The needs of healthcare businesses are evolving, especially now, with an increasingly remote workforce and customers relying on online services to manage everything from receiving lab results to managing their prescription refills.

Technologies like cloud storage, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and VoIP can provide the ability for team members to collaborate from anywhere. Your business can improve productivity and effectiveness with the right solutions, allowing your teams to share knowledge while streamlining your processes and modernizing access to information. 

You may be considering upgrading or implementing new technology solutions to meet these changes, but are encountering roadblocks because these solutions aren’t compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) right out of the box. 

Employing a firm with experience with implementing these services while remaining HIPAA compliant will make all of the difference in streamlining your services and ensuring the security of your customers’ data, providing a seamless transition.

The importance of HIPAA in a data-driven world

HIPAA requires that a business in the healthcare industry,  or “Covered Entity”, abide by government regulations to protect the privacy and security of individual Personal Health Information (PHI). These national security standards apply industry-wide ensuring that every company voluntarily complies with the privacy and security rules or face criminal charges and civil monetary penalties.

A Covered Entity is a health care provider or a health plan that creates, maintains or transmits Personal Health Information. Employers themselves are not generally considered Covered Entities unless they provide a self-insured health plan or benefits such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). In these cases any unauthorized disclosure of PHI may be considered a breach of HIPAA.

The onus is on businesses to ensure that technical, physical and administrative safeguards are in place and followed in order to protect the integrity of all PHI, and that company-wide risk assessments and HIPAA-related policies are created and adhered to. 

This creates a burden on businesses and some may be unsure of their obligation to comply with the HIPAA requirements. If that’s the case, you should seek professional advice.

Most technology solutions aren’t HIPAA compliant out of the box

In 2019 alone, 34.9 million Americans had their Personal Health Information (PHI) compromised, representing 10% of the American population, with network server breaches and email breaches accounting for half of all of the reported incidents.

You may already be using a CRM or data-entry solution such as GSuite, Salesforce or MS Office 365. It’s important to know that these do not ship as HIPAA compliant and it is easy to miss implementing necessary, vital security features when following an online “how-to” guide for HIPAA compliance, which is how these types of data breaches often occur.

G Suite, Google’s advanced cloud-based productivity suite, allows organizations to cut down on paperwork by providing an intuitive, easy-to-use platform that allows team members to securely work from anywhere, on any device. It seamlessly integrates with other solutions, including your preferred accounting software and CRM software. This flexibility provides real-time collaboration; saving time and unifying your workforce.

G Suite also provides Admin Console, an enterprise-level security console that, when properly deployed, provides an effective way to detect and prevent internal and external data leaks, phishing scams, and malware attacks. It also allows administrators to lock compromised accounts and enforce password strength guidelines and 2-Step Verification.

Scalable, cloud-based RingCentral for VoIP provides virtual phone services that include features such as online meetings, SMS, team messaging, and advanced call management features to assist your organization by providing seamless communication. 

Security features include high-level encryption to protect VoIP phone calls, multi-factor authentication and single-sign-on for account protection, and advanced account management and administration.

Zoho CRM  offers a simple, straightforward interface that allows you to bring together your sales, marketing, and customer support teams by streamlining your processes and team members in one easy-to-use platform. The fully extensible developer platform allows integration of third-party systems and applications so you can continue to use existing services or migrate to new ones smoothly.

Zoho CRM is ISO certified and SOC 2 Type II compliant in Security, Confidentiality, Processing Integrity, Availability and Privacy. 

When considering HIPAA compliance it’s important to know that third party software providers fall under the category of “Business Associate”. BA’s are persons or businesses that provide any services to Covered Entities that involve having access to the PHI they maintain. IT contractors, cloud storage services and email encryption services are all considered Business Associates and, before having access to PHI, must sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with the Covered Entity which ensures that the BA has the same HIPAA compliance obligations as the Covered Entity.

RingCentral and Zoho CRM are both configurable to be HIPAA-compliant and both have Business Associate Agreements available.

Seamless integration and risk-minimization are the hallmarks of experience

ion8 has an experienced technology team familiar with all current technology solutions and can make your existing software HIPAA compliant as well, be that MS Office 365, Salesforce, etc. We want to ensure that your data remains secure.

We know that companies in the medical sector don’t have time to be fussing with technology solutions. They’re generally busy saving lives and providing necessary healthcare, with technology taking a backseat even when practitioners understand that making improvements will make their practice more efficient. 

Choosing a HIPAA compliant solution is another roadblock to upgrading. Healthcare businesses tend to hang on to legacy solutions much longer than they should because they are already HIPAA compliant. Many are still using fax machines and other analog technology to communicate when they could be using cloud-based encrypted file transmission, secure VoIP phones and other integrated data-management solutions that will keep your users’ PHI more secure.

The team at ion8 knows how to ensure all of your technology solutions are HIPAA compliant. HIPAA is wide-reaching and it pays to go with a team that understands it inside and out. We have a full roster of technology and security experts who can seamlessly implement and integrate intelligent solutions like GSuite, RingCentral and Zoho CRM to maximize productivity and ensure your data remains secure. For more information, contact us today.