Cloud fax and HIPAA. What every healthcare professional should know.

Posted: Jan 27, 2014
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In the last three years there has been a momentous shift across companies, large and small, towards the cloud as an indispensable component of everyday business. And the healthcare industry is no exception, as confirmed by the ‘2013 State of the Cloud Report’ by CDW, a leading provider of technology products and services for business, government and education.

As demonstrated by the report, those in the healthcare industry who are migrating or have migrated are doing so for a variety of reasons. However the majority invest in cloud services in order to resolve everyday business function issues such as:

– Conferencing and collaboration, 29%
– Computer power, 26%
– Office productivity and sales, 22%

Whilst the uptake is still relatively low in the healthcare industry, integration of cloud services into the day-to-day running of organizations is increasing. However for some the idea of converting to the cloud can be unnerving, particularly in the healthcare industry, due to the myriad of regulations and policies that healthcare businesses are required to adhere to.

The primary cause for concern for healthcare professionals, as revealed by CDW, is the security of Protected Health Information (PHI), with 51% of the study respondents noting it as an impeding factor. Concerns with performance (36% of respondents) and the technical aspects of integrating cloud applications with legacy systems (31% of respondents) also featured highly when surveying the biggest impeding factors to cloud services.

However there is a reliable solution – cloud fax – which not only improves everyday business functions, but offers top level security for data and a powerful, flexible and easy-to-use method of collaboration between individuals, including the transfer of PHI. It is crucial that professionals choose a cloud fax provider that meets or exceeds the requirements of the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

HIPAA compliant cloud fax providers under the HIPAA Privacy Rule are Business Associates (BA) and as such must comply with regulations surrounding the creation, adaptation, maintenance and transfer of PHI. Therefore choosing a supplier that can conduct a business associate agreement (BAA) to determine the use and disclosure of PHI through its services will ensure that the business is compliant.

For healthcare professionals, cloud fax can be hugely beneficial as providers invest in the safeguarding of PHI and place priority on the security, accessibility and reliability of their service. As Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) becomes more prominent amongst healthcare professionals, Software as a Service (SaaS) providers, such as Sfax, allow prominence to be placed on the execution of healthcare services as opposed to the constraints of operating systems.

In a considerable number of healthcare professions the need to efficiently and securely manage PHI on-the-go is vital. Introducing a cloud fax provider into the workflow can help individuals quickly procure a HIPAA-compliant level of data protection that otherwise may have been unfeasible.

In all cases it is essential that healthcare professionals thoroughly research cloud fax providers before entrusting them with PHI. For more information on HIPAA compliant faxing that works read the Sfax HIPAA fact sheet.