HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, sets standards for the protection of patients’ health information. HIPAA regulations apply to healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses. One question that arises frequently is whether Gmail, the popular email service provided by Google, is HIPAA compliant. In this blog post, we will explore whether Gmail is HIPAA compliant and provide examples of other providers that are HIPAA compliant. We will also discuss the extra steps organizations can take to make sure they stay compliant.
Is Gmail HIPAA Compliant?
Gmail is not specifically designed to be HIPAA compliant. Google has not signed a business associate agreement (BAA) with healthcare organizations to ensure that Gmail is HIPAA compliant. Therefore, healthcare organizations should not use Gmail to send or receive protected health information (PHI) unless they have taken extra steps to ensure that Gmail is used in a way that complies with HIPAA regulations.
Examples of Other Providers That Are HIPAA Compliant
There are several email providers that are HIPAA compliant. These providers have signed a business associate agreement (BAA) with healthcare organizations to ensure that their services are HIPAA compliant. Examples of HIPAA compliant email providers include:
Microsoft Office 365: Microsoft Office 365 is a HIPAA compliant email provider that offers email encryption and data loss prevention (DLP) tools.
Amazon Web Services (AWS): AWS is a HIPAA compliant cloud-based email provider that offers email encryption and data loss prevention (DLP) tools.
Secure Email Providers: There are several secure email providers that offer HIPAA compliant email services. These providers use encryption to protect email messages and attachments and offer advanced security features to protect PHI.
Extra Steps Organizations Can Take to Stay Compliant
If an organization decides to use an email provider that is not specifically designed for HIPAA compliance, it can take extra steps to ensure that the email service is used in a way that complies with HIPAA regulations. These extra steps include:
Implement Encryption: Email messages and attachments that contain PHI should be encrypted to protect them from unauthorized access.
Establish Policies and Procedures: Healthcare organizations should establish policies and procedures that outline how email can be used to transmit PHI and train employees on these policies and procedures.
Conduct Regular Audits: Healthcare organizations should conduct regular audits of their email systems to ensure that they are being used in a way that complies with HIPAA regulations.
Sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA): Healthcare organizations should sign a business associate agreement (BAA) with email providers to ensure that their email services are HIPAA compliant.
If your organization still has questions about HIPAA compliance or needs assistance in achieving compliance, Darksteel Technologies can help. Our team of cybersecurity experts has extensive experience in providing HIPAA compliance services to healthcare organizations. We can help your organization conduct risk assessments, implement security controls, provide security awareness training to employees, and conduct compliance audits to ensure that your organization is following the appropriate policies and procedures to protect patients’ health information. Contact us today to learn more about our HIPAA compliance services and how we can help your organization stay compliant with HIPAA regulations.