Most industries in virtually every country are moving toward electronic paperwork and e-signatures. The healthcare sector is no exception. In the US, for example, HIPAA Compliant e-Signature holds precisely as much legal weight as traditional signatures as long as they comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Here are some facts and terms that may help if you’re worried about navigating the field.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
This Act is a US national law governing the security, privacy, and protection of patient data. Failure to comply can lead to hefty fines, penalties, and even loss of licenses.
Protected Health Information (PHI)
In terms of HIPAA, PHI refers to any piece of information from a personal medical record related to a patient’s health, illnesses, mental status, fees, and any other kind of documentation regarding their care. Here are a few examples:
Name, phone numbers, fax numbers, and e-mail addresses
Social Security numbers
Medical record numbers
Health plan beneficiary numbers
Device identifiers and serial numbers
Web Universal Resource Locators (URLs) and Internet Protocol (IP) address numbers
Education and employment records
Full face photographic images
The HIPAA Omnibus Final Rule
The Omnibus Rule is a composite of four closely-related final rules the HIPAA Privacy Rule, HIPAA Security Rule, HIPAA Breach Notification Rule, and HIPAA Enforcement Rule. Furthermore, HITECH is responsible for data and privacy security regarding e-health records. Following this rule, as well as HIPAA privacy stipulations, is essential for all healthcare providers.
Notice of Private Practices
Under HIPAA, providers must let patients know how their information will be used and shared. This notice also covers the right to health privacy. In case you would like to share your patients’ info, you will need to inform them first either by mail or in person.
In addition, the new rule expands individuals’ rights to receive electronic copies of their health information.
E-signatures on medical documents
HIPAA law allows for electronic signing of medical forms and records, so long as they also comply with US law about legal e-signatures. These laws are the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (UETA) and the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN).
Both of these laws confirm the equal legal effect of handwritten paper documents and electronically signed records. The ESIGN Act specifically makes it illegal to deny the enforceability of a contract due to its being digital.
HIPAA law and electronic signatures
There are three major requirements for e-signatures to comply with HIPAA legally. These are:
1. Patient consent
Patients must be aware of and agree to the use of electronic documentation and signing. Also, they must openly and willingly agree to use this form of contract or report.
2. Full documentation and ID authentication
Everything that occurs in the process must have a complete record, and there must be 2-factor identity security such as a password, a code, a photograph, or something else to avoid issues with patient rights.
Signatures, and documents must be tamper-proof or alter-evident and encrypted to prevent forgeries and retain the integrity of each report.
Not all electronic signature options comply with all three of these conditions. As a result, medical practitioners must be aware of this when selecting their digital transaction platform. Fortunately, eSign Genie certification follows both UETA and the ESIGN Act, making HIPAA compliance simple.
E-signatures and efficient processes
There are a considerable number of benefits to switching to e-signatures and electronic documents. Here are five top examples of improvements that can happen.
1. Better compliance
Electronic documents designed to comply with HIPAA, UETA, and ESIGN get authenticated before sending. This authentication means they are protected, secure, and free of legal mistakes.
You no longer have to keep records in an office. Also, your patients do not have to wait their time signing piles of papers in the waiting room. Legal signatures can be created at a time, place, and on a device that suits the practitioner and the patient. Since digital forms must be fully complete before submission, it also prevents leaving out important information.
3. Efficient processes
Quick signing means things can be decided and implemented much more quickly. This speed improves patient care as treatments, history, medications, and all other operations are available at a click before their appointment.
4. Easy maintenance and less manual work
eSign Genie reduces the physical storage rooms required to maintain and preserve paper documents. Also, electronic sign documents are much less likely to go missing! As well, your medical staffs no longer need to waste much time fixing paper documents or trying to get ink signatures from patients.
5. Proof and reporting
eSign Genie tracks and stores all of the steps of the signature process, from set-up through signature to final document delivery. Through eSign Genie API you can also have the featured of Microsoft word insert signature. When it comes to electronic evidence, it is always best to have as much information to deal with as possible. This means that if an electronically signed document needs to stand up to scrutiny in courtrooms,
Main Use Cases for HIPAA compliant e-signatures
The signatures commonly operate in several documents and forms. Some of these include:
Hospital forms, onboarding forms, and new patient acceptance forms
Billing and patient consent documents
Health insurance claims, provider agreements, and medical or drug prescriptions
Care documents and lab reports
The Cost of HIPAA Violations
HHS works through the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to ensure HIPAA compliance. They investigate complaints, do check-ups, and maintain security.
There is a sliding scale of consequences depending on the level of negligence. Fines per record can be as little as $100 and as much as $50,000. Non-compliant practitioners may also face criminal prosecution.
eSign Genie and HIPAA
As an e-signature platform, eSign is compliant with HIPAA law in several important ways. These include:
1. Legal compliance
Above all, eSign Genie is compliant with UETA and the ESIGN act, making all signatures legally enforceable.
2. Business Associate (BA) compliance
The platform follows an extensive list of safety procedures to ensure compliance and security.
3. User Authentication compliance
Most important, covered entities (CEs) must be validated for every electronic transaction to prevent legal disputes and prevent rights. Besides the required two-step verification, eSign Genie also makes use of authentication methods like Knowledge-based authentication (KBA), E-mail, SMS codes, and Q&A entries.
4. Proof of client intent
Using a comprehensive audit system, eSign Genie gives you the proof you need that each patient and signatory legally consented to perform the signing and execution of the document digitally.
eSign Genie protects all materials from tampering. Moreover, it can provide proof of any attempt to modify records unlawfully. Also, the platform uses a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and encryption.
Under HIPAA, the CE must retain a copy of a single document containing all information regarding the report and signature. The signatories may keep a copy, but you need to deleted or destroy all the others. Consequently, eSign Genie regularly updates its global technology partners and cloud systems to make sure external breaches get prevented when dealing with these documents.
With these considerations in mind, you can see why eSign Genie is the perfect choice when selecting the HIPAA compliant online signature.
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HIPAA Compliant e-Signature