- CATEGORIES: Doctors and Hospitals,Improve Your Practice,Technology,Technology for Business,Technology for Nurses,Technology for Providers
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By Brian Fleig, RN, Rose Moon, RN, and Charu Raheja, PhD
HIPAA regulations have long prohibited nurses and doctors from sharing patient information through text messages due to their non-secure nature. At the same time, doctors and health care agents need easy access to patients. While technology evolves, patients expect quick and efficient interaction with their healthcare providers. A new module created by TriageLogic allows an alternative to healthcare providers seeking the speed and convenience of text communication (see release http://triagelogic.com/secure-texting/). This new messaging system allows triage nurses to send HIPAA compliant texts to on-call providers through a secure, encrypted system. We surveyed nurses and physicians trying the new system to learn how to utilize it and the benefits it provides.
How Does this System Work?
The average text message that goes through a major carrier’s phone network is not secure, preventing it from being HIPAA-compliant. Messages sent through TriageLogic’s system, however, are encrypted, providing the security necessary to protect patient confidentiality. Once a text is received, doctors are able to decrypt the message and read it in its entirety. The patient’s contact information is also included, allowing doctors to contact their patient directly rather than communicating with the nurse triage beforehand.
Advantages of this Text System
Healthcare providers that use secure medical text messaging from TriageLogic’s text system report several benefits. The most prominent advantage is increased efficiency. Nurses are able to quickly and efficiently provide doctors with pertinent information without worrying about the data’s security. Doctors are able to refer to the information on their cell phone (where it remains for 4 days), making it easier to review each call with a patient’s primary provider.
Secondly, physicians also find that secure texts can help remove the need for redundant communication, leading to quicker response times and a better patient experience. Because a doctor has all the information he or she needs, there is no need for a lengthy call back to the nurse. Doctors who receive a text in the middle of the night are able to read and reference the information as needed, rather than trying to remember a voice call when woken up out of sleep.
Nurses using secure medical text messaging with TriageLogic’s system also express their excitement about the tracking features incorporated into TriageLogic’s text system. The sending nurse receives an indication that lets him/her know the doctor has read their text. With this form of closure, nurses do not need to then verify with the patient that they received a call from the doctor, saving them time and ensuring patient care.
Finally, both doctors and nurses are pleased with the level of security this kind of system provides. Healthcare professionals are able to exchange information clearly, efficiently, and within the boundaries set forth by HIPAA, leading to more effective communication and a better experience for the patient. Healthcare professionals with overburdened smart phones like the fact that there is no special app or software necessary to use this system. Users who prefer email can also securely access the information through this medium. At no point does information enter public cell phone networks, nor can any other individual decrypt the text, ensuring the system remains compliant with HIPAA regulations.
What To Read Next: HIPAA Omnibus Rules: Are you in compliance? Oct 13, 2013