(Reviewed and updated May 18, 2016)
Recently, we've shared our suggestions on how to share patient files securely and the best ways to take medical photos. From those posts, an additional question came up from our readers who are using technology but still trying to stay HIPAA secure...
How do I send medical photos securely over the internet?
Good question! Many of the tactics for staying HIPAA-safe while sending medical photos over the internet came up in our recent posts, but there are a couple of specific things to keep in mind.
When sending medical photos on the internet, don't make these HIPAA mistakes:
- Texting from your phone. As with texting patient information, you can't text photos unless you use a secure service. Merely texting from your smartphone definitely won't do the trick when it comes to HIPAA, even if it's just a patient photo (without their record.)
- Saving photos on your camera roll. Few people realize that the camera roll on your smartphone is not HIPAA-secure. ClickCare uses a HIPAA-secure camera roll for that very reason.
- Sending photos via email. Email isn't HIPAA-secure, even "secure" email. If you're looking for the kind of sharing that email and photos can give you, consider doing medical collaboration with a hybrid store-and-forward telemedicine platform, which can let you share photos while not running afoul of HIPAA.
- Leaving them on your data card. A final thing to be careful of is the data card in your digital camera. If you store your data card in a place where people can get to it, or you're sharing your camera with other people, that data card is not HIPAA secure. The system we recommend is to erase the data card as soon as you've uploaded your photo to the secure sharing platform you're using.
- Saving them on your hard drive. As safe as it may seem, in most contexts it is not HIPAA-compliant to leave patient photos on your computer's hard drive. So use the same protocol as with a data card -- erase the photos as soon as they're uploaded to your telemedicine platform. Did you know your copier also has a hard drive - the old way may not be so safe either!
For an in-depth look at HIPAA mistakes you might not know about, get our guide:
Image courtesy of ben_grey on flickr.com, used under Creative Commons rights.