Secure Messaging in Healthcare is Not a Standalone Solution

Key Learnings

  • Stand-alone secure messaging apps do not get user adoption.
  • Secure messaging in healthcare is vital as hackers target the industry
  • Secure messaging is an essential function of a clinical collaboration platform

Secure messaging in healthcare is vital. No one doubts that. However, at a time when expeditious, high-quality communication is more important than ever, healthcare decision-makers need to do more than deploy secure messaging to check the HIPAA-compliance box and provide their clinicians with a way to communicate internally. It doesn’t facilitate true care collaboration, and years of experience in implementations have taught us that it simply doesn’t work.

Clinicians, nurses, and many other roles within the healthcare industry are tasked with working under extreme pressure, constant noise from alarms and alerts, and often carry multiple devices. Adding another app, or another device does not get user buy-in. Especially today.

The need for fast and secure messaging tools has never been greater. “And the need was already there, according to Health Tech Magazine. “Eighty-one percent of healthcare professionals surveyed for the Philips Future Health Index 2020 earlier this year said the right digital technologies could reduce their workloads.”

So why does secure messaging in healthcare alone fall short? 

Secure messaging in healthcare today has many shortcomings

Imagine you are a physician, and you now have an app on your phone or your tablet for secure messaging only. When you have yet one more app on your phone, it’s just that. It’s one more app. It’s not something upon which you’re reliant. It’s not something that you need to do your work. It ends up falling to the background. You lose track of it in the mix of all the other things you have on your plate, and you don’t use it.

User adoption fails—people won’t and don’t use a stand-alone app consistently. It only takes one time to message somebody via that secure messaging platform and not get a response to lose all confidence in the app and its effectiveness. And there’s just no time for any of this.

User adoption has been the biggest problem with secure messaging in healthcare since its inception, and it will continue to be a problem. An effective healthcare communication tool can’t just be another app or yet another communication channel. It has to be something clinicians should use instead of what they do use for everything else in their life, SMS messaging. And it has to understand and help facilitate clinical workflows. It must aid the clinician’s ability to be successful.

But the argument is even more nuanced than simple user adoption. Healthcare is complex. There are many different people whose roles are pivotal in the successful delivery of patient care. Multiple people in multiple positions who deliver care to individual patients. Finding the right person, knowing how to reach them, and getting through to them quickly can be very difficult.

It’s a challenge, for example, for case managers or nurses on the floor to know who to contact when they need a specific specialist. They don’t know who’s serving what role at any given time, and they don’t have a lot of time to spend chasing the information down. Secure messaging falls short in its ability to help care providers contact a person based on the role they’re serving.

The case manager or the nurse doesn’t need to know that it’s Dr. Smith or Dr. Jones covering a specific specialty, they just need to be able to contact the specialist on call. It’s really that simple.

Caregivers are at the breaking point – and so is the security of your communication.

Beyond secure messaging’s limitations in user adoption and role-based communication, it has genuine and very serious problems with change management, alert fatigue, and clinician and user burnout. People are stretched very thin and have become reluctant to open themselves up to more noise, apps and devices. Just walk the halls of the hospital and you can hear a cacophony of alerts, alarms, buzzes, overhead pages… all going off at the same time. All important. All demanding attention.

Care providers need a tool that helps them deliver care as opposed to, “they want me to communicate through this channel now because of some HIPAA compliance issue.”
And it’s important to not overlook that point, because the issue of protecting ePHI is very real and very important. But no matter what level of excellence a stand-alone secure messaging app can deliver, it is valueless when its intended user base won’t use it. They will turn to something else – something less secure.

It’s just as the article in Healthcare IT News describes, “In the stretched, stressed, and distracted environment of a hospital at the height of the pandemic, the possibility of even one individual taking their eye off the data security ball and using a short-cut to access information could be just the weakest link the cyber aggressor is looking for. And the more sophisticated threats don’t announce themselves with a grand-standing ransom demand. They sneak in, establish themselves and quietly work their way around hospital systems, applications, and devices, exploiting weaknesses and gathering information until they are in a position to cause maximum damage.”

To truly have a solution for HIPPA-compliant communication, users have to embrace and use it.

Conversely, a clinical collaboration platform (CCP) can be transformative. A CCP provides 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.

You know, they say that “the only way forward is through.” In today’s healthcare delivery, the only way through is by providing caregivers with the tools they need to communicate securely, in real-time, with the roles and teams who are on call to deliver the care each patient needs.

Learn more about solving this challenge and the value of clinical collaboration platforms by attending our upcoming webinar: “How to Solve the Clinical Communication Breakdown.”


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