Legal Guide

Why You Need a HIPAA Fax Guide

Anyone working in the medical industry knows the importance of patient privacy. Patients share sensitive information with their doctors, and they don't want it shared with outside sources. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), healthcare providers must get a patient's consent before disclosing protected health information (PHI). HIPAA rules also state how providers can share PHI with other medical entities.

Faxing remains one of the common ways to transmit PHI. However, every fax must be HIPAA compliant. Every facility should train personnel on the proper way to fax PHI. Here are the benefits of having a detailed HIPAA fax guide.

1. Prevent Privacy Violations

Faxing is a convenient way to transmit data in real time. Most faxes take under a minute to send, but anyone can grab them off the machine. Since only the intended recipient should see the medical records, a fax guide will remind providers not to leave any PHI unattended. Medical professionals should always confirm receipt immediately after faxing. Although simple, these guidelines keep PHI out of the wrong hands and prevent unwanted fines or lawsuits. Having a guide on file will ensure all employees the right way to fax patient data.

2. Ensure Proper Encryption

Standard fax machines send messages over unencrypted servers, and certain VoIP services are not secure. While this is fine for some industries, it violates HIPAA standards. Any PHI faxes should travel over a compliant cloud-based network. Further, fax services shouldn't store private data to prevent privacy breaches. That's why choosing the most reliable encryption method is critical. A step-by-step guide teaches facilities the best way to encrypt every message.

3. Create Complaint Cover Sheet

Any fax containing PHI must have a cover sheet. This sheet protects the privacy of electronically-transmitted data. It doesn't need to look fancy, but the cover sheet must include the HIPAA fax disclaimer. This statement identifies that the fax contains PHI and explains what a person should do if they received it unintentionally. A guide can provide clear instructions on how to design a compliant cover sheet.

4. Keep an Accurate Paper Trail

HIPAA audits are a real concern for medical providers. They can occur at any time and without warning. During an audit, a government official will scour through patient documents looking for any compliance issues. Non-compliant facilities can expect to receive hefty fines. Having an activity trail for each record is vital. Manual recordkeeping is tedious and leaves more room for errors. It's better to switch to cloud faxing for automatic tracking. A fax guide will explain the best way to do this.

5. Gain Patient Trust

Patients trust doctors with extremely intimate details about themselves. They also assume anything said during an appointment will remain private. It's up to the facility to guarantee they will only share information with the patient's consent. All providers should follow administrative, physical, and technical guidelines to stay HIPAA-compliant and gain patient trust. These include finding a safe, secure way to fax documents. That's why providers should never underestimate the value of a faxing guide.

Stay Compliant with Every Fax

Sending and receiving faxes is an everyday occurrence in the medical industry. However, any fax that contains PHI must abide by HIPAA regulations. Failure to do so will cost a facility dearly. Following a guide will ensure every transmission is compliant. Staying current with new faxing technology and compliance updates will give both providers and patients much-needed peace of mind.

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