What is HIPAA secure messaging?
HIPAA secure messaging means that the exchange of patient information – often referred to as protected health information (PHI) – between physicians, nurses and hospital employees takes place via a secure and encrypted platform which 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 on to the cost and time it takes to care for a patient. The Ponemon Institute notes that pagers cost the healthcare industry approximately $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 can be assured that they will get a quick response to their texts and that they can then return their 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 was not lost in a full inbox or among dozens of voicemail messages and 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 care of the process 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.
E-Book: 8 HIPAA Compliant Messaging Myths Dispelled
In healthcare, over 68% of security breaches are due to the loss or theft of personal mobile devices. Conventional thinking says that this is the fault of smartphone use but in 8 HIPAA Secure Messaging Myths Dispelled we explore how:
- Using pagers instead of smartphones hurts the efficiency and security of hospitals
- Using smartphones in the right way can actually improve patient outcomes and enable them to leave the hospital sooner
- HIPAA secure messaging can improve healthcare communications by 43%