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Biggest Obstacles to Implementing Secure Messaging in Your Hospital

Whether it’s improved software or a new app, the news that you’re switching to a new piece of technology will usually elicit groans from your staff. Implementing secure messaging in a health system is no different; it may not be easy, but it is often necessary to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Here are the biggest obstacles to implementing secure messaging:

1. The staff doesn’t like the new system

Expect some push back from your employees after announcing a new system. Accurate or not, their perception is that they just got used to the old system, and now they have to learn a new one. While it’s important for your employees to feel like they’ve been heard, their complaints shouldn’t stop you from implementing secure messaging. These negative comments will likely quiet over time when they get familiar with its function, understand its importance and recognize that it’s not going away any time soon.

2. They’re too busy to sign in and get started

While secure messaging updates are intended to be improvements over the previous system, they are only effective if the providers actually use them. Busy providers are inundated with their current workload, so it’s easy to overlook an email instructing them to sign in and get started—even if the sign-in process takes only a few seconds. Sporadic sign-in throughout your organization will be frustrating to providers who are unable to reach the ones who are not yet using the platform. And, of course, anyone not using it opens the organization up to HIPAA-compliance problems. One solution: Designate an implementation champion in each group or department. These leaders can not only help people complete the sign-in process and learn the platform, but they can generate buzz around this new system that will improve clinical communications.

3. They don’t care as much as they need to about HIPAA compliance

While hospital administrators are making HIPAA compliance a top priority, physicians and nurses are focused on immediate patient care. Therefore, HIPAA compliance itself likely doesn’t provide enough incentive for busy providers to get excited about a secure messaging platform. When rolling the new system out to the organization, it may be more effective to focus on the workflow benefits: direct communication between physicians, confirmation that messages have been received, the elimination of disruptive operator pages, and more. Then you can remind them that the platform also means they never have to think about the security and safety of protected patient information.

4. Policy changes may follow

A change in technology likely will also require modifications in your patient security and privacy procedures in order to fully comply with HIPAA rules. If you are updating tools in the workplace, be clear about policies surrounding access, proper use and data management, as well as internal controls that may be new. You need to be ready to adjust your health system’s rules and to make sure employees understand restrictions or prohibited behavior under these new procedures. Additional training sessions may be necessary.

Although establishing new technology in a health system is always difficult, a few simple implementation strategies will improve the experience of every user involved.