Secure Healthcare Communications

Secure Healthcare Messaging

The recently-enacted Final Omnibus Rule revised the regulations relating to secure healthcare communications and the measures required to prevent breaches of protected health information originally contained within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) 1996.

Everybody who works in the healthcare industry has to comply with the revised regulations – including employers who provide HIPAA-covered healthcare plans, health insurance companies, administrators, fund managers and insurance brokers – but the changes will be most apparent in hospitals, where it will be necessary to implement secure healthcare texting to avoid penalties that can be imposed by the Department of Health and Human Services in the event that a breach occurs.

Bringing Secure Healthcare Communications Up-to-Date

The Final Omnibus Rule brings secure healthcare messaging up-to-date almost two decades after the original guidelines were enacted, and the revised regulations acknowledge the fact that changing work practices and technological advances have increased the risk of compromising “protected” health information.

A recent survey, conducted by the Health Research Institute, concluded that 81 percent of physicians use one or more personal mobile devices to access protected health information or communicate with their patients, leading to the possibility of a breach – especially when personal mobile devices are used within areas offering open Wi-Fi Internet access or on public cell phone networks.

The potential for protected health information being compromised also exists when a mobile device is lost, stolen, or sold. Consequently, the revised HIPAA regulations for secure healthcare messaging include the following criteria:

  • Organizations must develop a system of secure healthcare communications which has control over who has access to protected health information and how it is used.
  • Risk assessments should be regularly conducted to identify any threat to the integrity of protected health information or breaches of secure healthcare texting.
  • All patient data within the system should be encrypted in order that employees and sub-contractors can access the data without risk of a breach.
  • The system should also ensure that it is not possible for employees and sub-contractors to store protected health information locally on their personal mobile devices.
  • Procedures should exist in order that employees and sub-contractors can report the loss, theft or disposal of their device immediately and the user be removed from the system.

According to the HIPAA rule changes in 2013, when a breach of personal health information which is “unusable, unreadable or indecipherable” has occurred (usually because it is encrypted), it is not necessary to inform the patient or file a breach notification with the US Department of Health and Human Services.In addition to being penalized by the Department of Health and Human Services when a breach of protected health information occurs, organizations and individuals may also be subject to civil legal action brought by a patient whose personal records have
been compromised.

How Secure Healthcare Texting Works

Secure healthcare texting works by implementing an encrypted messaging platform. Secure healthcare communications between hospitals, healthcare professionals, employers, etc. keep the integrity of protected health information safe, and is far more secure than other methods such as standard texting or emailing. Secure texting for healthcare professionals allows anyone to securely communicate directly from their cell phones, while keeping it HIPAA compliant.

The owner of the mobile device can still use their cell phone, Smart phone or tablet to communicate with friends, family and associates, but any secure healthcare texting is performed secure texting application. In the event that the owner loses their mobile device or it is stolen, the administrator of the encrypted messaging platform has the capability of removing the user from the network and safeguarding the integrity of any protected health information that the owner may have had access to.

Secure Healthcare Messaging with TigerText

TigerText´s encrypted messaging platform provides the highest level of secure healthcare messaging by using a
cloud-based virtual private network to safeguard protected health information. Hospital administrators, healthcare professionals, employers, insurance companies and other contractors who communicate or access patient data using their personal mobile devices, will find the platform simple to use and little different from their usual texting practices.

Furthermore, with no software to download before being able to use TigerText´s encrypted messaging platform, individuals who use personal mobile devices in the course of their duties will not be inconvenienced by additional applications on their phones or tablets, although network administrators will be able to receive usage reports to maintain control over the flow of protected health information and to ensure all personnel comply with the revised secure healthcare texting regulations.

The TigerText encrypted messaging platform meets the criteria required for secure healthcare messaging and fully complies with the revised HIPAA regulations. It also offers many additional time and cost-saving benefits to organizations, including those listed below:

  • Members of a team can collaborate in real time when using the TigerText platform without risking the integrity of protected health information.
  • When used on personal mobile devices, the TigerText platform eliminates waiting times while personnel find an available workstation to log-in to messaging accounts.
  • Secure healthcare communications by TigerText enable fast decision making when necessary to provide patients with the most appropriate care.
  • The TigerText secure healthcare texting platform sends read receipts to senders when messages have been read, which eliminates the need for follow-up calls.