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Text Messaging Apps for Hospitals

Text Messaging Apps for Hospitals

What are Secure Text Messaging Apps for Hospitals?

Secure text messaging apps for hospitals are central to the effectiveness of secure messaging solutions that can help healthcare organizations and other HIPAA covered entities comply with the administrative, physical, and technical requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule.

Resembling commercially available messaging apps, secure text messaging apps for hospitals provide the same speed and convenience for mobile devices, but with mechanisms in place to protect the integrity of Protected Health Information (PHI) in transit and prevent unauthorized disclosure.

Secure text messaging apps for hospitals can be downloaded onto any mobile device or desktop computer, making them an appropriate replacement for unsecure communication channels such as SMS, instant messaging and email. They are particularly beneficial in a healthcare environment that supports a BYOD policy.

What´s Different about Secure Text Messaging?

From a user´s perspective there are few differences between secure text messaging apps for hospitals and commercially available messaging apps. Once logged in to the messaging app, users can send text messages similar to SMS or IM, attach images and documents, or engage in multiparty discussion threads. The user interface is practically identical to ensure a quick uptake of the app.

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The differences that exist from a user´s perspective are intended to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of PHI when a desktop computer or mobile device is left unattended. Consequently the facility exists for administrators to assign message lifespans to text messages, so that they delete after having been read, and an automatic logoff function means that users will have to log back into the app following a period of inactivity.

From an administrator´s perspective, all activity conducted via the apps is monitored to ensure compliance with HIPAA guidelines and organizational usage policies. Administrators also have the ability to retract any message sent to secure text messaging apps for hospitals, or PIN-lock the apps if devices onto which the apps have been installed are lost or stolen.

How Secure Text Messaging Enhances Productivity

In addition to protecting the integrity of PHI in transit, text messaging apps for hospitals enhance productivity through 100% message accountability. Network monitoring, delivery notifications and read receipts accelerate the communications cycle and reduce phone tag – meaning that healthcare providers can spend less time waiting for a reply to their messages and more time caring for patients.

Productivity is also enhanced by secure group messaging protocols. HIPAA compliant group messaging fosters collaboration and accelerates procedures such as hospital admissions and patient discharges. A report published on CNN Money concluded that hospital discharges could be accelerated by an average of 50 minutes using secure text messaging apps for hospitals – saving an average medical facility more than $550,000 each year in lost productivity.

  • Healthcare providers can receive PHI “on the go” with secure text messaging apps for hospitals – a particular productivity enhancing benefit for on-call physicians and community nurses.
  • When integrated into an EHR, the task of updating patient notes can be shared between healthcare providers, allowing physicians to better prioritize their EHR alerts and workflows.
  • Secure text messaging apps for hospitals require no capital outlay and are inexpensive to operate when compared to other – often unsecure – communication channels.

One addition benefit worth noting is that to patients when secure messaging solutions are integrated into EHRs. A study conducted by the Tepper School of Business at the Carnegie Mellon University found that EHR integration in Pennsylvania hospitals led to a 27% reduction in patient safety issues and a 30% reduction in medication errors.