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How Providence Anesthesiology Leveraged Smartphones to Improve Communication with Field Staff

Healthcare providers have a challenge ahead of them if they are to improve communication with field staff and other mobile workers; how to do so without exposing patient data and violating HIPAA Rules. Providence Anesthesiology Associates opted to use a secure messaging platform to help stay in touch with critical members of the care team, and is now reaping the rewards.

Communicating with mobile workers and field staff is convenient, fast and easy via Smartphones; whether they are owned by an employee under a BYOD scheme, or provided by employers. However, ensuring communications remain HIPAA-compliant is difficult. PHI cannot be transmitted via insecure channels, meaning standard communication methods available through mobile devices cannot be used. If PHI is to be transmitted via an insecure channel, HIPAA requires the data to first be encrypted.

To ensure remote workers do not inadvertently violate HIPAA Rules by using insecure channels to communicate PHI, HIPAA –covered entities should consider using a HIPAA-compliant text message platform that will allow the transmission of PHI without risking a HIPAA violation.

How to Leverage Smartphones to Improve Efficiency?


Providence Anesthesiology Associates pondered the same question. The anesthesia and perioperative care group from North Carolina was looking for a HIPAA-compliant real time messaging solution that would allow its clinicians, physicians and off-site workers to communicate with each other quickly and efficiently, and of course, safely and securely.

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Due to the high number of off-site workers employed by the healthcare service provider, a secure SMS message service was appealing. All off-site staff could stay in contact via their mobile devices, and could securely communicate and transmit PHI, if required. Jordan Deuink, Information Management Officer at Providence Anesthesiology Associates, said “Because the majority of our clinicians work at various sites throughout the state, we needed a secure communication tool that would help us quickly reach one another and expedite response times.”

The benefits of secure text message service are clear. Faster communication between care teams cuts back on wasted time, improves staff morale, ensure patients receive care faster, and the service can increase the number of patients that can be visited each day. Furthermore, the system can be deployed quickly via the installation of a secure messaging app on users’ phones.

According to TigerText Co-Founder and CEO, Brad Brooks, by using its app, “staff can communicate everything from scheduling and appointments to patient updates and prescription orders, helping improve daily workflows and enabling them to better facilitate care.”

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.