Healthcare institutions are increasingly looking for technological solutions to help them improve the patient experience. However, they still have to stay compliant with the most important data privacy regulation in the healthcare industry, HIPAA.
Since live chat has become the new standard of patient communication, companies are investing in HIPAA-compliant chats. They ensure adherence to the strict data privacy rules while facilitating communication between healthcare-related businesses and patients.
In this article, we are taking a deep dive into HIPAA-compliant chat. What is it, why should you look for it, what are its most prominent features, and what are some of the best HIPAA-compliant chats on the market today?
What is a HIPAA-compliant chat?
HIPAA is the acronym for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It was signed into law in 1996 and it regulates the way PHI (Protected Health Information) is handled.
In simpler terms, HIPAA lays out three clusters of rules:
- The privacy rule: describes how organizations can share and use PHI and defines patients’ rights over their PHI.
- The security rule: refers to the ways to protect PHI - administrative, physical, and technological safeguards, employee training, etc.
- The breach notification rule: defines the notification procedure upon a breach and alerting the affected parties.
Therefore, HIPAA-compliant chat is a live or in-app chat set up to respect all HIPAA guidelines. Organizations such as healthcare providers, insurance companies, and Health Tech providers are using HIPAA-compliant chat to connect with their patients more easily while ensuring high standards of data privacy and protection.
Why should you look for a HIPAA-compliant chat?
We could go on and on about the benefits of using a HIPAA-compliant chat for your healthcare-related business. If your organization is a Health Tech business, an insurance company, or a healthcare provider - you know how important it is to secure your patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI).
However, giving your patients the best possible experience is a must if you want to keep your business flourishing. Patient communication is a crucial aspect of the services you offer. In fact, we are seeing more and more businesses using HIPAA-compliant chats as focal points in healthcare communication.
In the consumer communication, instant messaging is replacing the traditional ways of communication like phone calls and emails. It’s no different in businesses: more and more businesses in all industries are offering customer support via different social media and instant messaging channels.
To stay in line with business trends, healthcare-related businesses want to exploit consumer communication best practices, but they are also subject to complex regulations such as HIPAA. Take a deep dive into three main reasons your business should integrate a HIPAA-compliant chat.
1. Live chat is the new norm of patient communication.
Accenture’s research shows that more and more patients choose medical providers who offer digital capabilities. Specifically, 68% of consumers will choose healthcare providers that offer to book, change, and cancel appointments online.
Also, patients want to receive email or text reminders for follow-up care and they want to communicate with their healthcare providers online. In other words, patients are used to smart apps and tech in their daily lives: and they expect the same smart solutions from their healthcare providers.
Younger patients are especially prone to engage in chat communication with healthcare-related businesses. In fact, research shows that, with 41% of consumers preferring it, live chat is a favorite customer support channel of all.
HIPAA-compliant chat is therefore a tool that helps you cater to your younger audience and patients. Live chat presents a natural way for them to get in touch with you. Benefits such as self-service, FAQs, and integrations with other healthcare-related apps allow patients to quickly resolve their issues. There are also multiple benefits of HIPAA-compliant chat for the organizations that provide it.
2. HIPAA breaches are expensive in more ways than one.
Let’s talk numbers: HIPAA violations are expensive. Depending on the level of negligence, businesses can pay from $100 to $50,000 per violation. The average cost of a data breach in the healthcare industry was a staggering $9.2 million in 2021.
HIPAA breaches are not only costly in a literal sense. When a business is charged with a HIPAA violation, it’s reputation is compromised. In the long run, patients might be hesitant to cooperate with a business that doesn’t comply with HIPAA or other regulations.
As a matter of fact, 53% of consumers say they will stop doing business with companies that compromise on data security. You don’t want to risk losing your patients.
Therefore, the only way to enable patient communication best practices and protect your business is to use a HIPAA-compliant chat.
3. HIPAA-compliant chat improves operational efficiency
Chat solutions in healthcare are beneficial for improving operational efficiency. By automating key touchpoints, healthcare-related businesses can engage patients along their journey.
Moreover, benefits such as providing answers to FAQs, reducing phone use, improving provider collaboration, and others lead to decreased costs for healthcare providers. In simpler terms, HIPAA-compliant chat allows you to work smarter - not harder.
Find out more about HIPAA-compliant tools:
➡️ What are the 5 ways to make your software HIPAA compliant?
➡️ What are the 10 best HIPAA compliant messaging tools?
What to look for in a HIPAA-compliant chat?
Every HIPAA-compliant chat solution should support end-to-end encryption. It is a standard messaging security protocol. When messages are encrypted, they cannot be accessed even if they’re intercepted. The only two parties that can see the message are the ones holding the keys - the sender and the receiver.
📘 Take a look at our list of best encrypted messaging apps.
When acquiring a HIPAA-compliant chat, you need to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with your tech provider. To be sure you’re fully HIPAA compliant, your tech suppliers must adhere to the same policies and obligations as you do to secure your data.
According to HIPAA, parties that handle and exchange PHI should only see the “minimum necessary” information to perform their duties.
This means that your HIPAA-compliant chat should entail robust admin controls. Solution admins should be able to set up various levels of access to PHI according to employees’ roles and the intended use.
Moreover, authentication protocols such as 2-factor authentication and Single Sign On should be enforced to make sure that the employees’ user profiles don’t get exploited.
High physical data storage security
Every HIPAA-compliant solution, including a HIPAA-compliant chat, should ensure a high level of physical security for data storage. Here are some of the most popular HIPAA-compliant cloud storage services:
- Google Cloud Storage
- Dropbox Business
- MS OneDrive
- Amazon Web Services
The term “data sovereignty” refers to having full control over your data. Most companies that want to have full data sovereignty opt for self-hosted solutions. That means that their users/patients’ data never leaves their premises, making it much harder for breaches to happen.
However, HIPAA also states that PHI should never leave the US. Therefore, if you’re looking for a HIPAA-compliant chat, don’t consider solutions with non-US-based data centers.
Keep your patient data protected with Rocket.Chat’s HIPAA-ready chat
Rocket.Chat is an open source, HIPAA-ready chat. By employing data protection methods such as end-to-end encryption, self-hosted deployment, SAML/SSO and others, Rocket.Chat customers can be confident that their data is protected.
Rocket.Chat allows you to connect to your patients in a secure way. Our microservices architecture supports users to connect to patients, colleagues, and vendors - regardless of the communication solution they use.