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At What Point Is Secure Messaging Effective?

Many sports teams and businesses are only as strong as their weakest links, and this principle holds true for secure messaging in healthcare facilities. It isn’t effective unless everyone is on it. Because people use it to avoid information leaks, uphold patient confidentiality for HIPAA compliance and the like, it takes only one unsecured device for information to leak. So, while making the messaging available only to select personnel may be cost effective in the short term, it does not lead to effective secure messaging in either the short or long term, and isn’t cost effective in the big picture.

The whole staff—not just doctors—needs secure messaging

It is common for as many as ten people, or even more, to see a patient who goes to the emergency department for a false-alarm heart attack –all in a visit of a few hours. There are the check-in personnel, the technician who does the cardiac event monitoring test, the people reading the results, various nurses, the technicians doing blood draws and urine samples and running the tests, the nurses at various desks, the nurses taking the patient history and checking on the patient, and finally, the doctor.

secure-messaging-arc-of-adoptionWhen only doctors use secure messaging, the system is not secure. In the short term, costs may be lower because the number of users is lower, but hospitals open themselves up to information leaks. The adoption rate is a relatively lackluster 60 percent if physicians are the only ones using the secure platform. The adoption rate perks up to 89 percent when their ambulatory nurses enter the picture. It shines at 96 percent when after-hours call centers get on board, and it stays at 99 percent when paging functions, electronic health records and medical devices join.

Mobile health platforms serve as hubs of communication by enabling secure messaging and streamlining workflow. They’re not for the relatively infrequent messages from one doctor to another. Reality speaks, and reality says that an immense number of staffers on varying levels are involved in patient care. For chief information officers, the mobile health platforms are a tool they use to regulate communication for HIPAA compliance and to analyze data for better communication.

When cost is a factor

To ensure the most secure messaging possible, aim for deep penetration rather than broad penetration. This means instead of giving a mobile health platform to all doctors in a health system, choose one region or department in the health system, and make the app available to all relevant personnel, not just doctors, in that section. Gradually work your way across the rest of the health system one area at a time.

For healthcare facilities, the best way to measure the effectiveness of secure messaging is by how secure it is rather than how inexpensive. For it to be truly secure, all relevant personnel need to be on board using it.