USPS Health Connect Digital Application – Securing Health Information for Patients

KelleySullivan_USPSBy Kelley Sullivan, Manager of Digital Integration, USPS
Twitter: @USPS

The United States Postal Service (USPS) Health Connect is a patient-centric portal for USPS employees. Health Connect uses an open architecture and is designed to provide flexibility and interoperability with various technologies. It will enable employees to collect, store, and manage their personal health and wellness information. USPS management does not have the ability to access private health information within the tool; only the individual user has access and is able to share their information with others.

Employees will be able to manage all of their medical records from one, user-friendly location. They can also safely and securely exchange health information with their doctor or provider. This data can then be tracked and integrated with personal health devices like Fitbit or OneTouch. In the future, the portal will include tools for plan comparison, selection, and flexible spending.

The portal’s existing features depend on Direct Secure Messaging, a critical tool that protects messages and health documents as they are sent and received. Similar to email, Direct Messages have an added layer of security – carrying authenticated and encrypted health information from trusted address to trusted address. The Health Internet Service Provider (HISP) manages the transmission of these secure messages.

The content itself is wrapped in an Electronic Postmark (EPM). The EPM protects the integrity of the data in transit. Any unauthorized modifications are detected when the EPM signature is validated upon arrival. This signature verifies the sender using two security keys—one signs the EPM, the other verifies the signature on the message. An EPM also contains an algorithmic key that confirms whether or not the contents were altered in route to their destination.

Postal employees can feel confident that when they use USPS Health Connect, their private information is managed in a highly secure environment.

This article is a selected item from the FHA, The Pulse Bimonthly Newsletter for Federal Health IT Updates – August 2016.