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Healthcare Messaging App

Healthcare Messaging App

A Healthcare Messaging App Does More than Protect PHI

A healthcare messaging app is a popular way of complying with the HIPAA security and privacy rules relating to the secure communication of protected health information (PHI). Apps for secure healthcare texting are easy to use and promote compliance with HIPAA through a number of safeguards that prevent breaches of PHI.

However, whereas many organizations acknowledge the need for a secure app for healthcare text messaging in order to comply with HIPAA, not everybody is aware that a healthcare messaging app does more than protect PHI in transit. This article explains some of the additional benefits that can be derived from apps for secure healthcare texting.

What is a Secure App for Healthcare Text Messaging?

To help better understand the benefits that can be derived from a healthcare messaging app, it is important to know what a secure app for healthcare text messaging is and how it operates. In short, a healthcare messaging app is a multi-platform software application that works in the same way as an SMS inasmuch as users can send text messages, upload images and hold multi-person conversations.

Where apps for secure healthcare texting differ from other popular messaging services (including SMS and email) is that copies of messages are not retained on routing servers and cannot be intercepted on public Wi-Fi. This is because encrypted PHI is encapsulated within a unique communication channel that only authorized users can access once they have verified their ID with a username and password.

What Safeguards Protect PHI on Apps for Secure Healthcare Texting?

There are several safeguards that protect PHI on apps for secure healthcare texting. We have already mentioned that authorized users have to verify their ID with a username and password; and, once they are in the secure environment, security mechanisms prevent the saving of PHI to external hard drives, the copying and pasting of sensitive information or the forwarding of PHI to locations outside of the network.

All activity on the healthcare messaging app is monitored to ensure compliant use of the app, and administrative controls exist to remotely recall and delete any communications that could possibly result in a breach of PHI. Remote wipe and PIN lock controls also exist, so that any access to PHI is removed if a mobile device is lost, stolen or sold to another owner.

Messages can be allocated a “lifespan” so that they are removed from the apps for secure healthcare texting after a predetermined period of time; while an automatic time-out feature exists to log a secure app for healthcare text messaging out of the secure system if it is not used for a while. This feature prevents unauthorized access to PHI if a desktop computer or mobile device is left unattended.

Additional Features Promote Efficiency and Productivity

So far we have discussed how apps for secure healthcare texting promote compliance with HIPAA through various safeguards, but what of the benefits of these safeguards other than maintaining the integrity of PHI? Well, one of the most beneficial safeguards is a receipt confirmation feature which was originally included in a healthcare messaging app so that it could be confirmed that a message was sent to its intended recipient.

The receipt confirmation feature is similar to delivery notifications and read receipts – advising the sender that a message has been received by the recipient and subsequently read. This safeguard not only facilitates the retraction of a message if it has indeed been sent to the wrong person, but helps eliminates phone tag – one of the major causes of lost production in the healthcare industry.

The cost of phone tag in the healthcare industry has been estimated at $8.3 billion per year, mostly due to medical professionals trying to escalate a patient´s condition, collaborate on a patient´s treatment or facilitate a patient´s discharge. Various case studies have shown that apps for secure healthcare texting not only reduce phone tag by up to 80%, but also foster a collaborative environment to improve the level of healthcare being provided to a patient.

Healthcare Messaging App Case Study

Wellcon case studyA Wellcon Medical Facility at the Salt Lake County Adult Detention Center case study provides an example of how a secure app for healthcare text messaging can reduce phone tag, streamline workflows, enhance productivity and improve the level of healthcare provided to a patient.

With no cellphones allowed inside the medical facility, communication with doctors was via a landline. It often took as long as fifteen minutes to get approval from a doctor to administer medication to patients, and it was impossible to securely communicate wound images or x-rays. Several hours of every nurse´s day was tied up waiting by a phone. The medical facility had a computer, but no HIPAA-compliant of communicating with the outside world until a secure app for healthcare text messaging was implemented.

Now, nurses in the medical center were able to securely communicate with doctors from their computer to the doctors´ smartphones. The delivery notifications and read receipts confirmed that the doctors had received the messages and the ability to upload wound images and x-rays meant that they were able to receive more accurate instructions on what treatments to administer.

By using a healthcare messaging app on their computer, in this particular case study from TigerText, nurses at the medical facility cumulatively saved eight to twelve hours per day, allowing them to attend to fifteen more patients per shift. Furthermore, all their communications were HIPAA-compliant.

Other Benefits of a Secure App for Healthcare Text Messaging

Whereas the case study above shows one specific use for a secure app for healthcare text messaging, there are many other scenarios in which accelerated communications can streamline workflows, enhance productivity and improve the level of healthcare provided to a patient. These scenarios are present in practically every aspect of running a medical center, irrespective of whether the organization is a small private practice or a large hospital network.

A healthcare messaging app can be used to improve the accuracy of appointment scheduling, or the efficiency of a hospital admission. The streamlining of an Emergency Room hand-off can be enhanced with a secure app for healthcare text messaging, while we have already seen how physician consults can be managed more effectively with apps for secure healthcare texting.

The ability of a healthcare messaging app to invite multiple parties to a discussion thread and share images and files fosters collaboration, and lab results can be delivered quicker with apps for secure healthcare texting so that decisions about a patient´s treatment can be made more accurately and in less time than a series of (unsecure) emails.

Possibly the most significant benefits of apps for secure healthcare texting can be witnessed away from the medical center environment. Nurses in the community can escalate patient concerns securely without having return to their bases to handover critical information, while on-call physicians can receive PHI on the go via a healthcare messaging app so they are fully prepared to treat their patient on arrival.

Apart from medical uses of a secure app for healthcare text messaging, audit trails can be created with a healthcare messaging app to monitor prescription hand-offs – fulfilling one of the conditions for Stage 2 Meaningful Use – while health insurance companies will be able to use the secure communication of PHI to process claims quicker and more accurately.

Apps for Secure Healthcare Texting: Conclusion

The cost of implementing a healthcare messaging app is minimal and apps for secure healthcare texting can be downloaded onto a computer or mobile device in a matter of minutes. Because a secure app for healthcare text messaging works in a similar way to other popular (but unsecure) messaging apps, individual users will require little training on how to use a healthcare messaging app except for how to log into and out of the software.

The only decision that healthcare organizations should be left to consider is which vendor should be chosen to implement a healthcare messaging solution. We would suggest that research be conducted into vendors with a history of regular upgrades, so that apps for secure healthcare texting remain up-to-date should there be a change in legislation, a change in technology or a change in working practices.