Secure texting for physicians can allow them to share and receive Protected Health Information (PHI) via any electronic channel of communication. Although most physicians tend to prefer email over texting, problems exist with HIPAA compliance when emails containing PHI are sent beyond a healthcare organization´s internal servers.
Once emails are sent a healthcare group’s firewall, physicians have no management power over their final destination. If an email address is not spelled correctly or if the intended recipient sends the email on to a third party, anybody could obtain unauthorized access to the Protected Health Information within the email. Additionally, duplicates of emails remain on ISP´s servers indefinitely.
Unfortunately encryption for emails is not a practical solution. Every recipient of an email would require a decryption key that works on their particular operating system, and other requirements within the HIPAA Security Rule may still be incomplete – such as email accounts must incorporate automatic logoff after a period of inactivity, or that mechanisms exist to remotely withdraw and delete all emails if a mobile device on which they have been sent or received is lost or illegally taken.
Secure Texting for Physicians as a Practical Solution
Secure texting for physicians is definitely the most practical solution to these problems as it allows medical staff to retain the speed and convenience of mobile technology. Physicians can be sent images, lab reports and test results as attachments, and collaborate on a patient’s treatment using secure texting.
Secure texting for physicians is as versatile as email, and it meets with all the HIPAA requirements for transmitting and receiving PHI electronically. This is of particular benefit to healthcare groups that encourage BYOD policies, as it has been calculated that 80% of physicians use a personal mobile device to help manage their workloads.
The ease of secure texting for physicians is that that is required to become HIPAA compliant is for a secure messaging app to be installed onto a desktop computer or mobile device. Physicians then just log into the app with a centrally-issued username and PIN to collaborate with colleagues also authorized to use the secure messaging solution.
The Advantages to Physicians of Secure Messaging
The main benefit to physicians of secure messaging is that mechanisms to allow message accountability practically eliminate phone tag. This means there is no delay to getting the results of a lab test or to communicate instructions to healthcare workers, and more time to treat patients.
When grouped with an EMR, alerts can be sent directly to a physician’s mobile device – allowing them to filter out non-urgent messages and prioritize their tasks. Integration with an EMR also means that recording patient records can be a shared task between medical professionals, and not the responsibility of the physician treating the patient.
Secure texting for physicians also permits medical professionals to be sent PHI on the go. This is of vital value for on-call physicians, first response physicians and community physicians who may otherwise put off their treatment of a patient while waiting for the patients notes to be shared using a HIPAA-compliant manner.