Secure Clinical Messaging
Medical Communications App Provides Secure Messaging Solution
Healthcare organizations are embracing secure messaging solutions more than ever and are implementing medical communications apps at record rates. But does the type of text messaging really matter? Absolutely!
A challenge that healthcare organizations face when implementing text messaging is addressing both professional and medical communication. Choosing the right secure medical messaging app is essential, and users need to be educated on best practices regarding HIPAA compliance when texting patient Protected Health Information (PHI) as well as text messaging etiquette.
Types of Applications
Clinical and business text messaging solutions differ greatly in terms of types of applications and security needs. If you cannot reach someone in accounting or sales in real time, it is usually not a life-or-death situation. At a healthcare organization, it absolutely could be. That is why clinical environment and workflow challenges are best addressed by a secure medical messaging solution versus a basic text messaging app.
HIPAA compliance is of paramount importance when discussing clinical communication. Secure medical messaging solutions must be designed to provide encrypted communication that complies with U.S. legislation – keeping patient PHI safe. Medical communication apps are developed specifically to meet the needs of healthcare organizations, whereas non-healthcare apps may leave a system open to exploits.
Medical communications apps for healthcare organizations are designed to provide on-the-go, real-time communication channels between providers and other patient care team members, enhancing mobility through portable smart devices – vital in an environment where nurses and physicians are constantly on the go. This enables more effective communication across all facilities without departmental boundaries, not only saving time but also potentially lives, while adhering to HIPAA compliance regulations.
Etiquette Best Practices
Clinical settings require that secure medical messaging should not be social, should exclude text messaging that is not related to patient care, and – as impolite as it may seem – should not include responses such as “thank you” or “okay.” This latter habit is a hard one to escape because we are ingrained to respond. But if a clinician stops to read a “thank you” text, that is time wasted not caring for a patient.
Healthcare organizations must implement regular audits of their text messages after implementing a medical communication app. There may be other issues that appear: emojis in text messages, medical orders creeping being texted (which The Joint Commission has prohibited) and employees asking personal medical questions of physicians – all items that can be addressed with a robust onboarding and education program for users either by the healthcare organization or the secure medical messaging partner who has implemented the app. With regular audits, healthcare organizations will see users move to more professional secure medical messaging and address any further issues with individuals on an as-needed basis.
HIPAA Compliance and Media Features
To keep patient PHI safe and in HIPAA compliance with current regulations, photos and videos should be created within the medical communication app, not with the smart device’s native camera. Best practice is to not allow access to the camera roll that exists on the device itself. This is particularly important if physicians, nurses and clinicians are using their own devices for text messaging patient information. Turning off the ability to grab pictures from the device’s gallery removes the chance of having patient PHI reside on the device should something happen to it.
It is imperative that healthcare organizations choose a true secure clinical messaging application over a simple text messaging app. An app specific to healthcare is designed for clinical workflows, real-time communication and HIPAA compliance.