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Skyscape Blog

Why Secure Communication Is Important

Posted by Skyscape on Feb 6, 2019 9:26:33 AM

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Clear and effective communication between patients and Healthcare Professionals is an essential pillar of the healthcare industry. Many patients, along with regular clinic visits, prefer to connect with their Healthcare Professionals through electronic communications such as emails, SMS, text messages and chats. Data have shown that Healthcare Professionals find texting [1] to be an efficient and convenient means of communication.

The healthcare industry is adopting mobile messaging to work faster, improve patient care and to trim wasteful spending. But users ignore the fact that the messaging apps employed for daily personal use do not follow the HIPAA-recommended security and administrative guidelines. As per HIPAA regulations, communication about protected health information (PHI) in the healthcare industry should only be transmitted via secured medium.

A survey [2] conducted by Infinite Convergence Solutions and 451 Research in 2017 shows that mobile messaging is the premier activity for business use of mobile devices. Mobile messaging even surpassed email and voice calls. This survey also cites that 70 percent of employees surveyed use smartphones for business purposes; whereas, only 9 percent of employees’ companies don’t allow the use of messaging services that have not been approved.

Employees using consumer-grade messaging apps within their healthcare workplace pose a great security threat to the organization.


Disadvantages of using unsecured messaging platforms:

  • Use of unsecured messaging platforms for transmitting protected health information (PHI) can lead to HIPAA violations and can levy hefty penalties and jail sentences
  • Unsecured messages are not encrypted and are open for data breaches
  • These messages do not facilitate sender and receiver authentication, and may promote fraudulent messaging
  • Informal messages are often stored on unsecured servers or phones
  • Should a phone with such messages be lost or stolen, PHI becomes compromised
  • Unsecured text messages or documents retained locally on a phone for record retention purposes is a big security threat
  • Such informal messages, as a result of the usage of abbreviated terminology, auto correction or misspelling of the drug or the patient name, increase the risk of miscommunication. This may result in a medication, or other medical errors.

It is expected that the number of employees using mobile messaging will continue to grow, and the security, privacy and compliance risks that accompany will also increase.

In order to mitigate these disadvantages, healthcare organizations should implement an enterprise- wide secure messaging strategy. But when it comes to secure messaging, organizations need precise apps that are secure, HIPAA-compliant and easy to use.

Adopting a secure messaging platform, will aid the healthcare organization to easily comply with strict regulatory and security requirements.

Advantages of using a secured messaging platform:

Secure text messaging platform help Healthcare Professionals to:

  • Establish secure and confidential communication between physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, patients and other Healthcare Professionals
  • Protect information during transmission by having high-level encryption
  • Share critical patient records rapidly and securely for making better informed decisions
  • Reduce medical errors
  • Enhance convenient file sharing and attachments which include text, images, audio, and video
  • Enable better health monitoring and reporting
  • Acknowledge message delivery and read notifications
  • Increase productivity by using faster and easier communication modalities
  • Improve the efficiency and quality of treatment and overall patient care
  • Facilitate continuity of care between multiple healthcare service providers
  • Support multi-device features enabling anytime and anywhere access from any device
  • Reduce costs of communication such as printing, postage, fax and courier services
  • Promote transparency of cost and services
Conclusion:

HIPAA-secure messaging is an important component of healthcare communication. Healthcare organizations should ensure that they adopt secure mobile messaging methods moving forward. This will help their businesses to transform, protect sensitive data and improve workplace productivity.

 

References:

[1] https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-and-Certification/SurveyCertificationGenInfo/Downloads/Survey-and-Cert-Letter-18-10.pdf

[2] https://www.infinite-convergence.com/Press_Release_451_Research_and_Infinite_Convergence_Release_New_Study_that_Identifies_the_Growing_Risk_of_Consumer_Messaging_App_Usage_in_the_Enterprise

Topics: hipaa, PHI, healthcare communication, secure messaging, patient record, electronic communication, healthcare organization, sensitive data

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