Many of the updates healthcare providers and insurers share with individual consumers are highly sensitive and require strict adherence to HIPAA standards in order to protect privacy. Often, this compliance burden gets in the way of effective, personalized, compassion-driven communication, but part of keeping customers in the know is being able to communicate sensitive information in a way that maintains patient privacy and meets HIPAA standards while also building trust, showing empathy, and reflecting a high standard of care.
In other words, rather than letting compliance jeopardize the relationship-building nature of these communications, savvy healthcare companies should be looking for strategies to ensure their sensitive mailings won’t put confidential information at risk. This includes data security measures that extend to HIPAA compliant list transmission, print production, and mailings.
So, when your organization is looking for support for sensitive healthcare mailings, ask about these five capabilities to ensure your customer information is protected from beginning to end.
1. Data Security
From the initial transmission of data to the end of the engagement, the right vendor will have security protocols in place to protect sensitive information every step of the way. For starters, ask how a potential vendor vets any personnel before allowing them access to client data and find out whether there is any circumstance under which they disclose the sensitive information in their possession. HIPAA training for staff is a must.
2. Secure FTP Storage of Patient Names and Lists
A key component of data security is the method by which a potential direct mail partner stores and transmits the data they’re using on your behalf. You’ll want to ensure your vendor has a secure method of encrypting and electronically transmitting data, such as through a secure VPN or FTP. Otherwise, client information could be vulnerable to a data breach, which would not only break client trust, but could also land your organization in legal hot water.
3. HiTrust Certification
The HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF) was developed to address a wide range of security, privacy, and regulatory challenges facing the healthcare industry. By including federal and state regulations, standards, and frameworks, and incorporating a risk-based approach, the HITRUST CSF helps organizations address these challenges through a comprehensive and flexible framework of prescriptive and scalable security controls.
In the context of a direct mail partner, HITrust status demonstrates that an organization’s recurring mail platform and client vault network folders have met key regulations and industry-defined requirements, and that the organization is appropriately managing any risk to client privacy.
4. HIPAA/PHI Compliance
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets the standard for securing protected health information (PHI). Any company dealing with PHI must ensure that all the required physical, network, and process security measures are in place and followed.
Look for a direct mail partner whose employees undergo annual training on HIPAA compliance, and that has established protocols and dedicated sufficient resources to ensure the confidentiality of all health information.
5. 100 Percent Match Mailing
Finally, ask about the systems a potential vendor uses to ensure items are correctly printed, sorted, and mailed. It’s critical that Jane Doe doesn’t receive John Smith’s benefits statement, or visa-versa, so you’ll want to find a vendor with 100 percent match mailing capabilities, which should include a stringent quality control process and a robust track record of accuracy.
When it comes to the privacy and security of healthcare information, the stakes couldn’t be higher, legally or ethically, and the consequences of a lapse can be devastating. So how can healthcare organizations handle this burden? One option could be to appoint one person or a small team to print, stuff, address, double check and send every piece of mail individually, but with the time-sensitivity of these communications (not to mention the need for cost containment), healthcare systems are better served by a supply chain management solution that specializes in the unique needs of healthcare communication.
At OneTouchPoint, we understand both the security stakes and the importance of personalized, trust-building communication. Our data security measures are HITrust certified, and our expertise extends to secure print production strategies. Our employees are trained annually on HIPAA requirements and provided the resources they need to ensure HIPAA standards are met for physical, network and process security. Patient names and lists are uploaded to a secure FTP site, and with 100 percent match mailing capabilities, we ensure each patient receives the correct information. In short, we specialize in helping our healthcare industry clients ensure that a patient’s protected health information (PHI) is secure so they can focus on what really matters.