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Why You May Be Missing The Boat With Secure Messaging

August 27,2015

Missing Boat #1

Most secure messaging vendors promote the need for their app by focusing primarily on the security risks associated with traditional SMS texting. Given the vulnerabilities that exist along with the financial risk from texting non-secure PHI, they state that a HIPAA compliant platform is essential for protection.

This is certainly a valid “sales pitch.” Ensuring compliance and security no doubt are very important considerations. But frankly, if that's the only reason for partnering with a secure messaging provider, you're missing the boat.

Secure messaging can make the entire communication process within your organization more efficient by streamlining workflow, saving time and reducing costs. You can:

  • Broadcast a message to your entire team
  • Send HIPAA compliant instant messages using mobile devices, tablets and desktops
  • Create personalized groups of frequent contacts
  • Get time stamped and dated “read” confirmation for each individual member in a group message
  • Send patient notes and plans through the secure tunnel to be uploaded to any EHR
  • Download PDFs to put in a patient's chart
  • Share PHI and images instantly and securely
  • Remotely wipe data in the event of loss or theft

How does this benefit your organization?

  • A reduction in phone tag and emails
  • Cost savings by eliminating wasteful redundancy
  • Improved communication and collaboration between hospital-based and community providers
  • Significant time savings for prescription refills
  • Patient notes and plans can be sent through the secure tunnel and uploaded to any EHR
  • Quicker access to lab reports and discharge summaries
  • Patient questions and concerns can be addressed in seconds versus having lengthy phone calls

So while the “pitch” about needing a HIPAA compliant solution is valid, I suggest if you're considering implementing secure messaging that you focus on functionality and how the offering can eliminate time-wasters and improve efficiency, care coordination and ultimately patient outcomes.

Missing Boat #2

The majority of physician communication during the course of a day is not with other physicians but with their staff and nurses. Appointments are being set and confirmed, patient questions are being addressed, orders are being clarified, refill requests are being made.

Despite the ongoing physician-staff communication versus the sporadic physician-physician dialogue, many organizations have implemented secure messaging only for physicians. Here they're missing the second boat because the majority of daily internal clinical communication doesn't include all the key participants. That doesn't mean that the staff and nurses aren't texting the doctors, it just means that they're doing it in a non-compliant manner.

Just think about how secure messaging can improve communication and workflow between doctors and their staff and nurses.

A staff member needs an answer to a patient's question. She calls the doctor but he doesn't accept the call because he's doing an exam and cannot be interrupted. The staff member waits (and waits) for a response but eventually needs to leave her desk. The doctor then returns the call, misses the staff member and the phone tag cycle starts again.

With secure messaging, the staff member could send the doctor a text. If the doctor is tied up with a patient, he'll hear that he received a message which he can respond to when the patient visit is completed. Hours can literally be saved, productivity can be improved and costs from wasteful activities like phone tag reduced.

In a second scenario a nurse needs to communicate important information to a doctor. Diagnostic images, lab reports, pictures and documents provide detailed information about a patient's condition but can't be communicated through text only messages or with a phone call.

Through secure messaging, these files can be sent as an attachment by the nurse, reviewed by the doctor and the patient care plan can be implemented immediately. Time is saved and patient outcomes improved.

Secure messaging is really about improving workflow, saving time and reducing costs, with the added benefit that it is wrapped in the security required by HIPAA. Any assessment of whether or not to implement a secure messaging platform should be based on how it will improve the overall efficiency of your organization. And, if the decision is made to move forward, it's critical that all the key communicators are participating so that you can realize the workflow benefits of the platform.

For further information visit www.imyourdoc.com or call Micah Panning, Director of Sales at 406-529-5517