Healthcare facilities are subject to strict laws when it comes to keeping patient data safe and secure, and that includes any content sent by email. Find out how to secure your emails audit-proof, legally compliant and permanently available.
In the healthcare sector – especially in hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and care homes – communication by email plays a crucial role. In many areas, email has long since replaced the post office and the fax machine as the most important channel for written communication.
As emails can contain highly sensitive data on patients and their treatments (such data are deemed worthy of particular care and attention under Art. 9 of the EU’s GDPR), healthcare facilities must satisfy extremely strict data processing requirements. Data like these may be processed only for a specific purpose and stored only for as long as that specific purpose requires. Moreover, the data may be stored, processed and transmitted only with the explicit consent of the patient. Other articles in the GDPR grant every EU citizen (the “data subject”) certain rights. They include rights of access (Art. 15), erasure (Art. 17), data portability (Art. 20), and objection (Art. 21). Hospitals, doctors’ surgeries, care homes and other healthcare facilities involved must comply with a request from a data subject the moment a patient asserts his or her right.
In addition to protecting personal data, legal requirements usually also exist with regard to the storage or retention of business-critical data such as contracts, receipts, invoices and correspondence sent and received electronically by email. Although the form such regulations take may vary from country to country, companies within the healthcare sector are generally always obliged to comply with them.
Failure to observe these requirements can have serious legal consequences; in addition to fines and a loss of reputation, breaches can result in civil lawsuits.
Email archiving is the process of systematically storing and categorizing emails and email attachments to ensure their integrity and accessibility, thus allowing them to be organized, searched through, and stored effectively in the long term.
A professional email archiving solution means that all relevant emails and attachments can be retained in a manner that will comply with any audit. This includes invoices, contracts and any other documents created during a period of medical care. Journaling, in conjunction with specific encryption mechanisms, help prevent data from being lost or manipulated. Definable retention policies allow the retention periods of emails containing patient data in the archive to be adjusted to fit the legal requirements.
Privileges (access rights) that can be configured on an individual basis ensure that only authorized persons can ever access the archived emails. Thus, specific user groups such as IT administrators, compliance officers and external auditors are able to access the entire archive and browse it using a full-text search function. If required, relevant data can be exported in standard formats. These functions provide a healthcare facility with support not only during a company audit, but also in the event that a data subject decides to assert his or her rights under the GDPR.
In summary, it can be said that email archiving offers a wide range of benefits for healthcare facilities. Not only does it engender compliance with legal requirements and a high degree of data security, it also makes it easier to search for and access relevant information. Medical staff can call up data on a patient’s history quickly and simply from the archive, information that may be relevant to the treatment of other patients or the processing of an insurance claim. Efficient email management ensures smooth workflows, reduces the workload for medical staff, and also produces a high standard of medical care.
MailStore Server is a useful addition to the IT and security strategy of healthcare facilities. Our software comes with a variety of functions to support the legally compliant retention of emails, while also ensuring GDPR conformity when used appropriately. This protects you from exposure to legal risks. Ideally, backups and email archiving should be used in tandem as complementary solutions.
MailStore Server has been the leading email archiving solution for hospitals, doctors’ surgeries, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities for many years. It is simple to set up, can be installed in a few minutes, fits seamlessly into existing infrastructures, and is compatible with the usual email systems. Concentrate on your core tasks, and let our software take care of legal compliance while providing comprehensive security for all your patient data.
Get started today with our free 30-day trial and see the benefits for yourself.