Since Paubox is a Business Associate to thousands of customers, we’ve been wondering if they are able to use Microsoft Forms in a HIPAA compliant manner. As context, we've previously written about whether Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) is HIPAA compliant or not. In a nutshell, it can be. In fact, we've noticed more vendors, customers, and prospects asking about HIPAA compliant services. This is especially true now as we see an accelerated, long overdue adoption of digital transformation in healthcare. We know the HIPAA industry is vast, so we can empathize with just how many people need to use cloud services in this sector. Today we will determine if Microsoft Forms offers HIPAA compliant service or not.
Microsoft FormsMicrosoft Forms is an online survey creator. Released in 2016, Microsoft Forms allows users to create surveys and quizzes with automatic marking.
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 a nutshell, the role of a Business Associate is to help Covered Entities comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule Read full article: What does it mean to be a Business Associate?
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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. Read full article: Business Associate Agreement Provisions
Microsoft Forms and the Business Associate AgreementWe checked the Microsoft site for mention of their ability to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) for Microsoft Forms. We found the following pages:
- Security and Privacy in Microsoft Forms
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) & HITECH Acts
- Microsoft states that Microsoft Forms is HIPAA compliant.
- As is typical with Microsoft's site, it was hard to navigate and their own product names were outdated. In any case, we found this link, which will automatically download a PDF called Microsoft_Dynamics_365_Cloud_Service_Compliance_Datasheet.pdf
- On page 23 of the aforementioned PDF, we see that Microsoft Forms is indeed covered by Microsoft's BAA for Microsoft 365 (incorrectly referred to as Office 365 in the PDF). See screenshot below.
Does Microsoft Forms offer HIPAA Compliant Service?The Business Associate Agreement (BAA) is a key component to HIPAA compliance between a Covered Entity and a Business Associate. We were able to learn the following about Microsoft Forms about their ability to be considered a HIPAA compliant solution:
- Microsoft Forms is considered part of Microsoft 365 and is covered by Microsoft's BAA.
Conclusion: Microsoft Forms is HIPAA compliant. Make sure you sign a BAA with Microsoft before using Microsoft 365 to store or transmit any Protected Health Information (PHI).
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