Secure text messaging applications for hospitals are important in relation to the effectiveness of secure messaging solutions that can help healthcare groups and other HIPAA covered bodies comply with the administrative, physical, and technical requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule.
Similar to commercially available messaging applications, secure text messaging applications for hospitals supply the same speed and convenience for mobile devices, but with mechanisms in place to safeguard the integrity of Protected Health Information (PHI) in transit and stop unauthorized disclosure.
Safe text messaging apps for hospitals can be installed onto any mobile device or desktop computer, making them an adequate replacement for unsafe communication channels including SMS, instant messaging and email. They are particularly good in a healthcare environment that supports a BYOD policy.
What Makes Secure Text Messaging Different?
From a user’s perspective there are few differences between secure text messaging applications for hospitals and commercially available messaging apps. Once signed in to the messaging application, users can share text messages similar to SMS or IM, attach images and documents, or participate in multiparty discussion threads. The user interface is practically identical to ensure a quick uptake of the application.
The differences that exist from a user’s point of view are intended to stop the unauthorized disclosure of PHI when a desktop computer or mobile device is left unattended. Due to this the facility is in place for administrators to assign message lifespans to text messages, so that they delete after having been seen, and an automatic logoff function means that users will have to log back into the application after a period of inactivity.
From an administrator’s point of view, all activity carried out using the applications is reviewed to ensure compliance with HIPAA guidelines and organizational usage policies. Administrators also can retract any message shared on secure text messaging applications for hospitals, or PIN-lock the apps if devices onto which the applications have been downloaded, lost or stolen.
How Secure Text Messaging Increases Productivity
Along with protecting the integrity of PHI in transit, text messaging apps for hospitals increase productivity through 100% message accountability. Network monitoring, delivery alerts and read receipts accelerate the communications cycle and lessen phone tag – meaning that healthcare suppliers can spend less time waiting for an answer to their messages and more time caring for patients.
Productivity is also increased by secure group messaging protocols. HIPAA compliant group messaging fosters collaboration and speeds up procedures such as hospital admissions and patient discharges. A report released on CNN Money found that hospital discharges could be accelerated by an average of 50 minutes using secure text messaging applications for hospitals – saving an average medical facility more than $550,000 annually in lost productivity.
- Healthcare suppliers can receive PHI “on the go” with secure text messaging applications for hospitals – a particular productivity enhancing benefit for on-call physicians and community nurses.
- When linked with an EHR, the duty of updating patient notes can be shared between healthcare providers, allowing physicians to better prioritize their EHR alerts and workflows.
- Secure text messaging applications for hospitals require no capital outlay and are cheaper to operate when compared to other – often unsecure – communication channels.
One additional advantage worth noting is that to patients when secure messaging solutions are linked with EHRs. A study completed by the Tepper School of Business at the Carnegie Mellon University found that EHR integration in Pennsylvania hospitals resulted in a 27% reduction in patient safety issues and a 30% reduction in medication mistakes.