Secure HIPAA Compliant Fax Service for Healthcare
Since 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule has been protecting patients’ personal information and giving them greater control over who has access to their medical records. For medical professionals, the rule has far-reaching implications. It governs how information about patients is collected, stored and even how it is shared with other medical professionals, as well as insurance companies and other parties. Sending sensitive patient information isn’t quite as simple as shooting an email; instead, medical professionals and clinics must make sure that their methods of sharing this information are secure.
This means that emails sent by medical outlets must be secure. When medical professionals call a patient, they need to have a plan in place to check that they are truly speaking to their patient, or they need to have permission to talk to a family member or care provider.
But what about sending patient information via fax?
Just as with phone or email communication, HIPAA-compliant faxing focuses on ensuring that information is being shared to the right source and that it’s being shared securely. Faxing can be a convenient way to send patient files, lab results and more — but only if you do so in a HIPAA-complaint way. Keep reading to learn the HIPAA rules surrounding faxing, what you need to know to send a secure fax and how to choose the best HIPAA-compliant online fax service.
What are HIPAA Fax Rules?
The HIPAA Privacy Rule covers all forms of communication. This includes written communications, phone, email and fax communications.
So how does HIPAA faxing relate to security? HIPAA rules surrounding faxing largely focus on ensuring that the fax is being sent to the correct location and that it is protected if it winds up in the wrong hands.
In addition to taking precautions to make sure that the fax goes to the right place, healthcare offices also need to take one extra step in case the fax does wind up in the wrong hands. A HIPAA compliant fax cover sheet does not contain sensitive patient information and does include information about who the fax should be going to. That way, if someone else receives it, they can send it to the correct location.
Sending a HIPAA-Compliant Fax
Let’s take a closer look at what it means to send a HIPAA-compliant fax on a traditional machine or using an online fax service.
Say that a medical testing lab wants to send a patient’s test results to their primary care physician. HIPAA rules require that the lab take precautions to ensure that the faxed results go to the correct fax number. How they go about putting safeguards in place can vary. The lab may choose to verify that they are using the correct fax number each time. This may mean having a lab technician or other employee contact the office of the primary care physician that the fax needs to be sent to confirm the number.
However, if that lab frequently faxes records to that physician’s clinic, this may be too time-consuming. Instead, they could choose to pre-program frequently used numbers into their fax machine or online fax system. This pre-program system acts as a safeguard that decreases the risk of a fax being sent to the wrong location. Before they hit send on the fax, healthcare offices also need to attach a HIPAA complaint cover sheet that clarifies the intended recipient. This is designed to deter someone else from looking at the information. However, this method isn’t foolproof when using a traditional fax machine.
The best HIPAA-compliant online fax service is one that simplifies the process of sending secure faxes. It allows the healthcare office to ensure that they are meeting privacy rules without increasing their employee workload by making choosing a recipient easy. Also, it allows the office to quickly create HIPAA compliant cover sheets, even though these cover sheets are less necessary with online faxes, as the fax is sent directly to the recipient’s inbox.
Is Regular Fax HIPAA Compliant?
Any fax can be made to be HIPAA compliant. However, it’s likely that the standard faxes sent by most offices are not.
To make your fax HIPAA compliant, you need to be able to show that you’ve taken precautions to make sure that it is going to the right location. If you’re using an online fax service, your service will need to be encrypted. In addition to a secure faxing solution, you’ll also need a HIPAA-compliant fax cover sheet.
So do you need a HIPAA-compliant fax machine? Not necessarily. However, traditional fax machines make it easy to make mistakes when entering the fax number of your recipient. Faxes may also sit on the machine of the recipient for some time. Anyone walking by can pick up the fax, breaking HIPAA rules and exposing patient information.
Are Online Fax Services HIPAA Compliant?
If your healthcare office is still relying on a traditional fax machine, you could be putting your patients’ sensitive information at risk—and your office at risk of a lawsuit for breaking HIPAA privacy rules. You may ask: “So how do I get a HIPAA compliant fax machine?” The answer may be to skip the machine altogether and make the move to online faxing. Not only can this make it easier to ensure compliance, but it’s also the cheapest HIPAA-compliant fax service available today because you won’t need to worry about investing in a machine or the maintenance that goes with it.
But is online fax HIPAA compliant? Much like traditional fax machines, this depends on the specific online fax service that you choose, and how you use it. Modern online fax solutions make it easier to meet—or exceed—HIPAA privacy rules. Your faxes go directly to the recipient’s email inbox. With the best online fax service for medical practices, you can send encrypted faxes, quickly check that they are going to the right recipient, and attach a HIPAA-compliant cover sheet. Because your fax goes directly to the recipient’s inbox, you won’t have to worry about the wrong eyes landing on your fax.
Is HIPAA Faxing Safe for Highly-Sensitive Documents?
Is fax secure for sensitive data? This depends on the type of fax you use and the precautions you take when sending your fax. If you’re meeting the necessary HIPAA requirements for encrypted file sharing, and your faxing solution is secure, then faxing is a safe, effective and fast way to send and receive even highly sensitive documents.
However, if you’re still using a traditional fax machine or are using an online fax service that isn’t secured, you should avoid sending sensitive documents. These could wind up in the wrong hands, exposing your patient’s information and putting your healthcare office at risk of a lawsuit for failing to protect your patients.
Is the eFax Online Fax Service HIPAA-Compliant?
Introducing eFax Protect, a highly encrypted secure online fax solution that allows heavily regulated industries to gain HIPAA Compliance with signed Business Associate Agreements (BAAs) for enhanced protection of their sensitive data. By utilizing signed BAAs, eFax Protect helps you maintain the confidentiality and integrity of data, while encryption protocols safeguard unauthorized access during transmission.
Healthcare professionals depend on fax everyday to send and receive documents. eFax Protect ensures they have the security and compliance they need when faxing medical documents from our iOS and Android mobile apps, our eFax Messenger tool, and our MyPortal web app.
✔ Enhance the security of your fax communications and maintain compliance with applicable requirements under HIPAA, GLBA and SOX.
✔ Utilize AES 256-bit encryption to ensure data remains secure and protected from unauthorized access during transmission.
✔Audit Trails provide tracking and monitor fax activities to ensure transparency and accountability.
Is a Cloud Fax HIPAA Secure and Reliable?
Not only is the eFax Protect online faxing solution an easy way to meet HIPAA privacy rules, but it’s also secure and reliable. eFax Protect utilizes encryption protocols so you can transmit documents safely while ensuring that the privacy of your sensitive information remains confidential and protected from unauthorized access during transmission.
While not all email to fax is HIPAA compliant, eFax Protect is. Whether you’re still using a traditional fax machine or have made the move to online faxing, you need a solution that goes above HIPAA compliance with secure, reliable cloud faxing.
Is There a Cloud Faxing Solution for Healthcare Providers?
If you’ve been on the hunt for a HIPAA-compliant fax solution for iPhone, Android, or for use on your desktop, eFax Protect is the solution. Our safe and secure cloud faxing solution allows healthcare offices of all shapes and sizes to send patient information, records, test results and more with ease. Add a HIPAA compliant fax cover sheet, choose your recipient and send your fax directly to the recipient without worrying about it landing in the wrong hands.
If you’re a healthcare provider looking to protect your patients’ sensitive information and meet the HIPAA Privacy Rules, we can help. Start your free trial with one of the best HIPAA-compliant digital online fax solutions available today!