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Implementing HIPAA-safe email communication for older patients

Implementing HIPAA-safe email communication for older patients

Considered one of the fastest-growing populations in the country, the projected number of older Americans is expected to double by 2040. As the number of older adults increases, their lifespan is as well. People are living longer thanks to advanced technology and new medical breakthroughs that have revolutionized the healthcare system. Older adults are also becoming more educated about technology, primarily due to the increased need to use technology daily to participate in society.  It’s also no secret that older adults have more health challenges than younger people. As they age, they are more likely to go to the doctor and seek medical treatment for illnesses.  While not all providers cater specifically to the senior population, all should prepare to communicate with older patients in a way that best suits their needs, such as HIPAA compliant email.  


How do older adults feel about technology? 


At least 75% of seniors 65+ are using a cellphone of some sort, many of which are smartphones.  Many older adults are motivated to learn how to use technology to stay up-to-date on relevant information and communicate with family. This has become even more true during the pandemic, as seniors have had to isolate themselves from friends and family and rely on video calls and texting to talk with them. 

SEE ALSO: Zoom HIPAA compliance: the ultimate guide


In what ways are healthcare providers using technology with their older patients? 


Many healthcare providers use patient portals as a way for people to access their health information and to communicate with their providers. But patient engagement with portals is low, and with login spoofing and other traps that cybercriminals use, perhaps there is a better way to communicate with your patients. 

A study conducted by Sighn et al. (2015) found that when asked, older adults reported that they wanted to use email as the primary communication method with their physician, even if they faced challenges accessing the internet. Participants in this study viewed email as a progressive way to enhance talking with their doctor rather than reaching them over the phone, which is often a challenge. 

Using HIPAA email, questions about medications, test results, or sudden health changes can be answered quickly. However, a 2016 study found that many health practitioners are hesitant about implementing email communication because they are not convinced of the feasibility and safety.  The need for creating a more secure environment for seniors’ protected health information (PHI) has been demonstrated, especially for senior home care providers. With data breaches and cybercriminal activity becoming more frequent, protecting PHI is vital to the success of your practice and the safety of your patients. 


How can you achieve this for your practice? 


Implementing a HIPAA compliant email system may seem like a daunting challenge. However, it’s a lot easier than you think. Paubox has a variety of products that can help you achieve security for your patients.  Paubox Email Suite Suite automatically encrypts all outbound emails and delivers them directly to your patient’s inbox without requiring a password or portal to read the information. It works with Google Workspace, Microsoft 365 , and Microsoft Exchange. 

With our Premium plan level, you also get the following features to protect your inboxes from malicious email threats: 


Overall, providing HIPAA compliant email for older patients provides huge benefits for patients and practitioners alike—creating a more transparent and safer healthcare community. 


Try Paubox Email Suite for FREE today.

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