HIPAA Compliant Video Conferencing 101: All You Need To Know

hipaa compliant video conferencing

With the rise in data breaches and cyber attacks, the enforcement of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant software in the healthcare industry has augmented.

As per a report, the number of breaches in the healthcare industry has doubled since the year 2014 and more than 29 million healthcare records were attacked in 2020.

Cyber attacks aren’t limited to only PHI (Protected Health Information) but have expanded to video conferencing via telehealth as well.

According to the researchers’ note published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, the relaxation of the use of apps such as FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Skype for telemedicine has made it easier for patients to access healthcare.

However, this has raised concerns about data protection, especially during incidences such as ‘Zoom Bombing’ in 2020.

To avoid data breaches, researchers recommend the usage of consumer video conferencing tools with encryption and configuration settings. A customized HIPAA compliant telemedicine application comes with a firewall for video conferencing.

What to Lookout For in a HIPAA Compliant Video Conferencing Software?

While choosing a HIPAA compliant app, here are a few features to look out for before its purchase or use.

1. Co-browsing

Co-browsing allows patients and healthcare providers to be on the same page. With one click the providers can view and communicate with the patients’ web browsers. This allows physicians to offer personalized and live guidance through complex procedures.

Note that physicians can only view those pages that are enabled with the co-browse feature and cannot open any other tabs, hence maintaining privacy. With co-browsing, healthcare facilities provide immediate onscreen help, and sharing the web eliminates the need for verbal exchange.

Co-browse solutions provide one-way video and give physicians and patients a real-time view. Further, it also humanizes the interaction and nurtures a personal connection. A successful video interaction builds personal, private, and visual engagement. Co-browsing helps physicians to achieve engagement and improve patient experience, satisfaction, and loyalty.

Preserving healthcare is essential for safeguarding patients’ security and privacy. Here are a few data protection protocols that every healthcare facility can implement for co-browsing:

  1. Connect healthcare providers to patients through secure and encrypted local services.
  2. Assure that the co-browsing solution doesn’t need a JAVA code or app downloads on the user’s computer or mobile phone.
  3. Ensure that co-browsing meets HIPAA Business Associates (BA) compliance for data transmission.
  4. Blocks healthcare professionals from viewing anything other than the relevant window for information.
  5. The co-browsing tool is configured and needs permission to see the screen.

2. E-Signatures

HIPAA act doesn’t define the method of signing documents, therefore signing them electronically does not affect the law. Further, a web-based, electronic, and HIPAA compliant signature tool signs documents via mouse, keyboard, or touch screen from any web-based device.

For instance, SignCenter is one such HIPAA compliant e-signature tool designed for healthcare and this addresses complex and unique security concerns. This was built to integrate smoothly with today’s business applications. SignCenter saves time by eliminating the need to jump between duplicate data entry and programs. One can manage signs in one place.

E-signatures are interoperable with EHR (Electronic Health Records) and is easier for patients to sign forms digitally at an inpatient facility or a medical office. E-signatures are equipped with several layers of authentication and security to assure the safety and privacy of data.

In addition, e-signatures consist of an electronic record that acts as a proof or audit trail of transaction. The level of authentication needed for e-signature depends on healthcare business practice. E-signature verifies the identity of the signer before accessing the document through the following methods.

  1. Access code: This is the one-time password entered by the user.
  2. Email address: The mail ID is compared with the one used for the e-signature invite link.
  3. Phone call: Users have to call a number and enter an access code along with their mail ID.
  4. Knowledge-based: Signers are asked questions such as vehicles owned or previous addresses.
  5. SMS: Users have to type a one-time passcode.
  6. ID verification: People have to verify their identity through government-issued photo IDs.

3. Customer Service

A HIPAA compliant video conferencing software must have a call center for providing customer support along with safeguarding their information. Virtual receptionists are incorporated in clinics or hospitals to answer queries ranging from test results to medication refills.

Every healthcare organization is bound to face difficulties while using video conferencing software, hence before purchasing consider these two points:

  1. Support offered by the software vendor to the care team.
  2. Support provided to the patients.

A HIPAA compliant call center helps to manage incoming calls during busy shifts. Also, during emergencies, prioritizing those patient services takes off the load.

HIPAA answering services ensure that calls are transferred to the right healthcare professional and urgent calls are routed directly to the concerned physician immediately.

4. Data Encryption

E2EE (End-to-end Encryption) is the gold standard for compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This level of encryption guarantees that only the device used to initiate the video call has access to the encryption key, and conversations are carried out securely.

Many popular video services such as Skype and FaceTime do not adhere to this level of encryption. Malicious users or unauthorized third parties may attempt to access the data transmitted during a video call due to a lack of data encryption.

5. BAA

As per HIPAA, BAA (Business Associate Agreement) is a legally binding agreement between a Covered Entity (CE) and a Business Associate (BA) that outlines the respective obligations of each party regarding the protection of PHI.

BAA ensures that health information is protected at all times and the entities follow all the privacy and security norms of HIPAA regulations.

6. Storage for Video Transmission

Efficient storage of video transmissions is crucial for managing vast amounts of multimedia data. Compression algorithms like H.264 and H.265 reduce file sizes, making storage more manageable. Cloud-based solutions offer scalability, while data centers and distributed systems help ensure reliability and accessibility, enabling seamless video retrieval and playback.

To get a better idea of what each platform offers, search for “security on the platform”. This will give an idea of what they do, including “where and how” their platform servers are located.

It’s important to note that the data is not backed up by the platform provider itself. Instead, it’s stored in a separate facility that’s protected by biometric sensors and security guards. While this may seem like an extreme measure, it is worth taking a few more minutes to make sure the platform’s level of security is top-notch.

7. Keep Accidental Violations in Check

While some of the most popular video conferencing tools, such as Zoom, are HIPAA-compliant, the practice’s patient care team may still inadvertently violate the rules by sending a meeting invitation to a patient or inadvertently storing patient information in the practice’s Zoom account.

Hiring a video vendor who is well-versed in HIPAA compliance can help avoid unintentional HIPAA compliance violations.

HIPAA Compliant Video Conferencing APIs

API (Application Programming Interface) integrates various technical tools to augment video conferencing. For telehealth video conferencing apps such as Skype or Zoom aren’t suitable due to privacy and security concerns. Hence, using a video conferencing API for healthcare that’s HIPAA compliant is beneficial for data security.

Here are the top three HIPAA compliant video conferencing APIs that every healthcare facility can consider for safe virtual care.

1. Sendbird

Sendbird is considered a high-quality video calling API that is also HIPAA compliant. This is a one-to-one video conferencing API that is used by telehealth healthcare service providers, health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and health communities. Sendbird assures the safe transfer of PHI between providers and patients.

Further, Sendbird’s video chat app SDK (Software Development Kit) helps to develop human connections within the application, thus building a doctor-to-patient bond. This API allows healthcare facilities to connect in their preferred method. iOS video chat SDK and Android allow access to schedule chats to expand customers by connecting with them via on-camera or one-to-one chats.

Sendbird provides a customized and secure platform for a satisfactory customer experience. Apart from the healthcare industry, Sendbird API has left its mark in e-commerce, gaming, and other businesses as well.

2. Twilio

Twilio provides a range of services that are HIPAA compliant such as –

  1. Video recording
  2. Data track
  3. Media storage
  4. Recording compositions
  5. Network traversal service

Further, Twilio ensures encrypted communication between patients and healthcare professionals for data privacy and safety. For a HIPAA compliant application, HTTPS is an ideal choice to configure requests from Twilio. Signed requests by Twilio API assure security and the user has to verify the signature for further processing. This feature prevents requests from malicious third-party users that lead to cyberattacks.

HIPAA compliant Twilio is protected by a password for smooth workflow. Also, the public key client validation feature of Twilio secures interactions between the user and physician. This feature lets both people know that the services aren’t tampered with.

3. Agora

Agora is a perfect API tool because it’s scalable and easy to use. It also provides real-time video and audio updates, which is beneficial for the healthcare sector during life-and-death situations.

Further, disrupted network connections hampers real-time updates, and this results in loss or corruption of information. Hence, with Agora’s software-defined real-time network, this problem is easily solved. The software is designed to render fast and reliable connectivity with low latency.

NOVA – a feature of Agora that provides broadband, narrowband, and ultra-high frequencies. It also switches between various modes such as high-quality, adaptable, super high frequency, and low energy consumption. These features are helpful for physicians to explain complex healthcare problems efficiently, thus augmenting virtual patient experience and outcome.

4. Zoom

Zoom API is the first preference by the developers to access resources from the Zoom application. Apps can write and read the resources and mimic a few of the popular Zoom features available on the Zoom Web Portal. These features include starting a new meeting, viewing dashboards and reports, and adding, creating, and removing users.

Further, Zoom’s integration with Epic, an EHR system allows healthcare facilities to launch Zoom from a video visit workflow. Zoom is a HIPAA compliant application and all video conferencing is encrypted with an AES-256 bit encryption. This API is protected by a password to maintain data privacy and safety of patients.

On Zoom healthcare providers and patients can annotate, disable recordings, and do much more for security purposes. During a Zoom session, separate accounts are automatically generated by patients and healthcare professionals use information from the records. Patient accounts are automatically deleted post-session completion.

So, this was all about HIPAA compliant video conferencing that healthcare facilities, providers, and patients need to know while using it. HIPAA acts in video conferencing software making it suitable for the healthcare industry and its integration into telemedicine apps for the safe exchange of medical information.

5. Google Meet

Google Meet can be a powerful HIPAA compliant video conferencing solution. It can be made HIPAA compliant by signing a BAA with Google, assuring that the entity is in administrator mode when joining the call, or making the calendar private.

Features of Google Meet include:

  1. Recording: Healthcare practitioners can maintain an audit trail of the conversations wherever authorized to do so while ensuring HIPAA compliance.
  2. Live Captions: Video conferencing becomes more inclusive with the addition of speech recognition technology. This is quite useful for deaf patients.
  3. Private Consultations: With Google Meet, patients can join appointments from a private conference room for enhanced privacy.

6. GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting is a video conferencing tool that offers healthcare providers everything that they need to stay connected with their patients. It is a HIPAA compliant tool with AES 256 encryption, a Business Associate Agreement, and security features such as meeting locks, passwords, and disabled recordings.

Features of GoToMeeting include:

  1. No Time Limits: Providers can spend as much time as possible with patients without any meeting time limits.
  2. Chat Messaging: This HIPAA complaint messaging tool allows providers and patients to talk with each other in confidence.
  3. Screen Sharing: Patients and healthcare providers can share their documents to discuss medical files, prescriptions, and treatment options in a better way.
  4. HD Videos: One of the many perks of having a GoToMeeting video conferencing tool.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, ensuring HIPAA-compliant video conferencing is essential for safeguarding sensitive healthcare information during remote consultations.

Protecting patient privacy and data security is non-negotiable. To achieve this, healthcare providers should invest in trusted HIPAA-compliant video conferencing solutions.

Take action today to enhance patient trust and meet regulatory requirements. Connect with Arkenea, a leading healthcare software development company to get compliant video conferencing solutions, applications, websites, and software.