In order for a communications platform to be considered HIPAA compliant, it must fulfill the following requirements:
- Employ end-to-end encryption
- Implement access control
- Enable audit controls
- Sign a business associate agreement (BAA)
Recommended: Zoom® is a HIPAA compliant telehealth software
WhatsApp® provides end-to-end encryption, but that does not mean that it is HIPAA compliant. There are other facets of HIPAA that must be satisfied before the software can be deemed compliant.
- Since WhatsApp® does not require users to enter a password for every session, it does not provide the required access controls.
- Because messages and attachments are easily deleted from Whatsapp®, audits cannot be conducted, which is necessary for HIPAA compliance.
- WhatsApp® lacks the controls to make sure all communications that contain ePHI (electronic personal health information) are completely deleted remotely once an employee leaves the employment of a Covered Entity.
- WhatsApp® has not agreed to sign a BAA with a covered entity.
WhatsApp® is NOT a HIPAA compliant telemedicine software and should not be used to share ePHI or deliver online healthcare since doing so would violate HIPAA regulations. Healthcare professionals may use WhatsApp® for general communication or for providing de-identified PHI.
Recommended: Skype™ is a HIPAA compliant telehealth software
If healthcare professionals would like to leverage a HIPAA compliant video communication tool, some companies have already stated that they will enter into a HIPAA business associate agreement and follow HIPAA compliance regulations. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has provided a list of HIPAA compliant telemedicine software:
- Skype for Business™
- Google Hangouts™
- Zoom for Healthcare®
- Cisco® Webex Meetings / Webex Teams
- Amazon Chime™
- Spruce Health Care Messenger™
- Bridge Video Visits, powered by Zoom for Healthcare®
In order to implement a HIPAA compliant telemedicine software, patients should also be required to complete necessary patient consent forms and agreements. Commonly used consent forms and agreements for online patient portal and telehealth platforms, include:
Bridge Patient Portal provides an all-in-one patient engagement software that is highly customizable, meeting some of the most complex needs of high volume, multi-specialty healthcare organizations including HIPAA compliant messaging.
DISCLAIMER: All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Bridge Patient Portal is not affiliated, endorsed, or sponsored in any way to the service providers mentioned in this article.