What is HIPAA secure messaging?
HIPAA-secure messaging is defined as the exchange of patient information – often referred to as protected health information (PHI) – between physicians, nurses and hospital employees via a secure and encrypted platform that adheres to the mandates of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.
Failure by healthcare employees to use a HIPAA-secure messaging application when exchanging messages that contain PHI can result in HIPAA fines.
What is required of a HIPAA-secure messaging app?
2013 HIPAA legislation passed by Congress requires:
- Upholding patient privacy (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996)
- The use and disclosure of PHI by “covered entities” such as health insurers (2003 Privacy Rule)
- Increased scrutiny of messages containing PHI as well as increased fines for noncompliance of up to $1.5million (2013 Final Omnibus Rule)
Healthcare institutions are moving to HIPAA-compliant messaging applications that provide secure messaging and uphold the mandates of HIPAA.
What are the benefits of using a HIPAA secure messaging app?
Decreased costs and improved efficiency
According to the Ponemon Institute, the use of traditional pagers in a healthcare setting adds costs and time it takes to care for a patient. Their research shows that pagers cost the healthcare industry an additional $11B per year.
These costs are the result of pagers causing delays in providing patient care as well as in wasted time from using pagers to coordinate care. Waiting to get access to the right doctor as well as exchanging the correct information are some consequences of using pagers.
According to a study by the University of Pennsylvania “patients whose hospital care providers used mobile secure text messaging as a means of communication had shorter lengths-of-stay compared to patients whose providers used the standard paging system to communicate”.
Physicians who prefer to exchange emails rather than send text messages face increasing scrutiny of their communication methods, guiding them to use HIPAA-secure messaging with greater frequency to ensure that any PHI is encrypted and secure.
HIPAA-compliant messaging applications also ensure message accountability and practically eliminate the need for physicians to play phone tag. This means that physicians can spend less time trying to reach out to colleagues and then wait for responses. Instead, they get quick responses to their texts and can better focus on their patients.
Nursing units benefit from faster, more complete responses from physicians and other colleagues. For example, a nurse needs a second opinion on an EKG. With HIPAA-compliant messaging, he can immediately forward the image of the EKG to a colleague along with comments. Because messaging that’s sent via the app gets attention, he can also be assured that the message does not get lost in a full inbox or among dozens of voicemail messages. For better accountability and peace of mind, he can see when the message is read.
Nurses can also speed up care and get more accurate diagnoses by transmitting photos, in a secure and encrypted manner, to the consulting physician.
OnPage’s HIPAA secure messaging for hospitals and clinics
OnPage’s encrypted messaging platform enables secure messaging for doctors through the exchange of secure text messages, images and voice messages. All communications are secure and encrypted and are hosted in OnPage’s SSAE-16 compliant facility.
The application is easy to use with a learning curve of under ten minutes. Administrators will find the OnPage platform equally easy to use and will be able to upload schedules and follow audit trails in a very short amount of time.
OnPage enables hospitals to offload the security burden many healthcare facilities face when they adopt smartphones as part of their clinical communication strategy. OnPage takes over the burden of encryption and security and HIPAA compliance and allows hospitals to focus on patient care.
By deploying the OnPage platform, hospitals:
- Securely exchange patient information. Physicians instantly and securely exchange vital PHI.
- Reduce delays in communications. OnPage instantly alerts physicians with a distinctive sound to ensure that the message gets attention. The system can be set up to continue alerting until the message is acknowledged, unlike pagers which only page the recipient once and are unable to provide a read receipt. With the combination of these features, OnPage speeds up responses five times faster than pagers.
Guide: 6 HIPAA-Compliant Messaging Myths Dispelled
Discover six common misconceptions about HIPAA-compliant messaging that could put your business at risk for data breaches, miscommunication and regulatory fines.
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