- Secure messaging is an essential feature to facilitate communication in healthcare
- Secure messaging has its limitations
- More scalable, unified technology can lead to improved communication and outcomes
In healthcare, secure messaging is essential. Clinicians are constantly under pressure to quickly update team members, specialists, and others about patient health statuses. Doctors and nurses must consult with each other and communicate vital health information, often under extreme time constraints and while juggling multiple patient care responsibilities. But systems of records can be cumbersome and are not communication-first software.
For healthcare providers, it is imperative to understand how doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers and staff communicate quickly and securely without violating HIPAA regulations. So let’s go back to basics and look at secure messaging and HIPAA-compliant texting in healthcare settings.
What is Secure Messaging?
Secure messaging incorporates security features such as message delivery and read receipt notifications, increasing message accountability and keeping communications flowing. For a growing number of organizations, secure messaging is part of the functionality of a more extensive clinical communications and collaboration platform designed to protect ePHI and allow clinicians to share patient information, files, and images quickly and seamlessly. Secure messaging can incorporate a text-like interface, making it easy for doctors and nurses to attach relevant files and graphic images to their communications.
Secure text messaging ensures HIPAA-compliant communication and provides the simplification of care communication for which clinicians are searching. It offers additional benefits:
- Reducing the potential for medical mistakes
- Improving clinical outcomes
- Accelerating patient throughput
- Significantly reducing costs
- Increasing patient satisfaction
According to the HIPAA Journal, secure text messaging for healthcare complies with HIPAA by using mechanisms that prevent ePHI from being sent beyond a healthcare organization’s network. If the mobile device is either lost or stolen, the secure text messaging solutions allow remote deletion of ePHI from users’ mobile devices. Secure messaging solutions also assign message lifespans with automatic removal once read and force automatic logoffs following a period of inactivity to further prevent unauthorized access to ePHI.
What is HIPAA compliant secure text messaging?
HIPAA compliant text messaging is run through a HIPAA compliant text messaging app or included as a function of a clinical collaboration platform. The app or platform ensures the confidentiality of all ePHI when it is at rest with texting safeguards. The same app or platform will include control for who can access the ePHI and what the authorized individuals can do with it once they have accessed it.
Many factors will impact the successful implementation and adoption of secure HIPAA compliant messaging: the vendor’s implementation strategy, the organization’s goals for the project (HIPAA compliance vs. improving communication workflow), the provisioning technology used, smartphone penetration, supported mobile operating systems, user-friendliness, and the perceived value of the product.
Why is secure messaging critical in healthcare communications?
Clinicians have to be able to consult with one another and communicate vital health information – quickly. But systems of records can be cumbersome and are not communication-first software.
As a result, to communicate and collaborate effectively, clinicians often revert to workarounds, texting using their own mobile devices – even though texting may not be HIPAA-compliant. It’s the classic case of using the tools at your disposal to get the job done. And it’s an increasing cause of frustration for care providers that they don’t have a tool that meets both their clinical communication and HIPAA-compliance requirements.
Maintaining connection amongst the care team has become increasingly complex, as care team members extend across organizations, but their hospital communication systems often don’t. Questions such as, who is available for consults and how do I reach them? These common clinical communication frustrations can create delays in care that not only put patients at risk but make meeting consumer demand and expectations exceedingly challenging.
A significant driver of patient satisfaction relates to feeling that the care team is in communication with one another – that everyone is on the same page with what is affecting the patient medically and any outside factors that may be influencing the patient’s medical situation. Healthcare organizations are under pressure to provide HIPAA-compliant secure messaging functionality to enable physicians and nurses to communicate quickly and securely.
A growing number of healthcare organizations are deploying clinical collaboration platforms (CCP) that simplify and streamline existing communications and processes. Many of these platforms, also called secure messaging platforms, include HIPAA-compliant secure messaging functionality.
What is a clinical collaboration platform?
A clinical collaboration platform is a cloud-based and cost-effective solution, unifying all communication channels (secure messaging, video, voice, alerts) and enabling role-based collaboration. Role-based collaboration ensures the right message gets to the right person, role, or team at the right time – instantly.
A CCP can be transformative, providing value to end-users and the people who deliver care. It becomes a vital part of the job they do – like a scalpel to a surgeon. The secure and HIPAA compliant messaging functionality included in a CCP allows clinicians to communicate freely, easily and securely, quickly updating team members and other stakeholders with the latest patient information.