Wouldn’t it be nice to have a handy checklist, made by experts, so you know what tech you do and don’t need for your practice? Luckily, Person Centered Tech is here to help with that. Use it in good health!
1) An email service that does HIPAA Business Associate Agreements, and/or a secure messaging service that does HIPAA Business Associate Agreements. Secure messaging services are often called “encrypted email,” and you can think of them as being the same thing.
Do you need separate services for regular email and encrypted email? Not necessarily. Most encrypted email services can also do regular old email if you’d like them to. For more info:
- Free Article: 3 Kinds of Email Security: How to Make an Informed and HIPAA-Aware Choice
- Product List: Secure Email Options
2) A way of doing voice phone calling. Phone service has gotten complicated enough these days that we can’t just say, “get phone service.” You have options of classic phone service, Internet phone service, and on and on. To learn more:
3) Believe it or not, FAX is still a thing. You can get a FAX machine on a landline, if you’d like. That’s an easy, HIPAA-friendly solution. But most of us would rather get an online FAX service and skip the machine + extra landline. Make sure the Internet FAX service you choose does HIPAA Business Associate Agreements. For more info:
- Product List: HIPAA-Friendly Services with Internet FAX
4) Most clients want to engage in texting with their therapist. Some therapists simply make it a policy that they don’t text, but that’s becoming less and less tenable. If you do plan to accommodate texting, we recommend you get ahead of it and adopt a secure way to do texting. More info:
- Free Article: Secure Texting Is Now Cheap and Easy, and It’s Time to Stop Using SMS and iMessage
- Product List: HIPAA-Friendly Secure Texting Options
5) Encrypt everything that stores client info: computers, smartphones, thumb drives, external hard drives, etc. It’s usually easy and cheap to do so and provides incredible protection from HIPAA-related problems. For more info:
6) Get antimalware software for all computers (including Macs!) and Android phones. Viruses and malware are becoming more and more of a problem for health care pros. So make sure you take advantage of this basic preventive measure to protect your clients and your practice from harm.
7) A method of keeping backups for everything your store on your computers, etc. You can keep backups on things like external hard drives (see above about encrypting!) Make sure that if you do this, the backups are stored at a separate location from your computer.
You can also use cloud backup services, which will make it easy to ensure that your backups get made regularly and that the backups are stored in a separate location from your computer.
- Product List: HIPAA-Friendly Cloud Backup Services
8) And of course you need a way to keep records. Paper and pen always work. You can also use online practice management systems. Be very careful not to pick a practice management system hastily. Do your diligence to make sure that the system you choose really meets your particular needs.
- Article: Paper Records vs. Electronic Records
- Product List: Practice Management Systems / Electronic Record Systems
This should help you get started. Be sure to come back as you need to read our various article series and get yourself educated on the different applications of tech in your practice.