Nurse explaining medical information to an older woman

Nurse explaining medical information to an older womanIs Google Workspace HIPAA Compliant? 

Privacy and security in healthcare have become a top priority, especially with the rise and expansion of personal information across the internet. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets the standards for protecting personal identification and information in the United States.

Many healthcare organizations rely on cloud-based tools like Google Workspace for their daily operations because it’s easy and efficient. It’s important to understand if it’s HIPAA compliant or not. 

So, is Google Workspace HIPAA Compliant? Keep reading to find out. 

Understanding Google Workspace HIPAA Compliance

Google Workspace is a suite of cloud-based productivity tools that includes Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, and more. To determine if Google Workspace is HIPAA compliant, examining its adherence to specific regulations outlined in the HIPAA legislation is crucial.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule

The privacy rule is set to establish national standards for protecting individually identifiable health information. Google Workspace remains in compliance by implementing strict privacy controls and data access restrictions. 

The HIPAA Security Rule 

The security rule includes encryption of information in transit and at rest. Google Workspace provides this and administrative controls that allow organizations to manage user access, implement password policies, and enforce data-sharing permissions. 

HIPAA Unique Identifiers Rule

The HIPAA Unique Identifiers Rule establishes standard identifiers for healthcare providers, health plans, and employers. While Google Workspace does not directly handle unique identifiers, it provides a secure environment where organizations can manage and store this information alongside other patient data.

HIPAA Transactions and Code Set Rule 

The Transactions rule enforces standards set for electronic transactions and medical code sets. Again, Google Workspace is not directly involved in these transactions but can act as a secure exchange for healthcare-related information. 

HIPAA Enforcement Rule

The HIPAA Enforcement Rule outlines the procedures and penalties for non-compliance with HIPAA regulations. 

What is a Business Associate Agreement (BAA)? 

One way that Google Workspace helps maintain HIPAA compliance is through a BAA. This is a legal contract that outlines the expectations of both parties regarding the protection and use of ePHI. Google will sign a BAA for all eligible customers who use Google Workspace for this purpose. 

How to Make Google Workspace HIPAA Compliant? 

If you’re concerned about the security and safety of Google Workspace, there are a few things you can do to enhance HIPAA compliance. 

1. Two Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to accounts by requiring the user to verify a second form of identification. This can include a unique code sent to a mobile device or email address.

2. Turn on Security Alerts

Google Workspace provides security alerts that notify administrators of potential security breaches or suspicious activities. By enabling these alerts, organizations can proactively respond to any security incidents and mitigate potential risks promptly.

3. Turn off Unused Services

Google Workspace provides many services that may not apply to your healthcare organization. Keep in mind that this just creates more opportunities for data breaches so disable anything you’re not using. 

4. Ensure Maximum Security with Passwords

Strong passwords play a crucial role in protecting user accounts and preventing unauthorized access. Healthcare organizations using Google Workspace should enforce password policies that require users to create complex passwords and change them periodically.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Google Workspace plan is HIPAA compliant?

According to Google, all of their plans are HIPAA Compliant but the BAA only covers certain business and enterprise-level plans. 

Is Google Workspace email HIPAA compliant?

Yes, you can send HIPAA-compliant emails with Google Workspace because of their encryption, BAA, and data loss prevention policies. 

Are Google Workspace add-ons HIPAA compliant?

Google does not come out and say that their add-ons are HIPAA compliant so you’ll want to tread carefully here. Practice smart policies when using all Google services. 

Is Google Workspace HIPAA Compliant? Final Thoughts

Google Workspace offers plenty of robust security features that support HIPAA compliance. It’s essential to understand that compliance often comes down to the responsibility of the organization itself. Google Workspace will provide you with a strong foundation but it’s up to you to implement and enforce these policies. 

By following the guidelines outlined in this article, such as enabling two-factor authentication, turning on security alerts, disabling unused services, and enforcing strong password policies, healthcare organizations can maximize the security of patient data within the Google Workspace environment.

If you’re concerned about your organization’s digital security and HIPAA compliance, gain a superior level of Managed IT Services. Our headquarters are based in San Antonio, Texas and we serve healthcare companies nationally. From the east coast to the west coast and everything in between, our experienced team at Juern Technology will ensure your patient’s privacy!