Blog, Guest Commentary

E-Signatures: A Secure Prescription For Healthcare’s Paperwork Problem

Posted By: John Harris / November 30, 2015

signix_logoIn an industry burdened with file cabinet after file cabinet of documents, e-signatures offer a convenient, cost-effective solution for overcoming many of the administrative hurdles facing the healthcare industry. Patients, doctors, administrators and vendors alike are drawn to e-signatures for their convenience and ability to sign digital documents remotely from any device with an Internet connection.

Reducing turnaround time for a healthcare form with an e-signature also allows doctors to spend more time with patients and leaves support staff better equipped to handle other key tasks. Additionally, e-signatures can save healthcare providers money, significantly lowering paper-related expenses like processing, courier and shipping fees, paper, printing costs and storage. These charges may seem inconsequential, but e-signatures have been proven to save healthcare organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. That money can be shifted to other mission-critical expenses, including those that directly improve patient care.

However, some healthcare providers remain hesitant to move forward with e-signature technology due to concerns over security and compliance.

Security

Personal health information is often found within healthcare documents, making it critical to ensure any e-signature’s solution can withstand a cyber security breach. However, some are better equipped than others to do so.

Two types of e-signatures dominate the market: independent and dependent. The first provides control, longevity, transparency and security, while the other struggles to meet those benchmarks. Depending on which one you use, your personal information could be more vulnerable to an attack.

With SIGNiX’s Independent E-Signatures, the legal evidence that proves a signature’s validity is permanently embedded directly into the signed document. This means users aren’t reliant on an e-signature vendor to store the e-signature’s legal evidence, and the vendor’s copies of signed documents can be digitally shredded, leaving no trace of confidential data behind. The result: users have complete and independent control over their documents and e-signature evidence, eliminating an additional access point for cyber criminals.

The same can’t be said for dependent signatures where legal evidence is stored on a vendor’s server, leaving users fully reliant on their vendor to prove a signature’s legal validity. This allows hackers another access point for personal information. In addition, the longevity of the e-signature is affected because it is dependent upon the lifespan of the vendor relationship. If ties are cut with the vendor, or their server goes down, you might lose access to e-signature evidence.

Compliance

Security is only one piece of e-signature vigilance. Healthcare providers must be certain that their e-signature technology also supports compliance with such regulations as HIPAA and 21 CFR Part 11. Robust security inherently supports compliance, particularly with regard to independence, as described above, and identity authentication.

Although not specified in HIPAA, SIGNiX’s technology provides multi-factor authentication. Along with other methods, this ensures the right person is viewing and signing the appropriate documents and doing so according to their privileges.

When using e-signatures in a compliant manner, ensuring vendors themselves operate within a distinct culture of compliance is critically important. This culture is something that SIGNiX and MediTract share, as our technologies are specifically designed to operate within highly regulated industries, like healthcare.

SIGNiX and Healthcare

Since SIGNiX’s founding over 13 years ago, our technology has been built with a focus on security, standards and meeting industry regulations—even before the healthcare industry adopted e-signatures for mission-critical transactions. We also partner with healthcare providers to specifically gauge how they’re using e-signatures so that we can customize our solutions to fit their specific compliance and security needs—such as using tamper-proof signatures instead of tamper-evident ones.

 

About the Author: John Harris

John Harris

John Harris is the senior vice president of product management at SIGNiX, an Independent E-Signature solutions provider that makes signing documents online safe, secure and legal for any business. SIGNiX offers an independently verifiable cloud-based digital signature solution, which combines workflow convenience with superior security.