We’ve been seeing 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.
Since Paubox is a Business Associate to thousands of customers, we’ve been wondering if they are able to use Zoom Chat in a HIPAA compliant manner.
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.
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 Zoom Chat offers HIPAA compliant service or not.
Zoom Chat is part of Zoom Meetings, Zoom’s most popular product.
According to its data sheet, Zoom Chat offers calendar integrations, search, archiving, and encryption of data in-motion and at-rest.
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.
Read full article: What does it mean to be a Business Associate?
Business Associate Agreement provisions
If 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
Zoom and the Business Associate Agreement
We checked Zoom’s site for mention of their ability to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA).
We found the Zoom for Healthcare page, which spells out:
- HIPAA compliant Zoom starts at $2,400 per year
- Zoom will sign a BAA with a “HIPAA enabled plan”
In the Zoom Help Center, we also found an FAQ article called, HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA). There are a few configuration settings in Zoom that are applied to HIPAA enabled plans:
- Require encryption for 3rd Party Endpoints (H323/SIP) is enabled all account members
- Cloud recordings are disabled
- Device and user information is removed logging and reporting
- Encrypted Chat is be enabled by default
Furthermore, last week we reached out to Zoom support to inquire whether Zoom Chat lies within scope of the Zoom Business Associate Agreement. The answer is yes.
Does Zoom Chat 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 Zoom Chat and its ability to be considered a HIPAA compliant solution:
- Zoom is willing to sign a BAA with its customers
- The BAA is included as part of Zoom’s HIPAA enabled plan and does include different pricing and configuration settings
- Zoom Chat is considered as within scope of the Zoom BAA
Conclusion: Zoom Chat can be configured as a HIPAA compliant service.