The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act was passed in 1996, and few regulators back then could have predicted the rapid and widespread evolution of medical technology that has occurred since that time. Although the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act was passed more recently, HIPAA remains the cornerstone of medical record and communication privacy requirements for those in the field.

One of the key aspects of compliant and secure communications that is too often overlooked in health care is email management, as these messages will often contain information that is covered by HIPAA requirements. However, service providers are offering more advanced and secure email solutions to meet the demands of the modern medical organization.

Case in point

HealthData Management recently reported that a test conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston revealed an automated, secure email notification system has helped improve the efficiency and accuracy of patient care, specifically because of quicker turnarounds on test results. It is important to note here that security and privacy represent only one side of a coin, and usability is just as important to the success of these deployments.

According to the news provider, researchers started to use a notification system that effectively doubled the success of physician awareness compared to the processes taking place before using the newer service. However, the source pointed out that the researchers believe the success of these types of arrangements will be highly contingent upon the policies that govern privacy, security and accessibility.

"In theory, this strategy could facilitate electronic acknowledgement, transfer of responsibility and subsequent actions, thereby improving patient safety during care transitions," the researchers stated, according to HealthData Management.

At the end of the day, though, this system can reduce inefficiencies at the point of care, leading to better outcomes in the patient-physician relationship.

Security in the age of automation

This system, as well as many others impacting the health care communications arena today, is more reliant upon automation than many services were in the past. Automation can certainly improve spend-management and the speed of collaboration services delivery, but it might also present compliance and security related issues when not handled properly.

Protected Trust provides HIPAA and HITECH compliant secure email services to give health care providers all of the tools and protections necessary for modernized, advanced patient care.