Do you regularly send faxes to medical companies, healthcare facilities, and medical professionals? If you want to know the essentials and best practices on HIPAA compliance in faxing, then carry on. You need to know that you are considered a covered entity under HIPAA regulations if you are a healthcare provider, health plan provider, healthcare clearinghouse, or business associate.
That said, the employees must be aware and well-trained on privacy and security policies, or else they can face penalties of up to $50,000 per violation. Before sending any faxes, make sure that your employees have been briefed on the following: who has access to their health records, what they should do when encountering inappropriate content, where documents are being sent outside of the company for processing.
What is HIPAA Compliance Faxing?
HIPAA compliance faxing is the proper handling of the patients’ health information (PHI) according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 when sending and receiving faxes to the intended recipients. HIPAA is a federal law created to protect sensitive information from being disclosed without the patients’ consent or knowledge.
Being a HIPAA compliant company, entity, or individual is beyond the perimeters of faxing as any communication, whether the information is sent via email, mail, phone call, SMS, video calls are covered as well. In short, when you send documents with PHI in electronic or printed format, you must follow the policies about proper handling to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of what comes in and goes out of the company and among the employees’ faxing activities.
How Does HIPAA Compliance Work?
You can follow best practices so your company and employees are HIPAA compliance faxing in your business operations. While HIPAA regulations don’t have concrete guidelines on compliance, presented stipulations can give you a framework for adequately sharing information. The following are some of the things you can do.
- Work with a compliance team – some companies and organizations have a compliance team for consistently checking and auditing potential violations internally. Having this department will likely lessen the risks of breaching the protocols when sending and receiving faxes if you have many employees.
- Prepare guidelines for fax machine use and transmissions – If the company or organization is still using a legacy fax machine, it’s best to set the appropriate procedures for fax transmissions. As most fax machines are shared by department or among employees, every employee must know the dos and don’ts. There must be a designated room for faxing, and it shouldn’t be accessible by the public.
- Use a HIPAA compliant online fax service – you may explore digital faxing or online faxing services equipped with HIPAA compliant features. You can send and receive faxes online without a fax machine and assign your team members their fax numbers. Additionally, using an online fax service is more cost-efficient than the traditional fax machines as you won’t be paying for maintenance costs like ink or toner replacements and repairs.
- Conduct regular audit trails – keep a record of all the fax transmissions – incoming and outgoing – with audit logs in all your network, including internal communications of employees, contractors, vendors, and other medical organizations. If you’re using cloud faxing, this could be more advantageous for the company because you can track all the activities in the cloud.
What Are the Benefits of Using a HIPAA Compliant Faxing Service Like iFax?
First of all, when you are HIPAA compliant, you will spare your company and your team from paying fines that range from $100 to $50,000. If you’re going to use an online fax service that has HIPAA-compliant software or a platform like iFax, you would have regrets when it comes to the services and features you would access. Here are some of the benefits you get:
- Efficient tracking of incoming and outgoing faxes – you can easily track all faxes in your dashboard on iFax and manage all contacts in a few clicks and taps. Tracking is much easier because delivery reports or transmission receipts are stored in the iFax cloud. Each user has access to the reports and has complete control of them with options of saving, keeping, or deleting them.
- Use of HIPAA fax cover sheets and disclaimers – iFax has designed HIPAA compliant fax cover sheets that are automatically available whenever you send a fax online. All you need to do is fill in the details, including the sender and recipient’s name and the organization, email address, patient’s case number, and comments with essential instructions.
- Offers convenience and accessibility – the iFax platform is available on iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac devices, making it more convenient for users to download the app on their preferred devices to send faxes quickly. Your teams are not limited to a fax machine at your office. But instead, they can stay productive anywhere using their mobile devices.
Being a HIPAA compliant company, organization, or healthcare professional doesn’t need to be cumbersome. There are best practices you can always follow whenever you fax online or with a fax machine. What matters is that you must be aware of the federal laws and always conduct regular audit trails for all the incoming and outgoing communications and fax transmissions related to sending and receiving documents with PHI.
If you want to streamline your fax transmission, download iFax for free and explore the features in the Plus and Professional plans. Get a 7-day free trial without commitment and give it a try and let us know how it works on your end.