Email archiving is an automated mechanism use to store and secure both inbound as well as outbound email message so that those emails can be retrieved later. In other words, it means that email archiving stores emails and make them easily searchable later on. The HIPAA language specifications for email archiving are unclear and uncertain. It is not written anywhere in HIPAA guidelines about how to achieve email archiving and it is not clear about how to do it.
HIPAA specifies what the agencies involved need to do to ensure compliance, but does not include clear instructions on how to do so. Email archiving is not expressly stated in any of the regulations.
Although when you will read carefully about the HIPAA security rule then you will find about email archiving where CE and BA are required to keep electronic PHI of an individual safe and secure, however that only requires the date and not the message itself.
How does email archiving work?
Email archiving makes sure that all email should be encrypted during export, storage and retrieval to protect the integrity of PHI and avoid "man-in-the-medium" attacks. As archived emails cannot be changed or removed, they are also tamper-proof. Service providers are responsible to implement policies and procedures that enforce strict controls over who can have access to archived emails. Auditing controls must also be placed in place in order to comply with the administrative safeguards of the HIPAA Security Rules.
After the email archiving is done, only those who have been authorized can search for and retrieve emails as necessary in order to extract ePHI of an individual.
Benefits of email archiving
Ease storage management: - It reduces your server load.
Compliance and E-discovery:- While only email logs are needed for HIPAA compliance, you may take an extra step to maintain the actual message and attachments. If there is ever a confusion over data protection, archiving makes it easier to locate and deliver the necessary emails.
Conclusion Email archiving is very simply as well as an easy task to do for healthcare organizations who wants to protect themselves from PHI breaches and meet HIPAA guidelines.