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Secure Hospital Texting

Secure Hospital Texting

What is Secure Hospital Texting?

Secure hospital texting is a means through which medical professionals and other healthcare industry professionals can communicate Protected Health Information (PHI) in compliance with HIPAA. It works by creating an encrypted communications network within a healthcare organization that is only accessible by authorized personnel.

Access to the encrypted communications network is via secure messaging apps that can be downloaded onto any desktop computer or mobile device. In order to comply with the ID authentication requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule, authorized personnel log into the apps using a centrally-issued username and PIN.

The ID authentication process enables the monitoring of activity on the network so that any vulnerabilities can be identified and to ensure message accountability. Monitoring also ensures that authorized personnel are adhering to secure hospital texting policies to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of PHI to third parties.

In addition to the monitoring process, safeguards are in place to prevent PHI being sent outside of the organization´s network, copied and pasted, or saved to an external hard drive. Further security mechanisms allow for the remote deletion of texts and for the apps to be PIN-locked if a mobile device is lost or stolen.

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What Effect Does Secure Hospital Texting have on the Flow of Communication?

Secure hospital texting actually accelerates the flow of communication in medical facilities. Studies have shown that the mechanisms implemented to ensure message accountability reduce phone tag and enhance collaboration. Furthermore, group messaging facilities can accelerate patient admissions and patient discharges.

Patient concerns can be escalated with secure texting for hospitals, while physicians can receive alerts and PHI “on the go”. Lab reports and test results can be communicated by secure hospital texting. Wound images can be sent securely from the scene of an accident, and community nurses can provide updates on their patients´ health without returning to the office.

Authorized personnel will notice little difference between secure messaging apps and the commercially available apps they already use on a daily basis. Secure messaging apps have a text-like interface that most personnel will be familiar with and, when integrated with a corporate directory, enable the sender of a message to search for the intended recipient by name rather than by number.

One significant difference is the logon/logoff procedure. Secure messaging apps for secure hospital texting automatically logoff after a period of inactivity. This is to prevent unauthorized access to PHI when a desktop computer or mobile device is left unattended. System administrators also have the option to assign message lifespans to messages so that communications delete automatically after having been read.

Further Benefits of Secure Texting for Hospitals

The biggest benefits of secure hospital texting manifest when a secure messaging solution is integrated with an EMR. With “advanced EMRs”, the task of updating patients´ records can be conducted by any authorized member of staff with a Smartphone, and physicians can receive EMR alerts directly to their mobile devices and filter them to streamline their workflows.

According to a study by the Tepper School of Business at the Carnegie Mellon University, secure texting for hospitals can also have benefits for patients too. In a report entitled “Saving Private Ryan”, researchers identified that hospitals using “advanced EMRs” recorded a 25% reduction in procedural complications, a 27% reduction in patient safety incidents, and a 30% reduction in medication errors.

Secure texting for hospitals is also a cost-effective way in which healthcare organizations can implement a solution for HIPAA compliant messaging. In addition to the staffing costs saved by higher efficiency and productivity, research has shown that a secure messaging solution can be 40% less expensive to operate than other HIPAA compliant channels of communication.