Healthcare digital signature solutions and the laws governing them

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In the old times, actually hardly a couple of decades ago we all used to perform signatures in a traditional format where wet/ink signatures or a physical fingerprint used to be pasted as a signature on the document. These signatures are nothing but a consent from the signatory’s side that the terms and conditions mentioned in the contract along with the mentiomed parties are accepted by the signatory. Which directly means that he agrees to sign the contract.

However, the world has changed now, we all are becoming a loyal digital consumer in or other forms. In such a scenario, how can we keep signing in the old, traditional way? Hence, Electronic Signature software was introduced. The technology started getting good demand in the market and across the world, necessary laws were regulated to govern this technology and streamline a way of using this technology to have legal backing and protection/approval by the court of law.

What is eSignature Healthcare Solutions?

Before we move ahead and start understanding the laws and regulations that must be adhered to by any digital signature solution and the vendor before using the technology in the healthcare sector, let us understand what an electronic signature software means.

An electronic signature is any signature that is made/recorded or is captured with the help of a computer device/application/smartphone. The signatures are made on touch-sensitive screens of computer devices where the signatory can use a finger or a stylus to sign a name the exact way the signatory on the document. This can be of many times they can be made in cursive writing, in typed format, or the image can be copy-pasted on the document. Then there are other types of electronic signatures where you need to mark the ‘I agree’ button or record your voice and connect to the document or select from the given options on the document in order to show your consent to the contract and the content mentioned in it. An electronic signature can also be any symbol you choose to paste as a signature showing your approval to the document.

Esignature healthcare solutions use digital identification to authenticate the signer. The sooner then it gets connected to the signature and the document through encryption. This gives security to the signature and the data on the document. The technology has developed hugely with the help of ongoing innovations in the sector and by abiding the laws that govern them.

Federal and State Electronic Transactions Laws

The US federal government formed a law named the ESIGN Act in 2000. Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act regulates and governs most of the electronic contracts and digital signatures in the state across multiple sectors. The law considered contracts or signatures valid and real. It says that one cannot deny the authenticity of the digital signature just because it is not a wet signature. Similar to this law, there are other laws passed by the US government and other countries across the world that govern the process of digital signature in healthcare and other sectors, such as the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA).

What Is an Electronic Contract?

An electronic contract is a digital contract created and signed digitally. Electronic contracts can be created online to email to the concerned party to allow them to sign this electronically through their mobile devices. Electronic signature made on the electronic document/contract shows that the singer has signed the contract after going through it thoroughly, he accepts the terms and conditions mentioned in the digital contract and gives consent to it by his own will. After signing the document digitally the signer shares it to the document creator as a final step. All the names of the parties connected to the document perform the same process. There is one more popular type of e-contract which is in the form of “click to agree”. We see such types of electronic contracts when we download any software or wish to install it in the computer system. Here the user has to click on the “I agree” checkbox to show the content to the terms and conditions of installing using the software.

The Laws of Signing By Using eSignature Solution for Healthcare Professionals

Above we read about e-sign act and UETA act, here we will know them in brief and understand about one more act that is specially made for the healthcare sector, that is HIPAA act.

Both, ESIGN and UETA state 4 requirements

Similar to the traditional ink signatures, electronic signatures will be co soldered authenticate only when each involved party intends to sign the document by free will.

The parties involved have decided to choose the electronic format over a traditional format.

There must be a secured but accessible association formed between the signatories and their respective signatures.
The software must be able to maintain electronic signature records and create an accurate replica of these records for reference by all the concerned parties.

As we are focusing on eSignature Healthcare Solutions, here are some special guidelines that need to be followed for the safety of patients’ data and privacy. These guidelines are often under the HIPAA act.

Then consent of the patient is important and this content has to be given by the patient willingly. Only then, he or she can enter into an electronic contract with the healthcare provider.

The signing process must be secured and recorded or documented end-to-end.

The authentication process must be involved in two layers for better security and user’s authentication.
Message and signature integrity is important to avoid any fraudulent activities.

Conclusion

All the above-mentioned laws including the HIPAA act that was formed in 1996 help patients and healthcare providers to enter into a valid contract where both the parties are protected by the laws if they follow the given guidelines. Electronic signature software Is the present and the future of the healthcare sector.

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