HIPAA Compliant Electronic Documents | Guide

Paperwork is an essential part of healthcare, but it often takes time away from your staff. Despite your constant reminders to your patients to come in early for check-in, many of them don’t, wasting part of their appointment time filling out and signing paperwork. The paperwork also often holds up patient referrals, insurance payments, and more. 

Using HIPAA-compliant electronic documents allows you to collect electronic signatures ahead of time, speeding up your ability to care for patients and get paid for your services. 

What is HIPAA Compliance? 

HIPAA stands for the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Passed in 1996, HIPAA is a set of standards governing how health providers, insurance companies, and other agencies disclose private patient health information. 

Violating HIPAA puts your healthcare agency at risk of steep fines and even criminal prosecution. For this reason, you should not use email to send electronic documents for a digital signature. Use HIPAA-compliant electronic documents, including an electronic signature solution that passes security protocols. 

Benefits of Healthcare Electronic Signature

Healthcare electronic signature tools allow you to create digital signatures to send medical records and other paperwork digitally. Instead of sending a medical document to a physician or an insurance provider for a signature, you can get a HIPAA-compliant electronic signature immediately for faster processing. 

For patients, HIPAA-compliant electronic documents give them faster access to care without compromising their sensitive information. For example, if someone is having a medical emergency, you can send their medical history to the care provider while they are en route to the care facility without violating security protocol. The patient’s emergency care provider can be prepared for what awaits them when the patient arrives. 

Using HIPAA compliance software helps you remain compliant with regulations, saving you from potential penalties. 

Requirements for HIPAA Compliant Electronic Signature

When using electronic signatures, you are required to comply with HIPAA regulations as well as federal and state contract laws, such as the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, which creates rules for e-signatures. You also need to make sure any protected information is transmitted securely and safe from unauthorized access. 

Here are the requirements for HIPAA-compliant electronic signatures: 

  1. A business associate agreement with third-party vendors: Third-party vendor associate agreements are important because they ensure that your vendors also follow HIPAA rules when handling personal health information. A third-party electronic signature solution created by people who understand healthcare will have these protections in place. 
  2. Clear intent to enter into an agreement: HIPAA requires signers to show clear intent to enter into an agreement. Healthcare electronic signature software with user authentication and added steps that require users to confirm their identity can help you meet this requirement.
  3. Message integrity: To be HIPAA compliant, you need to choose an electronic signature solution that maintains message integrity. When you use a platform with proper security measures, your patients will know that their personal health information is safe and confidential unless they authorize you to release it. 
  4. A verifiable audit trail: Having a verifiable audit trail is essential for maintaining HIPAA compliance. Make sure your HIPAA-compliant electronic documents include time stamps and other digital paper trails to cover you and your patients. This protects you from patients or other parties who say they never signed a document. It also helps you prove compliance if your facility is audited. 

How to Ensure HIPAA Compliant Document Signing

There are many steps you can take to make sure your electronic signatures are compliant. First, use a HIPAA compliance checklist to make sure everyone on your staff transmits electronic documents the same way. 

Use a healthcare electronic signature tool that lets you control access to the system. Limiting access to key personnel helps you keep records safer and more secure. Partner with a third-party vendor with experience in the healthcare industry because they understand how to protect patient records. 

If you’re unfamiliar with federal and state-level contract laws in your area, consult a lawyer to help you set up your compliance checklist. As a healthcare professional, you’re likely familiar with HIPAA compliance but not the contract laws and guidelines for electronic signatures. A lawyer can help you ensure your e-signature practices comply with these regulations. 

Finally, make sure whichever platform you use to collect e-signatures comes with security measures that protect your patients' personal health information. 

Reap the Benefits of Using a HIPAA Compliant Document Management Software

Instead of searching for HIPAA-compliant electronic signature software and document management software, use a platform that does both. WorldView’s digital signature software lets you manage and transmit patient health records, track orders, make notes, and collect electronic signatures with one tool. 

The platform works well with mobile devices, so your staff can use it while on-site with patients or other providers. Stop letting paperwork bottlenecks stand in the way of patient care. Schedule a demo today.

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