Use the best HIPAA-compliant fax services to avoid fines and lawsuits

Your medical test results were faxed, not to your doctor but to your workplace.

This mistake cost one healthcare provider hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and lawsuits.

Protecting your patients’ information is important. When you work at a healthcare company, you need a secure fax service that complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). In this article, we’ll look at some compliance issues and solutions.

HIPAA: To protect patients’ privacy and security

In 1996, Congress enacted standards on patient privacy and information security. There are now various incentives and penalties for healthcare providers to expand and enforce HIPAA privacy and security standards. These government regulations are driving higher growth in the online fax market. Why?

Fax is one of the most secure methods to send information. However, it’s not the only HIPAA-compliant way to send information. Other ways to share patient health information include shared portals, cloud platforms, encrypted documents, email, and text message. But whatever method you use, it must protect the integrity of information and guard against unauthorized access.

Even if a fax provider is compliant, it’s still possible to violate HIPAA rules. For example, encrypting your fax would be pointless if you or your staff leave print-outs lying around or enter the wrong fax number. For this reason, no security system is 100-percent secure or unhackable. You need to train staff and add safeguards.

HIPAA laws state that third parties offering a fax service to a healthcare provider must enter a formal contract: a business associate agreement (BAA). A BAA ensures fax providers do their due diligence in terms of privacy and security.

With that in mind, what are some of the best fax services?

Know what to look for in HIPAA faxing

Choosing a fax service can be tricky. Fax providers can differ greatly in price, monthly page caps, and usability.

  • Will you use a fax machine or internet fax? Online fax has many advantages. It can be used across multiple devices, is mobile, produces less waste, is cheaper in terms of paper and ink, and is faster since you don’t have to dial or redial if a line is busy. However, many companies and individuals still prefer regular fax or want to keep their existing fax number.
  • Have other health brands adopted the fax service? Asking for recommendations from fellow healthcare providers is one of the best ways to find compatible products and services.
  • Can you enter a BAA? Some providers will offer a BAA, others will accept one upon request, and many will refuse.
  • How much will it cost? Some services may offer a free version or a free trial period for individuals or small practices.

A few additional questions you might ask include 

  • What are the access and authentication controls? 
  • Does the service have end-to-end encryption? 
  • How will the service integrate with your current software or workflow?
  • Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to select a provider. While we can’t discuss every fax provider, let’s compare two of the most prominent HIPAA-compliant fax services on the market today.

    SR FAX

    • Willing to sign a BAA
    • SSL or PGP encryption
    • 24-7 customer support phone line
    • 200 pages per month (includes incoming and outgoing)
    • Healthcare Lite package starts at $7.95/month (30-day free trial)
    • 20 years focusing on the healthcare industry

    FAXAGE

    • Willing to sign a BAA
    • SSL or PGP encryption
    • 30-day money back guarantee
    • Customer phone support during business hours; 24-7 email support 
    • 300 incoming and 300 outgoing fax pages per month
    • Package starts at $7.95/month

    Both of these fax services, and many others, can meet the needs of most health providers. Your decision will depend upon your organization’s needs.

    Choose wisely to avoid costly HIPAA mistakes

    When considering the best HIPAA-compliant fax services, you need to align your need for efficiency with compliance.

    Faxing solutions can streamline your workflow while keeping your practice compliant. By protecting your patients’ information, you’ll avoid big fines, gain your patients’ trust, and secure the future of your organization.

    Firm believer in personal data privacy in the age of information. Close follower of the new regulations concerning patient confidentiality & HIPAA.

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