Healthcare workers need convenient access to sensitive patient data to provide their life-saving services. Without it, their ability to communicate, collaborate, and diagnose would be seriously compromised.
While there are many cloud-based file sharing services that can be used to access data from anywhere, at any time, and using any device, not all of them are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which provides a set of rules to regulate how medical data is stored and shared.
This article is aimed at healthcare providers that are looking for the best HIPAA-compliant file sharing services currently available. Each of the below-described services complies with HIPAA requirements to bring the benefits of cloud-based file sharing to the healthcare sector.
How Does a File Sharing Service Become HIPAA Compliant?
HIPAA regulates how sensitive personally identifiable information related to patients, referred to as Protected Health Information (PHI) or electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI), is created, processed, accessed, and stored, among other things.
Since file sharing services that provide a service to or perform a particular function or activity for healthcare providers are directly liable for compliance with HIPAA requirements, they must implement certain security features to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI. More specifically, they need to:
- Secure data at rest: A HIPAA-compliant file sharing service must encrypt all stored data so that it can't be read and modified even by people who have physical access to the servers on which it resides.
- Secure data in transit: ePHI must remain encrypted even when in transit to prevent malicious third parties from obtaining it in a readable form using techniques like Wi-Fi eavesdropping.
- Control data access: It's critically important for a HIPAA-compliant file sharing service to implement strong data access control mechanisms like two-factor authentication and data classification to prevent unauthorized user access.
- Monitor user activity: Cybersecurity threats can come from a variety of sources, including malicious insiders. Real-time activity monitoring helps detect rogue users and stop them before they cause damage.
- Keep an audit trail: By tracking changes made to files, a HIPAA-compliant file sharing service can guarantee that no sensitive patient data has been tampered with.
Besides the implementation of these security features, a file sharing service must be willing to sign a Business Associate Agreement, a legal contract signed between a covered entity and a business associate that specifies each party's responsibilities when it comes to PHI or ePHI.
Best HIPAA-Compliant File Sharing Services
Now that we've explained what it takes for a file sharing service to become HIPAA compliant, it's time for us to look at the top 5 best services available to healthcare providers.
Our favorite HIPAA-compliant file sharing service is Microsoft SharePoint. What separates it from other services described in this article and elevates it into a league of its own is its highly flexible team-based approach to file sharing.
Essentially, SharePoint is designed to empower teams with dynamic sites that make it easy to share files, data, information, and other resources. These sites can be accessed using the SharePoint desktop app, SharePoint mobile apps, or the web-based version of SharePoint.
SharePoint offers a range of useful features for collaborating on files in real time and ensuring that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive files. Just like other Microsoft 365 apps and services, SharePoint benefits from Microsoft’s extensive cloud data security measures, so healthcare providers can be confident that their patient information is protected and secure.
Pricing: SharePoint is included in all Microsoft 365 Business plans, which start at $6 per user per month.
2. Google Drive
Another excellent HIPAA-compliant file sharing service is Google Drive, a file storage and synchronization service that's available to healthcare providers as part of Google Workspace (formerly G-Suite Business).
Because the business version of Google Drive is virtually identical to the popular version for individuals, healthcare workers are usually able to start using the service with little to no training required.
As stated on the official support page, Google is fully ready to support HIPAA compliance and provide a signed Business Associate Agreement for customers that are subject to HIPAA requirements.
Google is ISO 27001 certified and has passed both SOC2 and SOC3 audits, which is to be expected considering the company's dominant position in the global cloud market.
Pricing: Google Drive is included in all Google Workspace plans, which start at just $6 per user per month.
Accellion Kiteworks is designed from the ground up with patient privacy regulations like HIPAA, HITECH, and GDPR in mind. The service provides a unified platform that tracks, controls, and secures sensitive digital information at rest and when in transit between first and third parties.
From sending encrypted, compliant messages to hassle-free file sharing to simple and secure web forms, Kiteworks does a lot to help healthcare providers thrive, and that's one reason why its customers include the likes of NHS, Hartmann, and KPMG.
Kiteworks can be deployed on premises and as a hosted solution, and end-users can interact with it using native apps or the official Microsoft Outlook plugin.
Pricing: The Kiteworks Business package costs $15 per user per month, and a discount of 15 percent is available for annual billing.
Protected by encryption of content in transit and rest, Citrix ShareFile is a straightforward HIPAA-compliant file sharing service that provides the security, visibility, and access healthcare providers need from a single cloud-based dashboard.
ShareFile helps its users manage and track sensitive data by providing granular access control mechanisms and several ways to share files, including a polished web-based interface and plugins for Outlook and Gmail.
Healthcare providers should know that ShareFile supports multiple useful features that can save them a lot of time, including legally binding e-signatures and guided feedback and approval workflows.
Pricing: ShareFile starts at $50 per month for 5 employee users, with every additional user costing $9.90 a month. Unfortunately, the least expensive plan doesn't include the aforementioned Outlook plugin.
Tresorit is marketed as a content collaboration platform that's secured by design. Its security comes from the combination of end-to-end technology with zero-knowledge architecture, which makes it impossible for Tresorit to access its customers' data.
As a content collaboration platform, Tresorit enables healthcare providers to store, sync, and share sensitive patient information with anyone, inside and outside of their organization.
Trusted by hundreds of hospitals and healthcare professionals, in addition to thousands of companies and organizations from other industries. A free trial is available to all new users, so there's no financial risk involved with giving the service a try.
Pricing: Tresorit is a based in Europe, and its most affordable plan, Business Standard, costs €12 per user per month when billed annually.
Implement a HIPAA-Compliant File Sharing Service With BCA IT
As a healthcare provider, you can choose between multiple reputable file sharing services that comply with HIPAA requirements. The right services can not only help you avoid penalties for HIPAA violations, but, most importantly, they can improve your overall cybersecurity posture.
Knowing that healthcare data breaches of 500 or more records jumped from 199 in 2010 to 714 in 2021, we at BCA IT are eager to help healthcare providers deliver the best care to patients by equipping them with digital tools that can improve their productivity without compromising their security.
Contact us today, and let's together select and implement the best HIPAA-compliant file sharing service based on your unique needs and requirements.