compliant Videoconferencing Platform Is Easy When You Know What to Look For

Telemedicine offers a host of benefits to healthcare providers and their patients alike. Providers are able to treat patients quickly and efficiently; they often achieve better health outcomes, and can offer exceptional care to individuals they might not otherwise be able to reach. Likewise, patients no longer have to miss work or endure the cost to travel, are more likely to keep follow-up appointments, and can generally better manage chronic conditions. The adoption of videoconferencing technologies seems like a win-win, and the next logical step to take in growing your medical practice, but there’s one lingering concern: ensuring HIPAA compliance.

Fortunately, it’s as easy as choosing a HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing platform (Like that offered by SecureVideo).

The right telemedicine platform can afford practitioners the unique ability to diagnose and treat remote patients without sacrificing the security of their personal health information — or, not to mention, the practitioner’s compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). That said, it’s important to understand that not all videoconferencing solutions are created equal. It’s important to do the research, to talk with the providers under consideration, and to select one that meets all the right benchmarks.

The solution must be encrypted.

 What does that mean, an encrypted solution? In a word: protection. The process of encryption scrambles the video packets of data as they travel across the Web, so that data cannot be intercepted and understood until it reaches the video software on the recipient’s device and is then decrypted.

Why is that so important, encryption? A patient sitting in an exam room with his doctor feels secure knowing he and his health information are… secure. An encrypted videoconferencing solution promises patients the same level of protection when receiving medical care remotely.

The videoconferencing solution should leverage peer-to-peer networking.

What does that even mean? The videoconferencing solution you choose for use in your medical practice should leverage a certain type of Internet connection known as a peer-to-peer network. Networks, and connections of this type are the most secure method of transmission since they do not need to run through a server, at which point data streams are most vulnerable to attack.

Again, it’s all about protecting the patient and his health.

It is vitally important that session recording be done in a secure, and HIPAA-compliant manner.

The recording of videoconference sessions creates significant security risks, but also creates a vital history of care. SecureVideo ensures the utmost levels of HIPAA compliance in the storage of session data on the cloud — for the healthcare provider’s benefit as well as the patient’s. (It should be noted: Session data should never, ever be stored within the local files on one’s computer.)

A Business Associate Agreement should be offered.

 Under the guidelines set out by HIPAA for these purposes, the solutions provider (known as the business associate, defined as any entity that will perform activities on behalf of) and the provider must enter into a contract to ensure that all protected health information is safeguarded by all parties. Request, read, and understand the agreement offered, and don’t consider a provider who will not offer one.

Leaps in technology can be intimidating, and maybe even more so when there are privacy and security related laws to consider. But the good news is this: You don’t have to look any farther, because there’s one solution that has it all.

Contact SecureVideo today to discuss your HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing needs, and what we can do to propel your practice into the future of telemedicine

Telemedicine is revolutionizing healthcare for millions of rural Americans.

Have you considered HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing for your medical office?

More and more health systems across the country are making telehealth — specifically HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing systems available to their patients for primary care video visits; is yours among them? Perhaps it should be. But why? And how?

Why are so many American health systems embracing telehealth as a new model of care? And how will doing so affect and improve the operations of your medical office?

The benefits of implementing telehealth solutions are innumerable — for your patients, for your medical practice, and for the good of the public health in general.

Deliver a better experience that will retain and attract patients.

Patients tare — steadily and consistently, incredibly so — pleased with the care they have been able to receive via videoconferencing. Such solutions increase the availability of after-hours care; they reduce wait times, and travel times, and the associated costs therein. This high satisfaction then only leads to be a better overall experience, and a happy patient is a patient who will choose to stay with his doctor. Likewise, telehealth capability may attract new patients beyond the immediate vicinity of your office.

Reduce hospital admission rates.

Hospital readmission rates are high, too high; this is alarming not only for the health of the patient but also because of the cost. Telehealth is a welcome solution to a big problem, as its use can help reduce admission rates by enabling doctors, care managers or pharmacists to see patients over video for follow-up care and care management for chronically ill and post-surgical patients.

Cut costs through more preventative outreach.

As the health insurance industry changes, and more patients are covered under alternative or value-based reimbursement plans, medical professionals are forced to find new ways to manage the needs to their chronically ill patients. Telehealth technologies (such as those videoconferencing solutions offered by SecureVideo) better facilitate convenient ongoing monitoring for those at-risk for hospitalization, keeping patients as healthy and costs as low as possible.

Improve clinical outcomes.

Patients who are afforded the opportunity to become active participants in their own care have significantly better outcomes, and telehealth technologies do just that. Connecting patients directly with their physicians and caregivers improves the individual experience, yes, but also bolsters their levels of compliance with medication and post-discharge instructions, and ultimately leads to a healthier, happier public.

Have you considered implementing a HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing solution?

Consider it. Contact SecureVideo for more information.

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Telemedicine is revolutionizing healthcare for millions of rural Americans.

Telehealth is Changing the Way Rural Americans Receive Medical Care

It sure seems like a hassle to schedule a doctor’s appointment. You have to take the morning off from work; figure out how to get the kids to school at the same time you’re supposed to be in the exam room; drive to the other side of town in morning rush hour traffic. Ugh. But hold on a second.

Imagine if you lived in a rural area, and instead of a 30-minute drive to the doctor, it took you four or more hours to travel to your appointment. Instead of a half-day off work, you would have to take the whole day off; think of the lost wages, and what you’d have to pay a child care provider, and the transportation costs. This is the unfortunate reality for the nearly 80 million Americans who live in rural areas, because though these rural dwellers make up a quarter of the country’s population, only 10 percent of the nation’s physicians live, and work nearby.

But technology has developed a solution; that solution is telemedicine.

Telemedicine is profoundly transforming the ways in which rural Americans receive care; how healthcare professionals provide that care; and in the wake of the Affordable Care Act, the ways in which standards of quality and efficiency are measured.

As the number of telemedical tools available on the market continues to grow, so do the benefits and advantages of a technology destined to most profoundly impact those living in rural America.

Telehealth means better care, and less expensive travel for patients. HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing solutions such as those offered by SecureVideo make it simple and easy for care providers to see and treat patients remotely, from their homes or into satellite offices. Instead of being forced to wait days or weeks for an appointment, care can be given almost immediately with less inconvenience.

Telehealth means patients can more easily access specialty medical services. While primary and specialty care is often difficult to access in lesser-populated communities, this is even more true for behavioral and mental health services. Telehealth and videoconferencing solutions increase crucial access to psychiatric care.

Telehealth builds community, where rural citizens can interact with their urban peers. Doctors help patients — it’s their job — but sometimes what a patient needs isn’t necessarily a health professional, but a curated session with others who are going through, or have gone through a similar situation. Telehealth technologies connect geographic communities and allow for easier dialogue without increasing costs to the healthcare provider.

Telehealth is changing the world of medicine for the better, forever.

Chrome 35 on Windows 8 and 8.1: Issue launching application

UPDATE: As of Chrome Version 35.0.1916.153 m, this issue has been fixed.

If you have a Windows 8 or 8.1 computer, you may have an issue launching our videoconferencing app from Chrome, especially if you have recently updated to Chrome Version 35.0.1916.114. (Not sure what your version is? Try this site: http://whatversion.net/chrome/)

This update has affected Chrome’s ability to launch applications on some Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 computers, because the protocol handling request is not registering within Chrome. (For the technically-curious, you can find the bug report in the Chromium Google Code project.) This doesn’t seem to affect all Windows 8 and 8.1 users, but enough that if you’re having an issue using Chrome, we suggest switching to another browser until the fix is released (which is currently assigned to Version 35.0.1916.150).

However, if you would really like to continue using Chrome, we have some instructions for manually fixing this issue on your computer.

Continue reading “Chrome 35 on Windows 8 and 8.1: Issue launching application” »

Telepsychiatry program reduces hospitalizations, increases access to services

Are you practicing (or curious about) telepsychiatry? The North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research (NCCPPR) has just released their report on North Carolina’s promising, statewide telepsychiatry program, and their recommendations on how both funding and new legislation can ensure the program–and others like it–can succeed. The report provides a good background on telepsychiatry, its potential role and benefits in patient care, and reviews telepsychiatry goals and considerations that will be helpful when evaluating your own program or private practice.

Moreover, it is a very hopeful solution to increasing access to mental health services and improving patient outcomes, making it our favorite type of report. One of the highlights: the length of stay (LOS) in emergency room for patients waiting to be discharged to inpatient treatment at one hospital decreased by more than half, from 48 hours to 22.5 hours.

You can view the report from their website here: Telepsychiatry in North Carolina: Mental Health Care Comes To You.

Edited August 9, 2017 to update link to report.

A close read of the HIPAA Security Rule

HIPAA established the Security Rule to ensure that all covered entities have implemented safeguards to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and access of PHI.

There are two types of implementation specifications: “required” and “addressable.”  Wherever the Security Rule reads “required,” that specification must be implemented; whereas, if it says “addressable,” there is some wiggle room in exactly how you comply with that specific standard.

The HIPAA Security Rule is multifaceted.  For a close read, please check out the article in our Support Center article here.