How do you know if the third party platform you are using is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA? Most HIPAA-compliant sites will make the therapist sign a HIPAA-compliant business associate agreement. If the site you are using does not require you to sign an agreement of some sort, then your practice could be at risk. To avoid this, here are some platforms that are safe to use:
Hushmail, is a web-based platform that automatically encrypts all emails in PGP form as well as provides file storage and vanity domain services. This site has a free version or you can upgrade to a paid version. The email works by encrypting data and sending to a recipient, the recipient is then given a password to use so they can access the data on the email. This allows for those who don not have a Hushmail account to safely access any information, while those who have the account are assured that the information is encrypted and only those who should access it are allowed to do so. To learn more about what encrypted emails are and how to properly approach for safe and secure email exchange, click here!
CounSol.com is a practice management tool that allows counselors and therapists to use video and chatting features with clients. CounSol, or Counselor Solution, is an online-based system that gives patients access to special portals where they have options to schedule, pay, watch videos, or chat with a therapist. After the counselor or therapist has set up the account, they give the patient a link to a portal which allows for secure access to all options. Video streaming and chatting are all HIPAA compliant on a secured network, safe for the healthcare provider.
Talktoanexpertinc.com is another service that allows medical practitioners to expand their services outside the office. With just a phone, computer, or Tablet, medical practitioners are able to communicate with patients through video streaming and chat. Therapists have options to develop special blogs and websites for patients to view, or direct help through email or video chat. All direct help can be scheduled using the talktoanexpertinc.com network. This is a way to reach more patients and gain extra revenue, or reach patients who are located too far for a personal visit. Cost is counted per-minute of the session. Patients are billed at the end of each session.
Staying HIPAA compliant is very important when using third-party platforms to communicate with clients. In order to comply with HIPAA standards, it is important to only use platforms that abide by their rules. There are many more platforms that are HIPAA compliant some include Wecounsel.com, iTherapy.com, and virtualtherapyconnect.com. When doing your research to find a platform you want to use for your practice whether it be for counseling, emailing or scheduling the key is to ensure the platform will sign a HIPAA-compliant business associate agreement, if the platform does not have that agreement then move on to find one that will. This helps to prevent legal battles down the road, pertaining to HIPAA compliance.