Secure Text Messaging for Healthcare
Secure text messaging for healthcare has become an important compliance problem for hospitals with HIPAA regulations clearly stating that patient information must be kept secure at all times. Healthcare faces immediate risk as the need to integrate technology into a facility’s workflow increases. The use of mobile devices allows staff to improve communication regarding patient information with fellow workers, but this puts the facility at risk – violating HIPAA regulations. In addition there is a general security concern. Standard text services allow, messages on devices to be read by anyone, they lie unsecured on telecommunication providers’ servers, and they can easily be intercepted and read in transit. Without a solution using secure text messaging for healthcare, facilities risk patient information being intercepted while violating mandatory compliance laws.
With a secure text messaging for healthcare solution, healthcare facilities enable their staff to work both efficiently and easily while maintaining each of their patient’s privacy when transmitting PHI. A secure solution enables communications to improve while remaining HIPAA compliant. The best way to solve the issue surrounding mobile device usage is to identify the various risks and select a solution that will resolve these problems.
When considering a secure text messaging for healthcare solution, facilities should evaluate the following to ensure an effective answer for their concerns:
- Patient risks with current policies
- Healthcare staff’s mobile device usage
- Current administrative approaches to BYOD initiatives
- Sample policies or templates for implementing secure healthcare texting
Patients Are at Risk Without Secure Healthcare Texting
Without secure texting for healthcare, patients are unknowingly risking their information being circulated insecurely among hospital staff and possibly people outside of the hospital. Facilities today try to maintain an up-to-date system with the latest technologies, but that means that patients risk their personal data being transmitted over an unsecure network, such as one connected to a mobile device. When the patient is talking to a hospital member via email or text message, or dictating their information to a physician’s mobile device, this information becomes unsecure data unless a facility invests in a secure solution for their patient’s safety.
Instead of unknowingly allowing information to be transferred openly among hospital staff, a solution requiring secure text messaging for healthcare allows a patient to communicate with their physician without risking their privacy. While allowing information to be kept between the patient and the hospital staff, this solution facilitates speedy results and answers to reach the patient safely and efficiently. Patients are no longer at risk with secure healthcare texting.
Staff Utilizes Open Communications Without Secure Healthcare Text Messaging
Although it allows staff to easily communicate amongst themselves and even with patients, using an open communication channel puts their patients’ at risk and violates HIPAA regulations. The use of mobile devices in their facility leaves staff members encountering the same risks. While staff uses mobile devices because of the ease of use and convenience of already owning a smartphone, these devices insecurely transmit PHI to others. In addition, there are the general security risks attached to standard mobile device usage. Using standard messaging or other applications, instead of secure healthcare texting, increases the possibility that a staff member may send sensitive information to the wrong user. Without a secure text messaging for healthcare solution, staff could also lose their device and have no way to maintain the privacy of the information stored in their cell phone.
Implementing a solution that includes secure texting for healthcare allows staff to continue using their mobile devices to send patient information while maintaining patient privacy. In addition, some solutions do not allow the device to locally store messages and can even erase them remotely. These features allow staff to correct mistakes such as sending the wrong staff member patient information, or clearing a phone after it is lost or stolen. The right secure healthcare text messaging solution utilizes an easy-to-use platform that will maintain staff communications without putting others at risk. Maintaining security does not have to interfere with staff procedures, but can optimize them.
Administration Decreases Productivity Without Secure Texting for Healthcare
While trying to maintain HIPAA compliance at a facility, administration may address the problem of mobile device usage by applying a “No Texting Policy” for their staff. Although this seems plausible on paper, administration still faces the possibility that staff members may incorporate their personal mobile devices into their workflow. Although their policy states that staff members do not text, if PHI is transferred on a mobile platform, facilities risk violating HIPAA regulations and the accompanying fines.
Instead, administration can address this problem while increasing the efficiency of their staff and maintaining the procedures and routines already in place. With a secure texting for healthcare solution, administration can follow any regulations set forth to their facility while allowing staff members to incorporate their mobile devices into their daily tasks. With the use of mobile devices, administration is supporting a system where staff members can quickly communicating among each other and patients while safely transmitting any information. Secure healthcare texting solutions can be customized to the current processes of a facility so that administration can painlessly resolve any issues surrounding mobile device usage. As an added benefit, administration is allowing increased productivity with a secure text messaging for healthcare solution.
No matter where the priority lies in a healthcare facility, addressing the risks attached to unsecure usage of mobile devices not only fixes the problem, but can optimize the workflow of the facility. The use of secure text messaging for healthcare allows administration, hospital staff and patients to communicate efficiently while maintaining current hospital procedures and the privacy of their patients. To further address the risks and realize what elements a facility should focus on, staff or administration can download secure texting guidelines to apply general recommendations to their facility’s needs. Sample policies allow facilities to view the general steps of implementing a secure healthcare texting solution and the elements they should consider. Unlike the use of a “No texting policy”, addressing the risks of mobile device usage with secure texting guidelines allows all aspects of a facility’s communication channel to be evaluated and resolved with the concluding solution.