Why is email archiving important in healthcare?

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In highly regulated industries like healthcare, email archiving plays a key role in keeping electronic data secure. 

Keep reading to learn more about what email archiving is and why it’s important for covered entities. Plus, find out how using a HIPAA compliant email provider can add an extra layer of protection.

What is email archiving?

Email archiving is the automated process of securely storing and preserving inbound and outbound emails. The purpose is to make emails easily retrievable and searchable, which ultimately allows companies to run their operations more efficiently. 

Keep in mind that email archiving is not the same as simply backing up data in emails. The difference is that data backups do not enable the searching of individual emails. As a result, locating a specific email can end up taking weeks to accomplish.

Is email archiving required for HIPAA compliance?

Email archiving is not explicitly mentioned anywhere in HIPAA regulations. However, the HIPAA Security Rule does require covered entities to retain past communications containing PHI for at least six years. 

During this time, “access and audit controls must be implemented to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information (ePHI).” Since these guidelines apply to all types of electronic data, email is included. 

Retaining PHI can be challenging. This is especially true for larger organizations and those that send and receive a significant amount of emails. Archiving encrypted emails can serve as a reliable solution here. 

How to archive emails securely

All businesses that provide email archiving services are considered business associates. Therefore, they are required to comply with the HIPAA Security Rule by putting certain security protocols in place.

Specifically, all data that is sent to the archive will be protected with end-to-end encryption. This prevents emails from being intercepted in transit. Since the archived emails cannot be altered in any way, they are also tamper-proof.

Email archiving providers must also set strict controls that limit access to archived emails. Only authorized individuals should be able to retrieve these emails for legitimate business needs. 

Email archiving benefits

First, email archiving makes storage management more seamless by reducing the load on company servers. It also promotes business continuity, as IT teams won’t have to spend a significant amount of time locating lost emails.

In addition, covered entities can readily access emails in response to audit requests for electronic discovery (eDiscovery) purposes. This is when electronic information is needed for use in a court case. 

Since data is stored separately on service providers’ servers, email archiving can play a part in a healthcare organization’s disaster recovery plan. If a cyberattack occurs and impacts email data, emails and attachments can be quickly recovered from the archive.

Boost email security with Paubox

Email archiving is a smart way for covered entities to safeguard sensitive data and comply with HIPAA requirements, but using the right HIPAA compliant email service can take your email security strategy to the next level. 

In addition to offering email archiving through our Premium plan, Paubox Email Suite enables HIPAA compliant email by default and automatically encrypts every outbound message. This means you don’t have to spend time deciding which emails to encrypt and your patients are able to receive your messages right in their inbox—no additional passwords or portals necessary.

Our Plus and Premium plan levels also include robust inbound email security tools that block malicious cyberattacks from reaching the inbox in the first place.

Try Paubox for free

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About the author

Sara Uzer

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