Just because most patients and practices today are all-in on patient communications going digital, it doesn’t mean patients aren’t still worried about the security and privacy of their health data.

On one hand, patients have embraced modern patient communications tools like digital intake forms because of their ease and convenience. Seventy-six percent of patients prefer practices that offer digital intake.

But on the other hand, patients need reassurances that their protected health information (PHI) won’t become compromised through unauthorized access or cyber attacks. A 2022 survey found nearly 75% of patients expressed concern about protecting the privacy of their PHI.

But are patient intake forms private and secure? In this article, we’ll look at how you can ensure patients’ data is kept private, secure, and HIPAA compliant when using digital intake forms. A robust digital intake tool can automate the intake forms workflow, provide a better patient experience, and increase savings and efficiencies for your practice.

Are digital intake forms HIPAA compliant?

The short answer is yes. Not only is digital intake more secure than paper forms but an electronic intake solution enables you to be HIPAA compliant across the intake workflow. Modern intake software incorporates security measures and protocols that limit access to authorized patients and staff, reduce your risk and liability, and minimize the chances that patients’ PHI can be electronically accessed, shared, or stolen.

What are the specific benefits to patients and practices of HIPAA compliant digital intake forms?

Patient Benefits 

  • Easily complete secure intake forms on a smartphone or computer from the comfort of home prior to the appointment.
  • Streamline check-in and minimize long wait times at the visit.
  • Optimize patient-provider visit time and shrink patients’ total time at the appointment.
  • Eliminate the risk of paper forms containing patient health information from being misplaced or stolen.

Practice Benefits

  • Gain the speed and efficiency of automatically sending patients electronic intake forms that save valuable staff time.
  • Heighten staff productivity by reducing data re-entry of paper forms.
  • Reduce insurance claim denials due to data re-entry errors.
  • Eliminate costly paper expenses.
  • Streamline check-in workflow.
  • Minimize your HIPAA security risk and liability.

What can I do to ensure my digital intake forms are secure and HIPAA compliant?

There are a number of security protocols you can adopt to protect patients and support HIPAA compliance when accessing, sharing, and storing PHI. Without these safeguards, your patients’ health data can be vulnerable to:

  • Data breaches
  • Malware
  • Phishing
  • Ransomware


Consider the following security protocols, best practices, and features when evaluating digital intake software:


  • Access authorization: Make sure the new patient files are only shared with authorized personnel. This helps mitigate your practice’s risk and improves the efficiency of intake workflows.


  • Two-step verification: When you text or email a patient an invitation to complete intake securely online, increase your system’s protection by adding extra steps to log in. Use multi-factor authentication to verify the user’s identity and ensure that only authorized practice staff can access the patient’s PHI. This helps you minimize the risk of identity theft or a potential data breach.


  • Password authentication: Another method to ensure digital intake forms are secure and HIPAA compliant is to protect them with a password. This limits access to patients’ PHI to only pre-approved patients and staff on intake forms.


  • Electronic signatures: Practices will often collect informed consent forms from patients prior to medical procedures. Obtain quick and easy patient consent and authorization with HIPAA-compliant patient consent forms with e-signatures.


  • Data transfer encryption: With PHI being shared across practices, insurance companies, and other authorized third parties, you can make sure PHI is secure during transfers by encrypting the patient data. This protects patients’ PHI from perpetrators who may hack the system to access and steal patient electronic health records (EHR) and data.


  • Business associate agreement: HIPAA-covered entities like healthcare practices are required to have a HIPAA business associate agreement (BAA) in place with each of their partners to maintain PHI security and overall HIPAA compliance. BAAs are mandatory when you need to send communications related to a patient’s care.


  • Data storage/backup encryption: Data being stored or archived in the cloud needs to have HIPAA compliant storage encryption. It provides better protection for your PHI and assures that should your server become compromised, your practice’s liability is significantly limited by having encrypted data.

Why should I invest in a digital intake solution to protect patients’ health data?

A robust digital intake tool can help you stay HIPAA compliant during intake workflows and also ensure that your patients’ PHI is kept confidential and secure. A solution also automates much of the patient intake process with patients automatically receiving invitations with appointment reminders or pre-visit instructions to complete forms securely online. Your practice gets streamlined intake workflows, reduces costs from paper and potential claim denials from reentry errors, and minimizes potential hiccups at check-in.

Digital intake will also get rave reviews from your patients who get a more fluid and convenient intake experience while knowing they can trust you to keep their health information safe. Finally, digital intake forms help you drive higher patient satisfaction which contributes to your patient retention efforts.

Key Takeaways

Investing in a digital intake solution that includes built-in security measures helps protect your patients’ PHI and verify your HIPAA compliance while also giving your admin staff the automated functions to expedite intake workflows and create operational efficiencies. Patients love the convenience and security of digital intake, and you’ll be able to position your practice for increased productivity and production.


To learn more about the most effective strategies to boost your patient retention efforts, download the new guide, “5 Keys to Transforming ‘Patients’ into Long-Term ‘Practice Champions.”



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