This year alone, we have seen the increasing digitalization of healthcare technology, the rise of wearables, adoption of #mhealth apps by patients and physicians, and more regulations issued surrounding HIPPA, data security, and mobile health applications. There were also several studies released that showed the benefits of health secure messaging between physicians, hospitals, clinics, and their patients in managing chronic diseases, as well as in routine health management. All indications suggest that digital health will continue to be a burgeoning field of investment, development, and adoption by patients and their healthcare providers in 2016.
The following are our six predictions for what will happen with secure health messaging in 2016:
More Physicians Will Use Secure Messaging
The high cost of data breaches along with the risk associated with HIPPA violations, which can range from $100 up to $1.5 million, will increase the adoption of secure messaging applications by healthcare providers to protect patient data and ensure compliance with HIPPA.
The ease of secure messaging will reduce costs and improve communication, care coordination and patient outcomes.
Interoperability Will Be A Key Feature
In 2015, we saw pilot programs being launched by the Veterans Health Administration and state and local agencies to explore the benefits of secure health messaging in improving patient care. Outdated methods of communication such as faxes and pagers will be replaced by HIPPA compliant texting and paper medical records will be replaced by electronic health records. To ensure sharing of health data between public and private health organizations, interoperability will be a key feature in choosing secure messaging applications that are vendor neutral.
Secure Messaging Will Prevent More Hospital Readmissions
As more healthcare organizations make the switch to secure messaging for physicians, their staff, and patients, the ease of communication and quick access to critical medical information will improve patient compliance and reduce avoidable hospital readmissions.
One healthcare organization, the Idaho Kidney Institute, is already seeing the results of secure messaging in reducing costly hospital readmissions in patients with chronic medical issues. In 2016, as secure messaging is being adopted more rapidly, we will see the costs associated with hospital readmissions go down.
Legacy Devices Will Be Jettisoned In Favor Of #BYOD
Legacy devices such as pagers, and other gated devices will be jettisoned in favor of #BYOD devices. The attraction behind #BYOD is that personal devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops can be used by physicians to manage patient care without expensive set-up costs associated with these devices. However, there are valid security concerns with potential weaknesses in #BYOD devices that can be exploited by hackers.
We believe that in 2016 we will see a move away from unsecure messaging applications used by hospitals and physicians to secure messaging applications such as IM Your Doc, which is encrypted, and provides complete data security. Hospitals and healthcare providers also will need to develop #BYOD policies around the use of personal devices and the use of secure applications on these devices to ensure HIPPA compliance, and to protect patient data.
Patient Care Information Will Be More Accurate
Current gaps in communication between physicians and their staff have resulted in patient data that is incorrect, not updated, and missing vital care information. Incomplete records and the lack of patient discharge information also impacts coordination between hospitalists and primary care physicians.
The use of secure messaging applications will result in patient information that is logged into the system and is kept updated with necessary aftercare instructions for primary care physicians upon patient discharge from the hospital. This will result in improved coordination, fewer medical errors and improved patient outcomes.
There Will Be A Change In Meaningful Use Standards
Currently there is resistance to the adoption of secure messaging due to physician concerns about compliance with Meaningful Use Stage 2 and the use of financial incentives tied to Meaningful Use Stage 2.
We predict that CMS will consider physician input surrounding the use of financial incentives for secure messaging, and change some of the language that is a current roadblock to physicians. We do not think that physicians should be penalized if a certain amount of their patients do not use secure messaging or patient care portals. There are clear benefits to the use of secure messaging, and it is in the government’s interest to ensure wider adoption of secure messaging by healthcare providers.