G Suite – Collaboration Software for Healthcare

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G Suite provides the capability to serve patients quickly and share information seamlessly while maintaining the high standards set in HIPAA. Healthcare service providers strive to work efficiently and they have often seen the benefits of the cloud and how it can ease their IT workloads. But they have two main headaches; HIPAA compliance and migration.

Migration is not as much of an issue since the long-term savings are clear and Google offers convenient transition options. HIPAA compliance was always a reason to ignore the cloud until Google started signing the Business Associate Agreement (BAA) which paves a way for organisations to use G Suite for healthcare without getting hit with those big HIPAA violation fines.

 

The benefits of G Suite for Healthcare include:

  1. Secure access to patient information while enforcing HIPAA compliance

  2. Fast, efficient service to patients

  3. Creating a central information hub for better access and updating

  4. Enhanced collaboration and consistency

  5. Easier training and onboarding

Secure access to patient information while enforcing HIPAA compliance

 

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Since Google is a business associate which will handle identifiable patient information, it signs a BAA. Part of the implementation involves ensuring that no third-party apps in the G Suite marketplace are also used with the account.

Healthcare organizations need to do much more than signing the BAA with Google in order to be HIPAA compliant. One of the most important responsibilities is training their staff members regarding best practices.  Beyond that, organizations need to be vigilant about the applications installed on any of their devices that may access patient data.

Some of the ways G Suite ensures healthcare data security include:

Encryption

One of the hallmarks of data security on G Suite is data encryption. This helps ensure third parties cannot intercept communications and steal data.

Prevention of accidental data deletion

Healthcare practitioners fear losing patient data even accidentally. G Suite helps secure that data and allows admins to restrict access privileges to view, edit, and comment.

Creating access tracking and restrictions

Admins can find out who is accessing what in the organization.  Audit logs and data access logs let them know which employees are using and sharing specific data. The admins can edit permissions as well as restrictions.

 

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Device management

Securing information across devices is an important part of ensuring compliance. Devices can be set to delete local data when users log off to ensure data remains secure even if devices get lost or stolen. Also, members of staff can be allowed to access work repositories only when using specific internet connections.

Optical character recognition

Google’s optical character recognition scans the content of communication by staff to filter out certain types of information. This helps prevent inadvertent or intentional sharing of privileged information with unauthorized parties.

Setting up G Suite well can ensure robust security and privacy protection for staffers, patients, and business partners.

 

Fast, efficient service to patients

 

When patients fill out their information at reception, Google Sheets records their data and can automatically allocate their case to the right department based on the data. Google also provides better uptime compared to most options, and they do it at a lower cost.

This is helpful because it enables health professionals to deliver personalized services from the first instance. The patients can also record their feedback on their way out and this helps the institution to make changes to its systems for better service.

 

Collecting information

Hospitals can collect patient intake information when they visit using Google Forms. The information can then be sent to the relevant sections on Sheets using set parameters.

A word of caution here though; it is important for admins to set identifiers that do not give away information about patients. Setting numerical or indexed codes to identify patients is safer than naming files with patient names.

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Access to information

When the data from forms is saved in Sheets, doctors and nurses can record other relevant information and add notes. Admins should set the accessibility to information according to the principle of least privilege.

Least privilege means allowing access only to staffers who must access that information for them to carry out their duties successfully. In this way, healthcare facilities can set up HIPAA compliant facilities to store information and employees can access these files depending on their roles.

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Create a central hub for documents for better access and updating

 

G Suite allows healthcare institutions to keep all important files in easily accessible formats. The Google Sites intranet portal can integrate Gmail, Calendar, Sites and Drive in one place. One of the gains of such systems is that companies can ensure that each staff member will find the information when they need it.

When using Teams, staff members can key in information to team documents and the rest of the members will see it in real time. This ensures that they can deliver the best care by getting access to relevant information without needing to make calls.

Such centralized access to information is also beneficial when health professionals attend to patients outside of the office. Doctors and nurses still get access to as much information as they would have at the hospital and this can boost their service delivery.

Information like diagnoses, charts, test results, patient histories, and treatment is easily accessible because of the minimalist and intuitive design of Drive. It enables better coordination among staff members handling such cases. They can also update this information remotely if they are making multiple visits, and the changes will be saved at the organizational level in real time.

 

Enhanced collaboration and consistency

 

Hospitals have long grappled with instances like nurses texting doctors or vice versa with patient information. Why? Because it is in violation of HIPAA. Yet, circumstances mean that not all team members will be in the same room always, especially in hospitals. The remedy is G Suite because doctors or nurses have access to the necessary patient information in their accounts.

 

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Sometimes, staffers may not have time to input all data at work and they do it at home. The information that they add or change will still be visible to all team members and saved securely in the cloud.

Nurses can also use G Suite’s Hangouts rather than text messages. They can communicate with doctors and other coworkers in a secure environment that does not put patient information at risk. This enables seamless, secure, and collaborative patient care.

 

Easier training and onboarding

 

Healthcare professionals tend to work in shifts, so training can be a challenge. Some training can be uploaded to Drive and human resources can see if the members have accessed it. This saves costs and optimizes time.

Onboarding is also easier. New employees can get access to all team files in one place. This makes their integration into the organization more seamless. Nurses can even find patient plans and see their schedules without the need to sit down for intensive orientation sessions.

Conclusion

 

The benefits of G Suite in healthcare are many and they can be applied to individual cases, whether it is patient care, drug manufacturing, or conducting trials. The wide scope of the medical field means varied IT challenges, all of which G Suite can help with.

 

A G Suite trusted partner since 2014. More than 750 plus clients have migrated to the G Suite platform, and we continue to support them.  Click here to request a 30-minute meeting with us.

Nisha Rajpurohit