Secure Texting and HIPAA
The subject of secure medical texting has received a lot of attention recently due to the changes implemented in the existing Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) by the Final Omnibus Rule of March 2013.
The changes introduced new conditions under which the secure messaging of medical information could take place in order to be HIPAA compliant, and they extended the scope of the act to include “associates” who provide third-party services to the healthcare industry.
The introduction of secure texting to be HIPAA compliant was intended to safeguard the integrity of protected health information (PHI), but there have been a considerable number of spin-off benefits to organizations, medical professionals and patients.
What is Secure Texting (and how is it HIPPA Compliant?)
Secure texting (to be HIPAA compliant) involves the transmission of messages containing encrypted data across various devices and platforms, within a virtual private network to which only authorized users can gain access.
What is different between secure medical texting and other forms of communication (emails, pagers, etc.) is that messages sent by secure text can be remotely erased in the event that the authorized user´s mobile device (smartphone, tablet, PDA, laptop, etc.) is lost or stolen.
Secure messaging within the medical industry also enables communications about patients to be added automatically to the patient´s Electronic Medical Record (EMR) – something which has to be done manually when messages are received via email, pager or standard SMS.
The Benefit of Secure Medical Texting for Organizations
Secure medical texting benefits organizations far more than simply complying with HIPAA regulations. In addition to keeping communications secure when they transmitted between team members, secure medical texting can also increase efficiency within an organization.
- Team members can collaborate in real time – irrespective of how far apart they are – eliminating delays because one member is out of town and cannot log in to messaging account.
- Secure medical texting systems automatically generate read receipts, so there is no need for the transmitter of a message to make follow-up calls to ensure a message has been received.
- The system features also allow administrators to review audit logs and create “message lifespans” to ensure that transmitted PHI data is deleted after a set period of time.
The Benefit of Secure Messaging for Medical Professionals
According to a study by the Health Research Institute, more than 80 percent of medical professionals communicate protected health information or access patient data via their personal mobile devices due to changing work practices and the convenience of modern technology.
One issue that this has raised is the unintentional breaches of PHI due to a personal mobile device being lost or stolen, or because the medical professional has communicated sensitive patient data on an open cell phone network or in an area with a publicly accessible Wi-Fi service.
As all PHI now has to be encrypted and stored on a secure messaging platform, medical professionals (and the organizations that employ them) no longer have to be concerned about the integrity of PHI when it is communicated between colleagues.
The Benefit of Secure Texting within HIPAA for Patients
With a quicker and more reliable way to communicate within a healthcare environment, the biggest benefit to emerge from secure messaging with the medical industry has been for patients.
Case studies have shown that medical professionals have been able to attend to a greater number of patients, and provide each of them with a higher level of healthcare due to the implementation of secure texting which is HIPAA compliant.
One other benefit of secure texting within HIPAA for patients – although not possibly of prime concern when they are receiving medical attention – is that their PHI will remain secure between the medical professionals who are treating them.
Secure Messaging for the Medical Industry with TigerText
TigerText´s encrypted messaging platform enables secure medical texting via a cloud-based “on demand” application. Healthcare professionals and sub-contractors who communicate PHI using their personal mobile devices, or who need to access sensitive data in the course of their work, will find the application easy to understand and simple to use.
With no complicated software to download before being able to use TigerText´s encrypted messaging platform, authorized users will not be inconvenienced by using the platform for the secure messaging of medical information; while administrators will find the platform helps them to manage the transmission of PHI and ensure compliance with the revised secure texting HIPAA regulations