HIPAA Compliance for Medical Practices
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HIPAA Compliance for Medical Practices
HIPAA Compliance and HIPAA Risk management Articles, Tips and Updates for Medical Practices and Physicians
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Are wearable makers violating HIPAA?

Are wearable makers violating HIPAA? | HIPAA Compliance for Medical Practices | Scoop.it

It’s a question that has been asked before: With the wearables craze, is all that patient data really safe? The answer is complicated - and might not even exist within the law.


“The way these devices capture data poses serious privacy and security issues to individually identifiable health information that must be addressed,” asserted Julie Anderson, a SafeGov expert. “The central challenge devices such as Google Glass and Jawbone UP pose stems from the fact that they employ cloud-based data storage.”

Anderson explains how it gets thorny: Simply by buying one of these wearables, a customer agrees to the vendor's terms of service, which can be “fairly permissive” in what can and cannot be done with the data.


“Mining individually identifiable health information could constitute a breach of patient privacy if the analysis falls outside of the scope of HIPAA,” Anderson wrote in an article on mHealth News sister site Government Health IT. “It is not clear whether using patient data to improve products, as opposed to health outcomes, is allowed under this law. And an even more concerning scenario could take shape if health information were combined with other personal, non-medical data for the purposes of user profiling.”


Anderson recommends that vendors analyze, secure and share data in ways that increase their understanding of baseline access and enable an audit trail to identify who has edited a patient’s information.

The fact that many of these vendors are not experienced HIPAA-covered entities will no doubt complicate matters even more.


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Doximity launching app for the Apple Watch

Doximity launching app for the Apple Watch | HIPAA Compliance for Medical Practices | Scoop.it

Doximity announced today that they are launching an app for the Apple Watch, which hits the shelves later this month.


Many physicians will be familiar with Doximity, now that more than half of us have become registered users. Designed as a social network for physicians, Doximity includes a number of features that physicians will find useful for a lot more than just staying in touch with colleagues. In the recent rush of registrations on Doximity related to their partnership with US News and World Report, we wrote a quick guide on those key features. Included was secure HIPAA compliant messaging as well as an e-fax number and a journal feed.


Doximity’s Apple Watch app will bring some of these key features to your wrist. In particular, you’ll be able to read messages sent to you and dictate messages to other – without taking out your phone or pager, jumping on a computer, or spending endless minutes on hold trying to reach a colleague. You can also get notifications when you have a new fax come in – you can automatically view the fax on your iPhone using the Handoff functionality.

This hits on one the key functionalities we put on our wish list of apps for the Apple Watch – HIPAA compliant messaging. There are some limitations here worth noting. In particular, Doximity is limited to physicians so this won’t help with communication among a multi-disciplinary healthcare team, such as in a hospital or clinic. I wouldn’t be able to let a nurse know about a new medication or a social worker about an at-risk patient. Other platforms, like TigerText, will hopefully step in to bring that functionality to wearables like Apple Watch. That being said, the ability to send messages more easily to colleagues both inside and outside my own institution can be incredibly helpful.


We’re excited to see big players in the digital health space like Doximity embracing the Apple Watch. One natural question that frequently comes up is “what about Android devices?” Well, as Doximity points out, 85% of their mobile traffic is from iPhones & iPads. Its well recognized that physicians have largely embraced Apple devices and so medical app developers are going to go there first. So while many solid options have been available for Android, we expect the Apple Watch to be a catalyst in the development of new tools for clinicians.

Doximity’s app is just the start.


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TigerText bringing HIPAA compliant messaging to Apple Watch

TigerText bringing HIPAA compliant messaging to Apple Watch | HIPAA Compliance for Medical Practices | Scoop.it

TigerText announced this week that its bringing its HIPAA compliant messaging platform to the Apple Watch.


TigerText is a secure enterprise text messaging platform that meets HIPAA requirements for electronic communication. In his review of TigerText, Dr. Eli Sprecher described how the app is used at Boston Children’s Hospital. The app can be used to communicate protected patient health information, send media such as pictures and video, or send group texts. And everyone on the care team can use it – physicians, nurses, social workers, case managers, patient advocates, and so on.


According to TigerText, the Apple Watch app will give users the ability to read as well as dictate messages. Specifically, the app will include:

  • Speech-to-text: An alternative to typing out a message, users can speak into the watch, and the TigerText app will dictate their speech to text, helping them save time when corresponding with others.
  • Receive notifications & alerts: Automated alerts and notifications from the TigerText app can be directly received on the Apple Watch.
  • View photos: Users can quickly view photos sent via TigerText on the Apple Watch.


With the increasingly multidisciplinary nature of the care team, improved communication is critical to effective care. That’s why HIPAA-compliant messaging was included in our wishlist of apps for the Apple Watch. Doximity recently announced that they would be launching an Apple Watch app that enables secure communication among physicians as well as delivering notifications when you get a fax on your secure Doximity e-fax line.


TigerText is already a popular tool at many healthcare institutions. And that is open to any team member, not just physicians, makes it a better fit for communication within a care team at a hospital or clinic.

Given the cost of the Apple Watch, it seems unlikely that we’ll see an enterprise level deployment within healthcare in the near future though I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a few pilots pop up here and there. As recognized by TigerText, its far more likely to start out much the same way as the iPhone and iPad did – in a “bring your own device” model. And with physicians’ enthusiastic uptake of iOS devices, we’ll probably see a fair number of Apple Watches in the clinic and on the wards.


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