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Ensuring patient engagement that is HIPAA compliant

The major reason for which there are widespread violations of the HIPAA Rules for communicating with patients by unencrypted email and text message is that healthcare providers and Covered Entities and their Business Associates are ignorant of the rules. Although the HIPAA Rules are pretty straightforward and easy to follow; providers and Business Associates who don’t implement them in accordance with what is required under the law are at great risk and directly liable for breaking them.

Not many are aware that simple items such as an appointment reminder, Happy Birthday wishes, reminders that a patient is overdue for a checkup or has an outstanding balance on a bill, qualify for a PHI by definition, even though no diagnostics-specific information could be contained in them. These are the finer elements of HIPAA rules that Covered Entities and their Business Associates need to be thoroughly aware of.

Knowing how they can maximize the use of key patient communication tools while protecting themselves and their organization from government penalties and patient lawsuits is of crucial importance. It is important for healthcare providers and Business Associates not to land in serious trouble simply because they didn’t follow the HIPAA Rules for unencrypted electronic communication with patients.

The HIPAA Safe Harbor

Healthcare providers have a mandatory “duty to warn” patients about risks associated with unencrypted email. Even after receiving the warning, if a patient refuses to receive unencrypted emails; healthcare providers and Business Associates must strictly follow the patient's restriction.

HIPAA also offers what it calls the HIPAA “safe harbor”, which frees the provider and the Business Associate from being responsible for unauthorized access of a patient's PHI during transmission and for safeguarding PHI delivered to the patient.

Full understanding of how to be HIPAA compliant with patient engagement

A webinar that is being organized by MentorHealth, a leading provider of professional trainings for all the area of healthcare, will offer learning on HIPAA Rules for transmitting informational email and text messages to patients over an electronic communications network.

Paul R. Hales, an expert on HIPAA Privacy, Security, Breach notification and Enforcement Rules with a national HIPAA consulting practice based in St. Louis, and the author of all content in The HIPAA E-Tool, an Internet-based, Software as a Service product for healthcare providers and Business Associates; will be the speaker at this webinar. please register for this webinar. This course is approved for 1 general credit from the Nevada Board of Continuing Legal Education.

At this webinar, Paul will offer detailed explanation of all the areas concerning HIPAA compliant patient engagement. He will explain this topic in the following parts:

  • The information that makes a message subject to HIPAA
  • The “safe harbor” - How healthcare providers may obtain consent from patients to send PHI in unencrypted email and unencrypted text messages and not be responsible for unauthorized access to the PHI in transmission or when received by the patient
  • What a healthcare provider must do if a patient does not agree to receive PHI in unencrypted email or unencrypted text message
  • The requirements for a Business Associate to be able to communicate by email or text message with a patient on behalf of a healthcare provider
  • How a Business Associate may protect itself from liability for violating HIPAA Rules about email and text messages in its Business Associate Agreement
  • What a healthcare provider must do if a patient does not agree to receive PHI in unencrypted emails or text messages
  • How healthcare providers and Business Associates may prove they are compliant with the HIPAA Rules through documentation
  • The Policies and Procedures healthcare providers and Business Associates must have in place to comply with HIPAA Rules concerning communication with patients through email and text message

The following areas will be covered at this webinar:

  • More and more patients like the convenience of email and text message
  • The HIPAA “safe harbor” - how you can communicate with patients in the way they prefer and protect your organization
  • How healthcare providers and Business Associates can work together to avoid violating HIPAA Rules about email and text message communications with patients

This course is of immense value to healthcare providers, dentists, optometrists, physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, hospitals, Business Associates, those in billing, collection, insurance brokerage, patient engagement and marketing companies.

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