Are Free Telehealth Platforms HIPAA Approved?

Wondering if free telehealth platforms are HIPAA approved? Read Healthie's tips to find a free telehealth platform that is safe and secure.

Telehealth took the healthcare industry by storm at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. And for good reason: through video calls and messages, patients can now receive high quality healthcare without even needing to leave the house. Due to its convenience and flexibility, it looks like telehealth is here to stay. This means that, as a modern healthcare provider, finding a high quality and HIPAA approved secure telehealth platform to offer these services through is vital for your business’s success. 

Many healthcare entrepreneurs start their practice with a free or low-cost telehealth platform and telemedicine app. If you’re in this position, you might be concerned that the software you’re using doesn’t have adequate safeguards in place for keeping your clients’ data secure. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. In this post, we have a few tips to help you find a free telehealth platform that’s safe, secure, and ensures total HIPAA approval .

Why is HIPAA approved telehealth important?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, more commonly known as HIPAA, was introduced in 1996 as a way to keep people’s health information confidential. For healthcare providers, there are two main aspects of HIPAA to think about: the privacy rule, and the security rule. The privacy rule indicates which type of data needs to be protected, and the security rule outlines what organizations need to do to keep this data secure.

HIPAA laws apply whether you meet with your patients in person or online. Electronic files, videos, and images all need to be treated with the exact same care as physical documents. Common means of telecommunication, such as FaceTime, Skype, messenger, and SMS, are not encrypted, which means that they’re not suitable for telehealth. To meet all your responsibilities as a healthcare provider, you should make sure you use a secure telehealth platform that guarantees complete HIPAA compliance and approval.

How do you know if your platform is HIPAA approved?

If you’re considering using a free telehealth platform or free telemedicine app, make sure you check what security and privacy strategies they use. This information should be readily available on their website. It’s vital that the provider takes steps to ensure that only authorized users have access to confidential health information. 

Safeguards used by telehealth platforms to ensure HIPAA approval might include:

  • Administrative safeguards, such as login monitoring and password management.
  • Physical safeguards, including data backup and storage on secure servers.
  • Access control safeguards, such as automatic logoff. 

When you sign up with any reputable telehealth provider, you’ll also sign a Business Associate Agreement with them. This contract outlines how the telehealth platform protects your clients’ personal health information, and the “uses and disclosures of the protected health information by the business associate.” Make sure you read this contract carefully and go over it with your lawyer before signing. 

How does Healthie maintain HIPAA approval?

Healthie makes it easy for healthcare providers to offer secure and confidential telehealth services to their patients. We don’t believe that you should have to pay for expensive software to be HIPAA approved. So, whether you’re using the free version or any of our paid plans, we always make sure that your clients’ data is protected to the highest degree.

Healthie maintains security with:

  • Secure servers. We use servers housed in facilities that are protected 24/7 by biometric security, surveillance systems, and security guards.
  • Encryption. Our data is encrypted with 256-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology, which applies whether you’re on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone. We use cryptographic keys to authenticate data transfer. All video calls are end-to-end encrypted, to ensure the highest level of security.
  • Up-to-date security standards. We monitor state and federal HIPAA rules to ensure HIPAA approval  is current. At the moment, we use standard transactional CPT and ICD-10 codes, which are based on current databases and monitored for updates. 
  • Secure payment processing. When we process credit card transactions, we use secure encryption on a Level 1 PCI-compliant network. All payment information is tokenized and encrypted, and we don’t store it.
  • Self-testing. We regularly run tests on our own software: we scan our ports, test for SQL injection, and block cross-site scripting to ensure that all our security measures are working as they should be.
  • Third party auditing. We are regularly audited by third party penetration testers to ensure we’re meeting compliance standards. 

Through Healthie, you can host webinars, group or one-on-one telehealth sessions, message your clients on desktop or through our free telemedicine app and more - all while feeling confident that you’re meeting your legal obligations as a healthcare provider. 

Try it for yourself - sign up for our free plan today.

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