We often get asked by customers and prospects about Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) and their ability to use it in a HIPAA compliant manner.
We know the HIPAA market is vast so we can empathize with just how many people need to use cloud-based storage services in this sector.
UPDATE: In April 2020, in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the Notification of Enforcement Discretion, which allows healthcare providers to use widely available communication apps, such as [name of the app], for telehealth services without the risk of incurring HIPAA fines. For more information, check out this recent Paubox blog post.
In previous posts, we’ve covered the following cloud solutions and their capabilities for HIPAA compliance:
- Amazon CloudFront
- Apple iCloud
- Citrix ShareFile
- Google Calendar
- Google Docs
- Google Drive
- Google Forms
- Google Hangouts
- Google Slides
- Google Voice
- Office 365
The purpose of this post is to determine if Google Workspace offers HIPAA compliance or not.
SEE ALSO: HIPAA Breaches and Cloud Providers
About Google Workspace (G Suite)
Google Workspace is Google’s brand of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools. Its most popular services are Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Drive (including Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms).
While these services are typically free to use for consumers, Google Workspace adds enterprise features such as branded email addresses at a domain (@yourcompany.com), as well as phone and email support.
Google Workspace and the Business Associate Agreement
We’ve previously talked about how a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) is a written contract between a Covered Entity and a Business Associate. It is required by law for HIPAA compliance.
We checked Google’s site and found a Google Workspace Administrator Help article called HIPAA Compliance with Google Workspace.
In the article, Google points out:
“Google offers a BAA covering Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive (including Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms), Google Hangouts (chat messaging feature only), Hangouts Meet, Google Keep, Google Cloud Search, Google Sites, Jamboard, and Google Vault services.”
Does Google’s Google Workspace Offer HIPAA Compliant Service?
The Business Associate Agreement is a key component to HIPAA compliance between a Covered Entity and a Business Associate.
Since Google offers one that covers Google Workspace, we conclude that Google Workspace is a HIPAA compliant service.
It’s important to note however:
- You must sign a BAA with Google. It is not included by default.
- Google’s BAA does not cover email sent or received in transit.
Google Workspace email isn’t HIPAA compliant out of the box.
Download the Quick Guide to HIPAA Compliant Email for free.
Conclusion: Google Workspace, formerly known as Google Apps, is HIPAA Compliant. Make sure you sign a BAA with Google and that you have a solution in place to address email sent in transit.
SEE ALSO: Is Gmail HIPAA Compliant