Health care entities and providers use video conferencing to improve efficiency and reduce travel costs
for both themselves and their patients. Consultations held as online meetings between providers, or between providers and
patients, afford privacy, security and real-time
interaction, without the inconvenience of traveling or waiting.
Wherever healthcare and technology overlap, questions about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
inevitably arise. Title II of HIPAA deals with the privacy and security of electronic healthcare transactions and sets out criteria
In short, Nefsis is not a health-related business or a “covered entity”
under HIPAA, nor is it a “business associate” of a covered entity under the Health Information Technology for Economic
and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act). Covered entities and their business associates may securely and privately use Nefsis in
healthcare-related video conferences. While control over the selection of content shared by users in an online meeting rests with
those covered entities and business associates, Nefsis provides the capabilities to help them comply with HIPAA.
Overview of HIPAA
Title II of HIPAA includes five rules of “Administrative Simplification” for making healthcare more efficient and medical
information more accessible, and two of them — the Privacy Rule and the Security Rule — relate to electronic data communication.
HIPAA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) define the
“covered entities” to which these rules apply: health plans;
health care clearinghouses, such as billing services and community health information systems; and health care providers
that transmit health care data in electronic form.
Since Nefsis does not fall into any of these categories,
it is not a covered entity under HIPAA.
How HIPAA relates to video conferencing
The Privacy Rule governs the ways in which information about a patient’s health status, treatment
and payment is used and disclosed. The rule applies to covered entities — not to providers of video conferencing
services — and requires covered entities, among other things, to take reasonable steps to ensure confidentiality in
communicating this information.
The Security Rule sets out standards for keeping Electronic Protected Health Information (EPHI) safe.
Of note is its Technical Safeguards provision, setting rules for access to computers and the secure communication of EPHI
over public networks to protect it from interception by anyone other than the intended recipient.
Again, compliance with these safeguards rests squarely with the covered entities who, under 45CFR164.312,
must “implement technical security measures to guard against unauthorized access to electronic protected
health information that is being transmitted over an electronic communications network.” As they relate
to video conferencing, these measures include “a mechanism to authenticate EPHI,” “a mechanism
to encrypt and decrypt EPHI,” and “policies and procedures to protect EPHI from improper alteration
Authentication is the process of verifying that an entity — user, administrator, conference participant,
computer, conference server — is who or what it claims to be.
Nefsis lets conference hosts create secure conferencing
with conference room passwords. Nefsis also provides an authentication option to dial out to participants, instead
of their dialing-in for the audio portion of the conference. In addition, Conference hosts visually recognize
and can check every meeting participant, whether or not they have enabled their video feed, and can expel any
participant at any point in the conference.
Encryption keeps the video conference private and prevents eavesdropping.
secure settings require an SSL3-/TLS-encrypted connection for
all users prior to joining a conference. In addition,
connections are encrypted from end to end, including all
participants and the conferencing server. Nefsis also sends all
conference content (live data sharing, presentations, Voice over
Internet Protocol and video) over secured TCP/IP connections. Nefsis
secures the video conference and helps covered entities comply with
HIPAA, with no noticeable effect on video quality.
A third measure relates to securing access to and preserving the integrity of EPHI.
Nefsis gives users the option of storing conference
content that could be regarded as EPHI. Covered entities choosing to save conferences for inclusion as
EPHI may safely record Nefsis content to their own HIPAA-ready electronic health record (EHR) system. Nefsis
also provides an option to save conference presentation material on Nefsis servers. However, by deselecting
this feature no conference data will be saved. In this case, covered entities need not worry about compliance
with guidelines relating to the storage and archival of medical information.
Since a company providing video conferencing services, like Nefsis, is not a covered entity or a business associate of a covered
entity under HIPAA, there are no particular rules to observe. Nevertheless, Nefsis helps these entities maintain HIPAA compliance by
providing a superior level of security for online meetings.
With its high standards of authentication and encryption, Nefsis exceeds the Technical Safeguards of HIPAA’s Security Rule. As for
guidelines on the integrity of health information: covered entities may safely store Nefsis conference content in any HIPAA-ready EHR system.
here to schedule a live
demo and see Nefsis over the web. You can also contact us with any
questions you may have regarding HIPAA and secure video conferencing.
More about security — More details about SSL, TLS,
certificates and multi-layer security
How Nefsis works —
Multi-core concurrency and advanced video conferencing technology
Dedicated server option —
an on-premise option for more access, routing and IT controls