9 Questions to Ask Before Adopting Secure Text Messaging For Healthcare

secure text messaging for healthcare

Which secure texting solutions questions should you ask?

A report from 2016 noted that as many as 90 percent of hospitals still use pagers. The reasons for continued use of pagers vary from hospital to hospital yet they boil down to the following three points:

  • Cost – alternative technologies would be expensive
  • Technology changes – technology changes slowly in hospitals
  • Liability – pager alternatives leave hospitals open to liabilities

Doctors and their colleagues are also increasingly able to recognize the workflow issues caused by pagers and how they impede communication and the quality of the healthcare provided. They want a secure text messaging solution in healthcare but it is unclear what the solution should exactly entail.

As doctors and healthcare officials look to solutions to replace pagers, there are many specific questions they should ask. Here are some of the top questions your team should ask before adopting a secure messaging solution or a secure texting solution for your institution.

Question 1: Does the alternative secure text messaging for healthcare actually update pager technology?

When choosing an alternative to the pager or overhead pager, make sure your technology is encrypted, enables two-way communication and is able to efficiently integrate with hospital workflows.

Additionally, does the technology offering under consideration require a significant financial outlay on the part of the hospital or clinic? Or, does the technology easily work with existing devices such as smartphones? As over 85% of healthcare employees7 bring their own devices to work already, integration with smartphones is a way for facilities to control costs.

Question 2: Is the solution a HIPAA compliant technology?

The goal of HIPAA-compliant technology is to protect the privacy of individuals’ health information while allowing entities like hospitals to adopt new technologies that improve the quality and efficiency of patient care. HIPAA-compliance must be a key component of any secure messaging alternative your facility investigates. HIPAA-compliance is necessary to manage liability. As such, ensure that the company is able to articulate specific solutions to the following point:

The technology ensures the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all e-PHI individuals create, receive, maintain or transmit.

Data that is transmitted over the devices will be encrypted both at rest and in transit to ensure that messages are not improperly read or intercepted.

Messages will also be stored in secure data centers, separate from other hospital data and communications.

Question 3: Is the solution intuitive? Is it easy for users to easily get up to speed and use the technology? Is training provided?

While it might seem self-evident, ease of use and implementation should be another key component for administrators to consider when adopting a secure messaging platform for their healthcare institution. Indeed, the extent to which a person believes that using a new technology will be free of effort greatly impacts adoption. Considering how many users will need to adopt the technology, it is important that there be a relatively quick learning curve.

Does the technology have intuitive controls and interface? Are users able to find what they need quickly without excessive click-throughs? Do icons in the technology provide a strong sense of what the functionality should accomplish? These are all questions administrators should ask.

Additionally, there should be strong, 24-7 support if ever the user is stuck and is unable to access their device. Problems can arise at any time on any day. Don’t wait for a Sunday in August when your institution is having problems receiving messages to realize your chosen technology doesn’t offer weekend support.

Does the considered provider also provide training to your users if they need it? While the technology might be intuitive, there are always specific questions that users will want answered about how the technology handles certain cases. Make sure this level of care is provided.

Conclusion

Secure messaging solutions are one of the most sought after applications in healthcare13. However, not all solutions are created equal. The right secure messaging solution will provide more than just a pager alternative and HIPAA compliance. It will also improve workflow, ensure physicians never miss critical alerts and enhance administrative control over messaging.

Don’t let secure messaging remain an enigma. Make sure that you ask the questions above when your healthcare institution searches for the right secure messaging and critical alerting solution.

To find more secure text messaging questions to ask of your provider, download our whitepaper.

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