Communicating with customers or potential ones via chat, as well as via HIPAA compliant email, is a key part of the healthcare digital transformation we are undergoing right now. Now that many companies, including those in the healthcare industry, are moving to a remote or work-from-home structure, utilizing a chatbot service can help capture more customer information. SEE ALSO: Cybersecurity Challenges of Remote Working That means, for many, staying HIPAA compliant is even more important than ever. But how HIPAA compliant can chatbots be? It depends on a variety of things. Today we are going to look at Freshchat.
About FreshchatIn 2018, Freshworks launched its sixth product , Freshchat, as a new lead generating avenue for sales and marketing teams. Freshchat has more capabilities than a customer-support only service, like the company's own Freshdesk . Freshworks saw the changing landscape of how consumers expect their experience to be with a company and adapted to create Freshchat, a “full-featured modern messaging software for sales and customer engagement.”
What is a business associate?A business associate is a person or company that performs certain functions or activities that involve the use or disclosure of protected health information (PHI) for a covered entity. In easier terms, the role of a business associate is to help covered entities comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
Business associate agreement provisionsIf a business associate provides services to a covered entity, then a business associate agreement (BAA) must be in place. A BAA is a written contract between a covered entity and a business associate and is required by law for HIPAA compliance. At a minimum, a business associate agreement contains 10 provisions.
Freshchat and HIPAAAfter checking the Freshchat website, we found a webpage discussing its HIPAA compliance: Freshworks commitment towards HIPAA compliance . From this post, we know that:
- Freshworks (Freshchat) may execute a BAA
- This BAA is limited to the following Freshworks products:
- Other products offered by Freshworks will not be covered within the scope of the BAA
Does Freshchat offer HIPAA compliant service?A BAA is available for customers on the Forest plan but not for other plans (Sprout, Blossom, Estate, Garden). As stated in Freshworks' compliance document linked above, "Freshworks may extend support to their compliance towards HIPAA by mutually executing a Business Associate Agreement (BAA)." Freshworks doesn’t give more detail about which covered entities or business associates a BAA will be extended to. For more information about Freshchat’s data security, click here .
ConclusionFreshchat can be HIPAA compliant for Forest plan customers for the Freshworks products listed above once a BAA is executed. Modern healthcare providers might consider adding a chatbot to their website as another way to communicate with their patients. Providers who would like to send HIPAA compliant emails as well should consider adding Paubox Email Suite to their services too. Paubox Email Suite provides email encryption by default from a user's existing email platform (such as Google Workspace or Microsoft 365). Emails are delivered directly to a patient's email inbox. That means no more pesky email portals for patients and healthcare providers alike.
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