This is a paid review performed by an independent writer, according to our guidelines.
See full disclosure the at the bottom of this article.
VM Racks Company Bio
Based out of San Marcos, California, VM Racks (legally Etica, Inc.) is a cloud-based hosting provider specializing in HIPAA compliance. Targeting American organizations who store and transfer ePHI (electronic protected health information), VM Racks offers a wide range of compliance solutions.
Established during the start of the Dot-Com Bubble in 1997, VM Racks was originally focused on consumer-end hosting. After the speculative bubble burst and competition in the hosting sector intensified, VM Racks redirected their efforts to the health sector.
Retooling their entire company infrastructure to focus on HIPAA compliance, VM Racks quickly garnered a reputation as one of the most affordable and reliable solutions to compliant hosting.
Today, they are the undisputed value leader of this niche, offering the most complete HIPAA compliant hosting solutions for the lowest prices in the industry.
Note: We also published a review for their HIPAA compliant hosting solution.
Reducing the Cost of Compliance With the Cloud
Any organization dealing with ePHI (electronic protected health information) must implement a long list of stringent safeguards to ensure the safety of sensitive customer data—lest they risk exorbitant fines for non-compliance.
Unfortunately, many of these safeguards are incredibly expensive to implement and maintain internally.
Organizations can forego the costs of building and managing their own compliant networks by using the services of companies like VM Racks. Satisfying all of the privacy and security requirements necessary to legally store and transmit ePHI, VM Racks offers managed cloud solutions that can decrease the liability and operational costs of any health organization.
Big Business Solutions With Boutique-Style Service
Using state-of-the-art datacenters, VM Racks provides HIPAA compliant solutions to tiny startups and huge enterprises alike. They are also certified to contract with government agencies, and host several web applications for the state of Oklahoma. There is seemingly no limit to the size of their solutions.
It is quite surprising, then, just how small the company is.
Home to less than 15 employees, VM Racks is one of the smallest HIPAA hosting outfits in the industry. But it is precisely the modesty of their size that allows them to provide the incredible level of service that they are known for.
Their staff members are experts on all things HIPAA, readily offering excellent advice to any clients that need it.
Their support team is on standby 24/7, eagerly awaiting for the chance to assist.
Their CTO takes customer phone calls, routinely geeking out over web security, software architecture, and SQL databases.
This level of service is hard to come by in any industry, let alone one dominated by recorded message hotlines and call-centers.
VM Racks Services
Cloud hosting is the bread and butter of VM Racks operations. Offering three packaged HIPAA hosting services for smaller organizations, and a flexible dedicated service for firms of any size, the VM Racks cloud is an excellent solution for any client looking to become HIPAA compliant. You can read our VM Racks HIPAA Compliant Cloud Hosting Review for more details.
For clients looking to securely transfer large amounts of data in a HIPAA compliant environment, VM Racks also offers a Secure FTP Server. This is an ideal solution for laboratories or health providers that deal with large file sizes (X-Ray images, screenings, etc.) on a day-to-day basis.
Although not their central focus, VM Racks also offers hosting services for other industries.
Starting at $99 USD/month, this package is a standard managed hosting solution for clients in any industry. Like the HIPAA Dedicated Server offering from VM Racks, the cloud hosting solution allows clients to tailor virtual server specifications to their technical needs.
This offering is specifically designed for individuals and organizations that require additional redundancy measures for their website or web application. VM Racks will manage an exact duplicate of a client’s server, keeping it on standby until it is needed. In the case of a disaster (like a server outage or failure), a twin server is switched on, allowing the client’s website or application to continue unaffected.
Marketed mainly towards IT professionals and developers, this package allows clients to lease any number of virtual machines with any technical specifications without a long-term commitment. This is a quick, flexible, and incredibly affordable solution for testing browser, web, and database applications on the fly.
VM Racks HIPAA Compliant Email Review
HIPAA compliant email is a brand new addition for VM Racks, a company historically focused solely on hosting services.
Made possible through a partnership with a leading secure communications company, NeoCertified, this new offering is a critical expansion of the VM Racks solutions portfolio.
HIPAA Compliant Email Features
As with all other VM Racks HIPAA solutions, their new email service is operated out of fully HIPAA compliant facilities. This internal compliance allows VM Racks to sign the BAAs (business associate agreements) required by federal law to handle ePHI on behalf of their clients. In addition, the service boasts several key features that are necessary for clients to transmit PHI securely. Namely:
- Message encryption that prevents intruders from reading protected information
- Digital signatures that ensure secure communications have not been tampered with or modified
- Message history, reporting, and read-receipts that form comprehensive audit controls
- Forwarding restrictions, programmable message retention duration, and sent message retraction features that limit the potential of the wrong recipient receiving sensitive information
- All other safeguards and controls that are necessary for HIPAA compliant communications
The features above are critical to the security of ePHI, and can be found on any truly HIPAA compliant email service. Where the VM Racks service excels above the standard offerings, however, is in their additional services:
- No charge for recipients to securely respond to your communications
- Easy to integrate into all modern version of Microsoft Outlook
- Cloud-based portal that allows secure email access from a web browser
- Communications can be securely accessed from a tablet or smart phone
- Larger files (images, sound, video) can be transmitted at no extra cost
- No cap to the amount of secure messages that can be sent
- $1 million Website Identity Assurance Warranty
It should also be noted that the fact this service is being managed by a separate company (NeoCertified) is a huge advantage.
As IT and web professionals know, keeping hosting and email provides an extra measure of redundancy for your operations. An outage in one does not affect the other. A breach of one will not compromise the other.
This is just good practice.
Ease of Use
As briefly mentioned above, this service offers several convenient features that distinguish it from other competitors.
The Outlook integration alone can be a fantastic selling point for organizations already using a Microsoft platform. Supporting Outlook 2007, 2010, 2013, and the newer 365, the service is incredibly simple to integrate into your operations.
No need for clumsy and confusing proprietary software.
For organizations using alternative operating systems or email software, the service also offers in-browser access to your secure mailbox.
Furthermore, users are not limited to using PCs to send secure communications. The emailing service can be easily accessed from any tablet or smart phone. Keep in mind, however, that using a mobile device to access ePHI will require the same safeguards that apply to PCs (passwords, encryption, antivirus), in addition to mobile specific safeguards (remote tracking, remote wiping, etc.).
All in all, this is just an incredible easy service to implement into your operations.
Despite the ease of use, the procedures of sending and receiving truly secure communications can be confusing to people who don’t do it every day (such as your customers).
This is yet another big plus for the VM Racks service. Their dedicated 24/7 support extends beyond helping your organization with any questions and concerns regarding secure communications. They’ll help your recipients as well.
As a HIPAA knowledge leader, VM Racks will also provide you with excellent resources for understanding and implementing proper compliance measures.
Their blog can help you figure out the best password protection management practices, provide you with general HIPAA compliance tips, update you on the latest developments in compliance and security, and answer many specific questions regarding compliance measures.
Their short HIPAA video series is a great starting point for new startups and employees of the health sector looking for a better understanding of compliance.
Best of all, if you still have questions about your services, you can just call. They’ll be happy to help.
Price and Overall Value
Including all of the features listed above, the single-user package will set your organization back $8 a month. Although not the best pricing in the industry, it is still quite competitive.
What if you want more users? This is where the service loses some of its edge.
While tiered plans are available, each additional secure email user will increase your monthly fee. With several other HIPAA email providers offering 5-user plans for roughly the same price as the single-user plan from VM Racks, this is not the cheapest solution available. For organizations at this awkward middle spot of users (2-5), the value will depend solely on how important they consider the additional features to be.
For solo practitioners and small companies that can make due with a single user, however, the VM Racks package is an excellent value. It is comprehensive, undeniably secure, and much easier to integrate and use than most competing services.
Larger organizations will undoubtedly appreciate the level of support VM Racks provides, finding a great value in this offering.
The VM Racks HIPAA Compliant Email service is a perfect complement to their excellent hosting packages.
While not the cheapest offering on the market, it differentiates itself with attentive and effective customer support, convenient integration, and a myriad of additional security and convenience features not available on many competing services.
Best suited for single-user organizations, this is nevertheless a fantastic service for any covered entities that value simplicity of use and top-of-the line security.
Full disclosure: This is a paid review performed by an independent writer, according to our guidelines. Minor edits were made to this review to clarify certain findings before it was published.