As our world becomes increasing digital, the popularity of electronic signatures has grown substantially. Although HIPAA does not currently include legislation pertaining to electronic signatures, federal and state law, including the ESIGN Act and the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act, more broadly require that electronic signatures should be treated the same as handwritten signatures. In compliance with these acts, medical practices may accept all forms of valid electronic signatures.
Requirements of electronic Signatures
While HIPAA currently does not contain specific standards related to electronic signatures, the spirit and intent remains that a reasonable effort is made to ensure the patient’s privacy is protected. HHS provides guidance that organizations bound by HIPAA must ensure that any electronic signature is legally binding under applicable state and other law.
Along with HIPAA requirements, the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (UETA) and the Global and National Commerce Act (EGISN Act) must be taken into consideration. These two Acts have four requirements for an electronic signature to be legitimate:
- Intent to sign – Electronic signatures require all parties to be willing to sign the requested documents.
- Consent of Electronic Business – All involved parties must be willing to conduct business electronically.
- Association of record and signature – The system utilized to process the transaction must keep a related record that displays the process of the creation of the signature or a statement to prove the document was completed with an electronic signature.
- Record Maintenance – Electronic signatures must have the ability to be replicated for reference by all parties.
In accordance with this legislation, practices may accept valid electronic signatures for release of information requiring a signature.
Release Requests to a Partner
Ready to let go of the burden of electronic signatures and other release of information processes? ScanSTAT is here to help take on your requests to allow you to focus your staff time back on your patients. Interested in learning how we can help? Reach out to us today to schedule a demo.
This FAQ is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Seek your own legal counsel to ensure compliance with federal and state law.