Home Clean Living Manage patient communications in a HIPAA-compliant manner with Google Workspace

Manage patient communications in a HIPAA-compliant manner with Google Workspace

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July 11, 2022

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Source/Disclosures


Disclosures:
Franko reports being the owner and founder of SurgiSurvey LLC.


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Google Workspace may provide medical offices with a way to manage daily communications throughout the organization and with patients in a HIPAA-compliant manner.

“Google Workspace is the name that Google gives to many of the services you already use with Google, such as Gmail, calendar, slides or presentations, and spreadsheets, but it is built for business,” Orrin I. Franko, MD, founder of SurgiSurvey LLC and a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at East Bay Hand Medical Center, told Healio. “It is something that can be used by medical offices because it is also HIPAA compliant. In that sense, you can use what you would consider to be typical Gmail or Google calendar, but in a HIPAA-compliant manner designed for business, giving you a bit more control over other users in your organization and the security of your data.”

Franko noted small medical offices may have a difficult time with patient communications

because a patient portal is not linked to an electronic medical record database, and it is not easy to manage patient communications in a HIPAA-compliant manner. However, Google will sign a business-associated agreement with practices that allows Google App Suite to be used for patient communication and information that follows HIPAA compliance, according to Franko. He said his practice has used Google Workspace when patients want to send a picture of a wound or a rash that they have prior to their appointment.

“We also use the Google spreadsheet function for timesheets in the office and for keeping track of some billing and coding components,” Franko said. “We also utilize the chat feature so that interoffice communication can be more efficient and different providers and receptionists can communicate using the chat feature within Gmail itself. In our office, this has been extremely helpful.”

Although Google applications used by the public are free, Franko noted a small cost is associated with Google Workspace.

“For the services it provides, there is no question that it improves a significant amount of efficiency and improves the patient experience, as well as the provider experience,” he said.

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