There will be substantial penalties on doctors for sending e-mails that include patient information without encrypting the e-mail, according to a new law that took effect in February.
Sending such e-mails is something which a doctor does every day. With the law enforces, a doctor who answers a patient's e-mail asking for medical advice without encryption is breaking the law. The doctor is potentially subject to penalties and fines can go as high as $1.5 million in a single year.
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health also known as HITECH Act is not known to many medical professionals. The law states that answering a patient's request for a test result, by unsecured e-mail, is a violation as also updating a patient's status. Sending critical health-related information even during an emergency medical situation is considered a violation of the law.
A free solution to the new law's requirements has been developed by Greg Hill, M.D; a Philadelphia family practitioner. JumbleMe is free software that encrypts e-mails and other electronically transferred information. Compliant with the new law, JumbleMe protects electronic information from fines that could prove disastrous for medical operations. E-mails and attachments which are sent through the Internet or via smartphones are encrypted by JumbleMe.
A number of features are provided by JumbleMe to ensure the confidentiality of e-mails. Medical professionals are able to encrypt e-mail via a password, with only the intended recipient able to read the message. The enhanced features of JumbleMe include setting a limit on the number of times e-mail can be read and ability to set an expiration date. All HIPAA and HITECH Act requirements are met by JumbleMe so that e-mails and the medical professionals who send them are protected.
Dr. Hill, who is offering the software free to all medical practitioners, said that as a doctor, he was just giving back to all his peers. He added that as this law impacts everyone in the medical field, finding a solution that helps all the doctors seemed the right thing to do.
The standard JumbleMe software is available for free. To see a demonstration and sign up for free service, visit JumbleMe.com.
Calvin Azuri is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Calvin's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Alice Straight