Is RingCentral Fax HIPAA Compliant?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services such as RingCentral offer business communications services, with many businesses in the healthcare field wondering about how to obtain HIPAA compliant fax services. HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, sets forth certain requirements for organizations that provide healthcare services or serve as contractors for healthcare provider organizations. Because of the secure nature of healthcare patient data, HIPAA restricts how patient information is used and helps to protect patients by keeping their data secure and restricted.

  • Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI)—This is information specifically protected by HIPAA. RingCentral’s phone service offers a HIPAA compliant option that helps to protect this information, although subscribers are expected to not use the service to transmit ePHI. Customer messages, voicemails and other messages are encrypted and then deleted after 30 days by the system in order to maintain compliance. You cannot, however, use RingCentral’s fax system to send ePHI.

In this article, we will talk more about RingCentral’s phone service and explain which parts of it are HIPAA compliant, so you can make an informed decision about HIPAA compliant fax services and so you can find the business communications system that is best for your organization.

As it turns out, RingCentral’s fax system may not be fully compliant with HIPAA if you plan to send protected patient health information, so you should do your own due diligence to find out how to stay completely compliant. We will discuss ways you can stay compliant with HIPAA while using RingCentral’s phone services for your business, but you should exercise due diligence and consult professional advice, as necessary, to find the right solution for your situation.

Article Contents:

  • How Does RingCentral’s Fax System Work?
  • How Can RingCentral’s HIPAA Compliant Fax System Help My Business?
  • Getting Started with RingCentral’s HIPAA Compliant Fax System

Benefits of HIPAA Compliant Phone Systems and Faxing:

  • Simplifies Company Compliance—At your organization, company or healthcare practice, using compliant fax services can help you maintain compliance effectively. While you are still yourself responsible for making sure your business is fully compliant with HIPAA, having a compliant vendor you use can significantly simplify the process of becoming compliant and staying that way. This can make it easier to run your business, so it is worthwhile to find a complaint service.
  • Keeps You Compliant—Since violating HIPAA can have severe penalties and potentially harm your business, it is important to stay compliant with HIPAA in your business operations by choosing compliant vendors.
  • Easy and Convenient—VoIP fax systems can be easier and more convenient to use than traditional fax systems. Traditional fax relies on landline service, which has significant limitations and relies on costly infrastructure and equipment to operate.

1. How Does RingCentral’s Fax System Work?

RingCentral is a VoIP provider, which means their telephone service works differently from traditional phones. Consequently, their fax service works differently, too. VoIP service uses the Internet to send phone communications instead of using copper telephone wires like traditional phone systems do. RingCentral faxes are sent via the Internet and do not rely on a traditional landline phone. As such, they do not require a traditional fax machine and can be sent via email and accessed online.

This type of fax system is significantly more portable. VoIP faxes can be accessed on-the-go and sent while away from the office. This does make VoIP fax systems more convenient and easier to use, but it can also create challenges for businesses that want to stay compliant with HIPAA. RingCentral’s fax services may not be fully compliant with HIPAA, if you use them to communicate private patient information that is protected by HIPAA’s provisions. So you would need to make sure that you are using RingCentral’s fax system correctly and not relying on it for the incorrect uses. This may mean that you need to use a different fax service, or it may mean adjusting how you use your fax system in order to stay HIPAA compliant. Keep in mind, though, that this does not mean that RingCentral’s phone system interferes with your HIPAA compliance in other aspects of your business. If your business is already HIPAA compliant, RingCentral’s service does not necessarily impact your compliance status.

2. How Can RingCentral’s HIPAA Compliant Phone System Help My Business?

RingCentral’s HIPAA compliant phone service is not intended for subscribers to use to transmit private patient health information, although the service does offer an encrypt setting that adds additional security for patient calls and automatically deletes content after a period of 30 days in order to stay in compliance. This system properly stores messages according to HIPAA and helps protect patient information and identities. It may help prevent hacking and accidental leakage of the information.

If your business is in healthcare and you need a VoIP phone system for your organization, then considering a HIPAA compliant system from RingCentral makes sense. You can boost the security of your data, improve your compliance and access the advanced features and functionality of a VoIP business communications system. These features may make it worthwhile for you to invest in a VoIP phone system. Compared with traditional landline phone systems, you can gain access to more effective and cheaper services thanks to the power of VoIP technology. VoIP can help your business save money and actually get more done. With a HIPAA compliant phone app, you can encrypt calls to and from your smartphone for added security and HIPAA compliance.

3. Getting Started with RingCentral’s HIPAA Compliant Phone System

RingCentral directly provides guidance with setting up and implementing business communications systems from their company. Your organization can get individual guidance and can set up and activate HIPAA compliant tools quickly. You can sign up with RingCentral and ask them questions to help you get set up so you can quickly begin using the toolkits they offer, such as an app for smartphones, a HIPAA compliance conduit that works by allowing you to encrypt everything in a central location, plus automatic deletion of data after a particular period of time.

If you choose to activate the HIPAA compliant system, then the following applies:

  • Message Deletion–Messages are automatically deleted after 30 days.
  • Voicemail-to-Email is Disabled—Voicemail-to-email functions are disabled and your messages are no longer forwarded automatically to email.
  • Automatic Log-Out—You are timed out of the session automatically if you leave the system inactive for a certain period of time.
  • Encryption—You start encrypting your messages automatically, so every message is encrypted completely for security reasons.
  • SMS is Disabled—SMS is disabled on HIPAA compliant settings. So, you cannot use the traditional business SMS setting in a HIPAA compliant situation.

These settings are something to keep in mind if you are considering a HIPAA compliant system. It can cause you to lose certain features, plus storage rules for messages are changed with the HIPAA compliant system. If you do not want these settings, you may need to adjust how you use your phone system or have an alternative in place for when you need to use your business communications system but you also need to transmit ePHI. Protected data has certain rules, so you need to be careful and also do your own due diligence.

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