Is it a HIPAA violation to email medical records?

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Email offers a convenient way for patients and healthcare providers to communicate. At the same time, it can lead to concerns around keeping patient information and protected health information (PHI) secure in emails.

So, can providers safely email medical records while still remaining in HIPAA compliance? 

The following information will help you stay HIPAA compliant when sending medical records over email. Additionally, learn why you should use a secure email provider to ensure HIPAA compliance and ease of use for your practice and organization.

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Can I email medical records? 

Yes, medical records can be sent over email as long as they are sufficiently protected and follow HIPAA email compliance. And strengthening your email security strategy is a good place to start. 

Does the HIPAA Security Rule allow medical records sent through email?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the HIPAA Security Rule does not explicitly prohibit using email to send electronic protected health information (ePHI). 

However, covered entities are required to implement certain policies and procedures based on HIPAA standards for access control, integrity and transmission security.

These measures must “restrict access to PHI, monitor how PHI is communicated, ensure the integrity of PHI at rest, ensure 100% message accountability and protect PHI from unauthorized access during transit.” 

How can I make sure that my emails are HIPAA compliant?

According to HIPAA email rules, ePHI must remain secure at rest and in transit. In order to accomplish this, organizations should use a HIPAA secure email provider that supports encryption. 

Encryption ensures that only the intended recipient can access the PHI included in the email. Even if an unauthorized individual successfully accesses the email, they will be unable to read the PHI contained within it. 

What is the difference between a HIPAA compliant email platform and a HIPAA capable one?

It is also important to keep in mind that there is a difference between a HIPAA compliant email platform and a HIPAA capable one. 

Although many popular email providers offer email encryption, they often are not HIPAA compliant until you configure additional features and sign a business associate agreement (BAA) with the company.

Is Gmail HIPAA compliant?

For instance, as of October 2022, Gmail encrypts 79% of sent emails. However, HIPAA requires 100% encryption for emails containing PHI. That 21% still gives cybercriminals an opening to intercept sensitive information in transit. 

Strengthen your provider email security with Paubox

The best way to safely send medical records over email is by using a third-party email security provider that encrypts 100% of the emails you send. That’s where Paubox Email Suite’s HIPAA compliant email service comes in. 

Make your email HIPAA compliant

Designed to seamlessly integrate with your existing email platforms, such as Google Workspace or Microsoft 365, Paubox Email Suite enables HIPAA compliant email by default and automatically encrypts every outbound message. This means you don’t have to spend time deciding which emails to encrypt. Your patients are able to receive your messages right in their inbox—no additional passwords or portals necessary. 

Protect your healthcare practice and organization from ransomware and inbound attacks

Along with enabling healthcare email encryption for compliance with HIPAA email rules, Paubox Email Suite’s Plus and Premium plan levels include robust inbound email security tools. These block malicious cyberattacks from reaching the inbox in the first place. 

Our patent-pending Zero Trust Email feature uses email AI to confirm that an email is legitimate. Additionally, our patented ExecProtect feature quickly intercepts display name spoofing attempts.

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Need to email medical records?

Over 4,000 healthcare customers trust Paubox to secure nearly 70,000,000 emails each month. HIPAA compliant and HITRUST-CSF certified technology that’s rated 4.9/5.0 on G2. Start sending secure and HIPAA compliant email with medical records today.

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Sara Uzer

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