A few days ago, after making multiple attempts on behalf of a client to verify and clarify how join.me supports HIPAA compliance, specifically participating in Business Associate Agreements, I found that they do not. In fact, they do not consider themselves subject to HIPAA regulations, regardless of the possibility of PHI being stored on the join.me platform. Therefore – as you’ll see in the exchange below – they “do not sign BAAs.”
So, a warning to those who use join.me and store recordings that include PHI on the join.me platform – join.me is unwilling to execute a business associate agreement with covered entities and business associates. If you need a video communications platform that supports the storage of PHI and is HIPAA compliant, it’s wise to look elsewhere.
Below is a reprint from a warning I posted on LinkedIn just the other day. Please feel free to share your experiences of similar situations and vendors with me in the comments area on that post. Here’s my email exchange with join.me.
I’m attempting to get an answer one last time. I represent a mutual customer who currently uses join.me who is required to comply with HIPAA. Given the fact that protected health information (PHI) may be stored on join.me‘s platform in the form of recordings, join.me is required to sign a business associate agreement with my client. If join.me is unable or unwilling to sign a business associate agreement, I need to recommend that my client change to another conferencing platform such as Zoom or WebEx who will sign a business associate agreement.
On Dec 2, 2018, at 6:42 PM, join.me Support wrote:
Thank you for contacting join.me.
We actually do not sign BAAs because our services are not HIPAA compliant as HIPAA compliance, per se, is applicable only to entities covered by HIPAA regulations (e.g., healthcare organizations).
That being said the technical security controls employed in the join.me service and associated host and client software can meet or exceed HIPAA technical standards. But again, we are unable to sign any BAA’s.
If we have answered your question, we will send you an email in the next few days asking for your feedback. We value your opinion and thank you in advance for taking the time to click on the survey link and letting us know how your experience was with our team.
Thanks again for using join.me.
L*** | Customer Support Representative
My reply to join.me
You (join.me) answered my question. My client will be looking for another vendor. While the functionality may be there to secure the data, my client would be violating HIPAA by continuing to use the join.me platform. As the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights has stated, claiming to not be a business associate doesn’t mean you actually aren’t one. I also feel a need to remind covered entities and business associates they shouldn’t be contracting with join.me if the platform will be used to store recordings that contain PHI.
Chris Apgar, CISSP
Ultimately, I had to recommend to the client that they not use join.me but check into online video and document storage with vendors who will sign BAAs, such as Zoom or Webex. The instance serves as a reminder that no matter how technically secure a vendor professes to be, if you plan to use their platform or services for anything pertaining to PHI, there needs to be a BAA in place, documenting that they follow HIPAA regulatory requirements as relates to PHI protection. And as I indicated to the customer support representative above, claiming that you’re not a business associate doesn’t magically transform you into not being one!
Chris is a frequent LinkedIn Pulse contributor. You can connect with him here, and you can follow Apgar and Associates on LinkedIn here.