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Privacy of communications: faxes are not usually HIPAA compliant. An editorial perspective


Journal of Psychology & Clinical Psychiatry
Vernon M Neppe MD, PhD, FRSSAf, DFAPA,1,2,3 Ed Gerck PhD,

Abstract

Privacy of medical and psychological information is of extraordinary importance. In the USA, it is regulated by HIPAA laws. The most common method of communication between health care and mental health practitioners is via faxes. Faxes have changed from the ‘paper fax’ to electronic faxes (‘modern faxes’). There are advantages but numerous potential problems in ensuring compliance with HIPAA. This is even more so when recognizing that faxes are often delivered electronically to emails (electronic mails) which have traditionally been regarded as not complying with HIPAA. Solutions are suggested. The most obvious is delivery of private medical and psychological information by HIPAA compliant secure email. The various options are briefly outlined. Based on direct comparisons, the most logical is to use one that is usable and secure. The ZSentry technology which preceded the well-known blockchain technology fits that requirement because of the secure encryption, date and time stamps and user authentications.

Keywords

authentication, compliance, email, fax, HIPAA, ‘modern fax’, ‘paper fax’, privacy, secure electronic mail, security, usability

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