Email encryption helps secure HIPAA violations caused by intruders and invaders. Intrusions and hacking is a big problem globally. Not only the amateurs but also even the trained ones can accidentally fill in the wrong address or attach the wrong file. Things go wrong in a minute when without noticing that it may have carried PHI in it.
HIPAA email establishes norms and standards for the covered entities so that they regulate controls, audit controls, integrity controls, ID authentication, and transmission security have to be fulfilled in order to:
· Restrict access to PHI
· Monitor how PHI is communicated
· Ensure the integrity of PHI at rest
· Ensure 100% message accountability, and
· Protect PHI from unauthorized access during transit
HIPAA email rules do not restrict just to cover encryption.
There are some other features such as the setting of an audit trail and preventing the improper modification of PHI – are difficult to resolve. Therefore, even if the emails are HIPAA compliant, it demands important technological resources and constant regulation to ascertain that the PHI is being transferred to authentic and reliable resources and individuals. Also, it requires that the policies are in place and the communication regarding PHI is HIPPA compliant.
HIPAA email rules are pretty easy and clear to comply with. They just require any sort of communication to be secure and protected if it contains ePHI and are beings sent to different organization or individuals that are outside the protected network.
Encryption in HIPAA compliance for emails prevents the content of the message being read while intercepting of the same. It makes the whole process of disclosure of data very difficult and almost impermissible.
Encryption is something that cannot be neglected even if it is not required. Incase covered entities consider not to choose encryption, they should come up with some other alternative to safeguard the data in transit.
It is the jurisdiction of the covered entity to decide whether encryption is needed or not. This can be decided based on the level of risk involved. Risk assessment helps the covered entity to determine the intrusion in the privacy of ePHI via emails.
To sum it all, HIPAA privacy and security rules deal with securing ePHI that is communicated via emails. All the communication should be secure and the patients be warned of sharing the information via mails which contains sensitive details.The OCR also interprets the HIPAA Security Rule to apply to email communications.