Signal is a free, open-source messaging app known for its emphasis on privacy and security. It provides end-to-end encryption for all communications, including text messages, voice, and video calls, ensuring that only the people involved in the conversation can access the content. Because of its strong focus on privacy, Signal has been endorsed by privacy advocates and security researchers worldwide.
In a healthcare setting, Signal's use must be carefully considered. While it provides end-to-end encryption for secure messaging, it should not be utilized for transmitting or storing Protected Health Information (PHI). However, Signal can still be an effective tool for internal team communication that does not involve PHI, such as coordinating schedules, discussing non-sensitive operational matters, or facilitating communication between departments. Care must be taken to ensure that patient-related information is not shared over Signal, maintaining adherence to HIPAA guidelines. By employing Signal for non-sensitive communications within healthcare teams, organizations can take advantage of its encryption and privacy features without risking a violation of healthcare privacy laws.
Signal's strong encryption makes it a good option for secure communication, but it is it is NOT a HIPAA-compliant service. The service does not sign Business Associate Agreements (BAAs), which are essential for HIPAA compliance. Additionally, while Signal's encryption may protect data transmission, the app does not have controls for access, audit controls, and other requirements necessary for HIPAA compliance. Therefore, healthcare providers must proceed with caution if considering Signal for communication. And covered entities should ensure that they do not send Protected Health Information (PHI) through the Signal platform.
Take a look at our ultimate guide to HIPAA compliant software and services for help selecting compliant service providers. Though careful vendor evaluation and selection is only one piece of the puzzle for maintaining HIPAA compliance. At TeachMeHIPAA, we offer an affordable HIPAA training solution to ensure your staff are knowledgeable in how to comply, and to help you meet your legally mandated HIPAA training requirement with ease. Learn more about our tips and tricks for maintaining compliance with our HIPAA compliance blog.