Using Text Messaging to Accelerate Patient Discharge Times
A 2013 study conducted by the Ponemon Research Institute in Michigan revealed that, when it is possible to accelerate patient discharge times with text messaging, patient wait times could be reduced by up 50 percent – with healthcare facilities saving on average $557,253 per year.
The researchers´ conclusions were drawn after 577 clinicians, IT practitioners and other healthcare professionals were surveyed about using text messaging to accelerate patient discharge times as opposed to the continued use of pagers and other outdated communication technologies.
However, it was also notable that the majority of respondents commented that HIPAA compliance requirements restricted the use of personal mobile devices to communicate, and also made it difficult to access the protected health information (PHI) that medical professionals needed to complete the patient discharge process.
What HIPAA Has to Say about Discharging Patients Communication by Text
The use of SMS and email to communicate PHI was effectively banned in 2013 when the Final Omnibus Rule enacted regulations relating to security and privacy within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Although not specifically banning the practice of using text messaging to discharge patients, the regulations “require covered entities to implement procedures and policies to restrict access to, protect the integrity of, and guard against unauthorized access to PHI.”
Guidelines were produced which would allow using text messaging for patient discharge provided that the following conditions were met:
- The implementation of a secure texting platform that allowed authorized users access to encrypted data maintained on a secure server
- The prevention of unauthorized access to PHI which included stopping authorized users from saving PHI to external hard drives such as desktop computers and mobile devices
- Any secure texting platform that was implemented had to have the facility to remotely delete text messages and remove users if a threat to the integrity of PHI was identified A messaging policy had to be developed to inform authorized users on how to accelerate patient discharge times with text messaging in compliance with HIPAA
- The use of the secure texting platform has to be monitored by system administrators to ensure authorized users are complying with the texting policy
Consequently, provided that the guidelines are adhered to, there is no reason why the use of personal mobile devices should be restricted, or access to PHI difficult, and it would therefore be possible to accelerate patient discharge times with text messaging.
Accelerate Patient Discharge Times with a Text Messaging Platform from TigerText
TigerText provides secure HIPAA-compliant text messaging to more than 3,000 medical facilities, which is not only used to accelerate patient discharge times, but also for a multitude of procedures.
Their secure texting platform works in a similar way to SMS text messaging, and complies with the conditions for using text messaging to accelerate patient discharge times by enabling authorized users to access or send PHI through a SAAS solution.
As the application works across multiple platforms, authorized users can collaborate simultaneously with access to lab results and x-ray images in order to accelerate patient discharge times with text messaging, and pre-determined “lifespans” can be attributed to each communication so that messages are automatically deleted once the discharge process is completed. The TigerText platform also produces audit logs and access reports in order that system administrators can monitor activity, and to ensure that when medical professionals are using text messaging to accelerate patient discharge times, they are doing so within the HIPAA regulations.
Develop Policies for Using Text Messaging to Accelerate Patient Discharge Times In order for medical professionals to be aware of the correct procedures for discharging patients by text, healthcare organizations have to develop “best practice” policies to prevent a breach of PHI and ensure that private patient information is not compromised.
We have compiled a white paper – “Top 8 Secure Messaging Policy Best Practices” – which lists the most important components of a HIPAA-compliant text messaging policy and includes information on what should be included in a secure texting policy, guidelines for using text messaging to accelerate patient discharge times and how a secure texting policy can be integrated with other organizational policies. The white paper is free to download without any obligations or commitments, and thereafter you are welcome to contact uswith any comments or questions you may have with regard to using text messaging to accelerate patient discharge times.
Additional Benefits of TigerText´s Secure Texting Platform Case studies and testimonials showcase the various benefits of TigerText. Medical professionals now have the ability to receive PHI on the go with secure texting – enhancing doctor-nurse communications and enabling requests for physician consults to be acted upon immediately.
Automatically generated read receipts confirm that messages sent by secure texting have been received, and this eliminates phone tag when hospital staff are attempting to locate an on-call doctor or when a medical professional is required to urgently attend a patient in their home.
Indeed, the biggest beneficiaries of secure texting are patients. From the time they are admitted to the time they are discharged, secure texting facilitates a higher level of healthcare – with diagnoses being delivered quicker by secure texting, the patient receiving the most appropriate treatment sooner and making a faster recovery.
Speak with TigerText about Using Text Messaging To Discharge Patients
If the figures produced by the Ponemon Research Institute at the top of the page are accurate, the savings made from implementing a secure texting platform far outweigh any costs associated with discharging patients by text in compliance with HIPAA.
With TigerText´s secure texting platform – and a suitable policy to inform medical professionals on the best practices for using the application – it should be possible to accelerate patient discharge times with text messaging for the benefit of healthcare organizations, medical professionals and patients.
To learn more, you can download and read our “Top 8 Secure Messaging Policy Best Practices” and thereafter to contact us for further information on the best practices for using text messaging to accelerate patient discharge times.