Secure Texting for Physicians
Secure Texting for Physicians
Why do Physicians Need Secure Texting?
Secure texting for physicians is a solution to the issue of sending and receiving Protected Health Information (PHI) over any electronic channel of communication. Although many physicians tend to prefer email over texting, issues exist with HIPAA compliance when emails containing PHI are communicated beyond a healthcare organization´s internal servers.
Once emails travel beyond a healthcare organization´s firewall, physicians have no control over their final destination. If an email address is mis-spelled, or if the intended recipient forwards the email on to a third party, anybody could gain unauthorized access to the Protected Health Information within the email. Furthermore, copies of emails remain on ISP´s servers indefinitely.
Unfortunately encryption for emails is not a practical answer. Every recipient of an email would have to have a decryption key that works on their particular operating system, and other requirements within the HIPAA Security Rule may still be unfulfilled – such as email accounts must have automatic logoff after a period of inactivity, or that mechanisms exist to remotely retract and delete all emails if a mobile device on which they have been sent or received is lost or stolen.
Secure Texting for Physicians the Most Practical Solution
Secure texting for physicians is the most practical solution to these issues as it enables medical professionals to retain the speed and convenience of mobile technology. Physicians can receive images, lab reports and test results as attachments, and collaborate on a patient´s healthcare with secure texting.
Secure texting for physicians has exactly the same versatility as email, and it complies with all the HIPAA requirements for sending and receiving PHI electronically. This is of particular advantage to healthcare organizations that encourage BYOD policies, as it has been estimated that 80% of physicians use a personal mobile device to help manage their workloads.
The simplicity of secure texting for physicians is that all it takes to become HIPAA compliant is for a secure messaging app to be downloaded onto a desktop computer or mobile device. Physicians then simply log into the app with a centrally-issued username and PIN to communicate with colleagues also authorized to use the secure messaging solution.
The Benefits to Physicians of Secure Messaging
The primary benefit to physicians of secure messaging is that mechanisms to ensure message accountability practically eliminate phone tag. This means no more waiting by the telephone to get the results of a lab test or to communicate instructions to healthcare staff, and more time attending to patients.
When integrated with an EMR, alerts can be sent directly to a physician´s mobile device – enabling them to filter out non-urgent messages and prioritize their workloads. Integration with an EMR also means that updating patient records can be a shared task between medical professionals, and not the sole responsibility of the physician.
Secure texting for physicians also allows medical professionals to receive PHI on the go. This is of essential value to on-call physicians, first response physicians and community physicians who may otherwise delay their treatment of a patient while waiting for the patients notes to be sent in a HIPAA-compliant manner.
Further Information about HIPAA Compliance and Secure Texting for Physicians
For further information about HIPAA compliance and secure texting for physicians, you are invited to download and read our “HIPAA Compliance Guide” – a free, comprehensive white paper that elaborates on the conditions that have to be in place for the compliant communication of electronic PHI.
Our guide to HIPAA compliance elaborates on why emails are generally not acceptable channels through which to communicate PHI and the technical aspects of how secure messaging ensures the integrity of PHI in transit and at rest, and prevents disclosure to unauthorized third parties.