Ensuring HIPAA compliance is crucial for any healthcare business that handles sensitive patient information. Failing to use HIPAA-compliant services, such as email, can result in severe consequences, including hefty fines and legal repercussions.

If you use Google Workspace, it’s important to be aware of the Big Tech giant’s limitations when it comes to HIPAA compliance and what that could mean for you and your business.

This article explores those limitations and alternatives you might consider to keep your business — and clients — safe, secure, and private.

The limitations of Google Workspace encryption for HIPAA compliance

The most concerning limitation of Google Workspace is its lack of end-to-end encryption (E2EE) and zero-access encryption. E2EE ensures emails are encrypted on the sender’s device and can only be decrypted by the recipient. Without E2EE, emails are encrypted only while in transit between devices and can be decrypted on Google’s servers. 

Zero-access encryption means that all emails stored on the servers are protected with the user’s encryption keys so that they can’t be accessed even in the event of a data breach. This is a way to protect all data, even emails sent from providers that don’t use PGP. 

Google’s limited encryption means that data stored on its servers is not fully protected. Google can access this data, and it could be exposed in a data breach. This poses significant risks to the privacy of personal health information (PHI). Exposure of PHI could lead to severe consequences, including hefty fines for non-compliance with HIPAA regulations.

What if you violate HIPAA? 

Failing to comply with HIPAA regulations carries severe consequences

Financially, organizations can face hefty fines ranging from $100 to $50,000 per violation, with annual maximums reaching up to $1.5 million. 

Reputational damage from a HIPAA violation can erode patient trust and harm the organization’s standing in the healthcare community. Moreover, serious violations can result in criminal charges, leading to potential imprisonment for individuals involved. In some cases, non-compliance can also jeopardize licensing, threatening the organization’s ability to operate. 

Given these high stakes, relying on a service like Google Workspace, which requires extensive customization and ongoing vigilance to maintain compliance, poses significant risks.

Choose a workspace that makes HIPAA compliance easy

Proton Mail offers a straightforward, secure solution designed with privacy and compliance in mind. Here’s why Proton Mail is the better choice for healthcare organizations.

End-to-end and zero-access encryption

Proton Mail’s default end-to-end encryption ensures that only the intended recipients can read your emails, safeguarding PHI throughout its lifecycle. This makes protecting health information easy without needing additional steps or third-party tools. With zero-access encryption, not even Proton can access your emails. This ensures maximum privacy and security, giving healthcare providers peace of mind that sensitive patient data is fully protected.

Comprehensive BAA coverage

Proton Mail offers a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) to all users, covering all its services. This eliminates the risk of using non-compliant tools and ensures your organization meets all HIPAA requirements.

User-friendly interface

Proton Mail’s intuitive design makes it easy for administrators and staff to use without extensive configuration. This reduces the risk of errors and helps teams work quickly and securely. Plus, Proton Mail supports integration with popular desktop clients like Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, and Mozilla Thunderbird, in addition to our desktop apps.

Backed by strong privacy legislation

Based in Switzerland, Proton Mail benefits from some of the world’s strongest privacy laws. Proton Mail’s commitment to privacy is well-established, making it a trusted choice for healthcare organizations.

Accessibility on all devices

Proton Mail offers web and mobile apps, ensuring your team can access their encrypted emails anywhere. Whether at a desk or on the go, Proton Mail provides seamless access to secure communications.

Advanced administrative control

The admin panel is your control center to manage user accounts, add storage, and audit users — all from one location. If an employee’s account is compromised, administrators can quickly reset passwords and log out of all active sessions to keep the network safe.

Easy to organize

With customizable filters and organization tools, Proton Mail helps keep your documents and patient records within easy reach. Sort messages into folders and label them automatically based on sender, recipient, or content.

Dedicated support

Proton for Business customers get priority support from our expert team. From setting up a domain to adding more storage, our team is ready to help via email or phone, ensuring a smooth transition and ongoing assistance.

Getting your business started with Proton 

Proton apps are private by default. Thanks to our built-in encryption, we help healthcare providers, researchers, and administrators comply with health privacy laws without any extra steps or having to use third-party tools.

Proton Mail offers several plans:

  • Proton Mail Essentials: Our simplest plan offers secure email with 15 GB of total storage and 10 addresses per user, support for three custom email domains, and basic VPN access on one device per user. This plan also includes basic features for Proton Pass and Proton Drive.
  • Proton Business: Our upgraded business plan gives you secure email with 500 GB of storage and 15 email addresses per user, support for 10 custom email domains, and the highest speed VPN on 10 devices per user with more servers worldwide and extra security features. This plan also includes all Proton Pass and Proton Drive functionality.

When you’re ready to make the move, you’ll find everything you need to know about migration in this easy-to-follow guide about how to get your business started in Proton Mail

Protect yourself with Proton

At Proton, our mission is to make it easy for you to protect your most sensitive information. Unlike Big Tech companies, we put your privacy first and never commoditize your personal data for profit. 

By using Proton Mail, you’re not only ensuring HIPAA compliance but also supporting a company dedicated to upholding your basic human right to privacy. Our features, such as end-to-end encryption, zero-access encryption, and comprehensive BAA coverage, provide all the security your organization needs to operate in a safe, optimal way.

Switching to Proton Mail is simple with our Easy Switch feature, allowing you to seamlessly transition all your emails, contacts, and calendars from other services. 

When you create a Proton Mail account, you’re not only protecting your most valuable business and patient data, you’re also helping build a better internet where privacy is the default.

Protect your privacy with Proton
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