Translating protected health information may be top of mind for you if you work for a healthcare or health insurance organization. Most of all, you may wonder how your Language Service Provider is translating protected health information (PHI) while following the appropriate regulations and ensuring confidentiality. The security of your patients’ or clients’ protected health information should be a high concern for you and your LSP. At Avantpage, we follow best practices when translating protected health information by using many processes and technologies.

Translating protected health information and HIPPA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prohibits the unauthorized sharing of medical records and personally identifiable information without patient consent. This protected health information is often shared during the delivery of translation services and should be handled carefully by vendors for a covered health care entity.

Because they are not employed by the organization using their services, translators are considered business associates under HIPAA legislation. Patient information should only be shared with a business associate for a specific purpose as stated in a business contract between a provider and hospital or clinic.

Translating protected health information with an LSP

To fully comply with HIPAA regulations, your LSP should incorporate the following:

  • File Protection: To ensure the security of protected health information, your LSP’s servers should be high-quality and hosted in a secure data center. Software and hardware firewalls should also be implemented, as these will prevent unauthorized access to the servers hosting your data. Finally, file level encryption should be applied. At Avantpage, we host our servers in one of the most prominent data centers in the United States. Because we translate protected health information daily, we follow all of the above recommendations.
  • Data Storage: When translating protected patient information, your LSP needs to have an encrypted system for hosting translation projects, having translators work on those projects, and delivering those projects back to you. It should be password protected and use a secure connection for transmitting the data to each project participant. We use AvantFlow to ensure your data is safe and transferred securely. Our system is password protected with second-step authentication and uses SSL data transmission protocols. The system automatically encrypts any information sent through it.
  • Service Providers: To safeguard protected patient health information, your LSP should work with trustworthy translators who have gone through a rigorous qualification process to determine their professional conduct. At Avantpage, every translator goes through this process and signs a variety of documents including a non-disclosure agreement, a formal HIPAA Business Associate contract, and our Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility. Translators should also have a secure internet connection, as well as private space to work on translation projects. At Avantpage, all communications with our translators go through encrypted SSL channels to ensure data safety. Access to translation files also goes through an encrypted SSL channel, as well as second step authentication. We closely monitor the translators we choose to give protected health information. When necessary, we set up check-in points with these translators to ensure they are maintaining our standards of confidentiality.
  • LSP Processes and Staff: When translating protected health information, you should expect that your LSP has an open process that you can review and an active policy and process for backing up data and emergency contingency planning. An LSP should also have clear security policies and be open to audits with your organization to improve compliance. Your LSP should show that its staff members are trained in HIPAA compliance including how to manage sensitive information, recognize PHI and protect the privacy of your patients.

The most important step your organization can take when translating protected health information is to hire a professional translation company with experience in the healthcare field. Make sure to assess potential vendors carefully and continually monitor their adherence to the laws.

Protected Health Information is essential, and your LSP should treat it that way. If you’d like to learn more about our data safety protocols at Avantpage, give us a call at 530-750-2040, or request a free quote.

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