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Six Critical Digital Workplace Security Risks and How to Avoid Them

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Enterprise Collaboration & HIPAA Compliance

by Aware HQ

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal regulation that secures patient confidentiality. HIPAA affirms the right that a patient has to their body and the information associated to their private health. HIPAA violations can range from $100 to $50,000 per incident.

Paying close attention to violations is more important than ever with the introduction of collaboration tools that are transforming business practices.

Protecting electronic personal health information (ePHI) is often a major concern when rolling out a collaboration tool, but with proper controls in place, this concern can be alleviated. 

Doctors, surgeons, nurses, or any other healthcare professionals should have the ability to collaborate and drive business goals while still remaining complaint with HIPAA. 

Why Are So Many Companies Rolling Out Digital Collaboration?

In the past, email was the primary method of communicating to peers in the workplace, but as email adoption increased, so did the amount of clutter. Collaboration platforms arose as the solution to streamlining communications.

Collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams, Workplace by Facebook, and Slack allow for real-time communications so that professionals can swiftly communicate information and deliver immediate results.

These tools allow employees to communicate freely, but in certain cases the responsibility falls on employers to make certain that their organization remains HIPAA compliant on these platforms.

What Does a HIPAA Violation Look like on a Collaboration Platform?

Collaboration tools are central to any healthcare company pursuing a digital transformation which is often defined by the coupling of real-time data insights and adoption of workplace digital tools to create a more effective enterprise.

Misuse of a collaboration network has the potential to open a healthcare provider to a HIPAA violation. Here are some common examples of HIPAA violations on a collaboration network:

Sharing Private Patient Information

Patient information is sensitive and unnecessary access to personal data is considered a HIPAA violation. For example, in 2008, 13 hospital workers were fired for looking into Britney Spears health information.

Misusing File Content and File Types

Medical records are forbidden from being shared on unsecure networks, and this was the case in a 2016 case that had five physicians pay a six-figure settlement for posting medical procedure dates on a public cloud calendar.

Making Public Inquiries That Violate a Patients Privacy

Collaboration platforms allow employees to ask their colleagues questions about best practices and recommendation. However, it is a HIPAA violation to share any protected health information on any collaboration platform and this is a major concern for front-line workers that interact with patients regularly and may inadvertently share PHI when simply looking for an answer to general questions.

Using the Aware Monitoring Module to Help Maintain HIPAA Compliance

In the digital age, where employers have deployed workstream collaboration tools to encourage employees to problem solve in real-time, it is imperative for employers to also deploy a real-time governance solution.

Collaboration has the potential to improve patient care and increase employee engagement. However, rolling out a governance solution alongside a collaboration tool is critical to ensure safe, secure, and compliant employee communication.

— Kaitlyn Debelak, Head of Customer Success, Aware

Aware's Monitoring Module has a multitude of configurable capabilities that can enable your organization to roll out a collaboration program—while confidently maintaining HIPAA compliance.

Users are able to configure specific policies to fit their business needs. Our out-of-the-box policies are trusted by industry leaders and solve for a wide array of regulations, including HIPAA.

Nuanced Keywords Filtering Capabilities 

Through keyword filtering and configurable regular expressions, leaders can detect shared content in messages, like date of birth, patient numbers, credit card information.

File Sharing and Type Pattern Detection

The capability to identify what and when files are shared by employees, gives leaders further visibility into shared information throughout an organization.

Configurable Real-Time Responses

Administrators can set automated actions such as Flag, Report, or Delete in response to triggered policies.

For example, if a nurse is asking a question about a treatment, but accidentally shares a patient's name, Aware can be configured to identify the PHI breach and delete the message upon sending.

An additional policy can be set up to send a note to the offender, educating them of the incident and the regulation. 

Learn How to Overcome Common Barriers to Enterprise-Wide Rollout 

Digital collaboration tools are changing the way enterprises around the globe communicate and innovate.

The promised days of next-gen collaboration are here and it’s time for your organization to jump on the train—or risk getting left behind. Bring Aware to your organization today!

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Topics:ComplianceEnterprise Collaboration