The Benefits of HIPAA-compliant messaging
It took several years after the passage of HIPAA for institutions to realize that the exchange of PHI through devices like pagers represents a HIPAA violation like any other unsecure exchange. Healthcare now realizes that pagers not only put institutions in the position of potentially violating HIPAA statutes, pagers also:
- impede effective communications
- lengthen hospital stay for patients
- increase the expense of patient care
To avoid these pain points, hospitals need to adopt HIPAA-compliant messaging. In this whitepaper, we will look into:
- Why pagers don’t cut it
- What is required for HIPAA compliant messaging
- What are the benefits of HIPAA compliant messaging
Why pagers don’t cut it
The basic reason why pagers are ineffective for healthcare is because they run the risk of broadcasting sensitive patient information. In a specific case in North Carolina, a nursing home facility used pagers to transmit a patient’s lab results. Although only authorized officials saw the message, the nursing home was slapped with an “e-level deficiency”, meaning there was no actual harm but potential for more than minimal harm.
At issue was that pagers have no way for encryption so it could have easily been the case that the patient records were viewed by unintended individuals. This result would have caused a serious financial penalty for the nursing home.
What is required for HIPAA-compliant messaging
Failing to abide by HIPAA requirements can lead hospitals to face a significant financial loss. So what is required to ensure HIPAA compliance? The necessary statutes to ensure HIPAA-compliant texting are:
Confidentiality – All messages exchanged that contain PHI must be SSL encrypted in transit and at rest.
Integrity – The full message containing PHI can be viewed only by the receiver and the sender and cannot be altered. For enterprises – additional to Sender and Receiver, only authorized personnel Super Admin can view message content.
Availability – All messages must be retained for 6 years.
Protection against anticipated disclosures – Message content cannot be compromised. As such, databases need to be located in a secure and compliant hosting facility. Additionally, enterprises need to be able to remote-wipe messages in case it gets lost or stolen
Workforce compliance– Every new employee gets trained regarding HIPAA rules upon joining the company
What are the benefits of HIPAA compliant messaging
Avoiding HIPAA fines
While obvious, the notion that HIPAA compliance is a virtue in and of itself cannot be overlooked. The impact of HIPAA fines inevitably goes back to the consumer who will be asked to bear the burden of increased costs for hospital visits as well as increased premiums for insurance.
Security of patient information
Another obvious win from using secure messaging is that patients know their information will be secure and will not be compromised. Seven out of ten people are likely to choose a hospital that hasn’t been plagued with security issues. So, knowing that their information is secure also lets patients know that they run less risk of potentially dealing with the theft and improper use of their healthcare records.
Clearly, there are multiple advantages to switching to HIPAA-compliant messaging from insecure pagers or other forms of insecure messaging such as email or standard SMS. Healthcare institutions need to understand that by continuing their use of unsecured messaging platforms, they not only hurt their bottom line but inevitably hurt their patient.
To read more about the benefits of HIPAA-compliant messaging, please download our whitepaper.