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HIPAA Compliant Texting

We’re quickly seeing HIPAA compliant texting as a standard in healthcare. Certainly there are some organizations that are resisting, but I fear for those healthcare organizations that are letting SMS run rampant in their organization. SMS is not HIPAA compliant and so that’s a real risk for an organization that allows it to go on. However, I’m seeing organizations across the country adopting a secure text messaging solution.

I’ve often said that the best way to solve a problem is to make doing the right thing easy or better than doing the wrong thing. This can easily be applied to HIPAA compliant texting. I outlined 11 reasons why a secure text message solution was better than SMS before and one of those reasons wasn’t the fear of HIPAA. Can someone really argue that SMS is better or acceptable?

Besides the argument that secure text messaging is dramatically better than SMS, the great part is that a plethora of secure text messaging solutions are available that are just as easy as SMS. I’m personally bias to docBeat since I’m an advisor to them and they’ve created a really great product. However, there are lots of other dedicated secure messaging companies including TigerText, docHalo, qliqSoft, and many more. Plus, that doesn’t even include large companies like Imprivata who offer Cortext and even athenahealth’s Epocrates has secure text messaging built into their product.

The day will soon come when a hospital gets hit with a HIPAA violation (possibly during a HIPAA audit) and insecure SMS will be the culprit. Considering the advancements in secure text messaging options, hospitals won’t have anywhere to hide. It’s very clear that there are HIPAA compliant options available and so I can’t imagine they’ll be lenient with organizations that aren’t doing something about it.

I’d love to hear your experience with HIPAA compliant text messaging. Do you use it in your hospital? What do you love or hate about it? Are you still using SMS?

July 23, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

A Quick Hospital View from SXSW

I’m in the middle of the arduous two-fer of HIMSS and then SXSW. I guess I should call this the year of the enormous conferences since I started the year at CES. The amazing thing is that healthcare is starting to have a larger and larger presence at CES and SXSW (of course it is HIMSS). I personally came to SXSW with a number of goals in mind. Although, I must admit that finding something interesting for hospitals was not really on that list.

Fast forward to yesterday when I was taking a brief moment in the blogger’s lounge to get off my feet, power up, and browse what was happening online. Across my Twitter stream came a tweet from one of my hospital colleagues that included the hashtag #sxsw. You can imagine my surprise. In fact, I thought for sure that she must have just been watching the SXSW proceedings from back at her Ohio home. I dropped her a message that I’d love to see her at SXSW if in fact she was at the show.

Well, I was wrong and she was indeed at the show. In fact, when I met with her I learned that not only was she at SXSW, but it was her second time attending. We joked about how amazing it was that she was able to get the travel/training approved for SXSW a second year. Of course, she tole me that she found a couple great ideas last year that they implemented, so it made the case for coming this year event better.

I actually talked with her about a new Physia product which we haven’t announced. Plus, I suggested she check out docBeat’s secure messaging for healthcare solution while she was at SXSW since she mentioned wanting a secure text message solution for their residents. So, even if she finds nothing else, I think she now has something interesting to take back to her hospital that she wouldn’t have seen if she wasn’t at SXSW.

I guess the leaders of SXSW were right when they said that you never know who you’re going to meet at SXSW. They call it serendipitous interactions. Obviously it was quite a surprise for me to meet this hospital connection in Austin when I live in Las Vegas and she lives in Ohio. I have a half dozen other interesting interactions that I would have never expected at SXSW. On the one hand the event is so large that you don’t know where to turn and what to do next. On the other hand it’s been a tremendous experience meeting and learning from people across the spectrum of life.

I’m not necessarily suggesting that every hospital needs to come to SXSW, but I’ve been surprised how even a healthcare IT nut like me could find much value at SXSW.

March 11, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Hospital Aren’t Supporting Nursing Smartphones

Here’s one more example of where Bring Your Own Device is causing security problems for hospitals. A new report by Spyglass Consulting Group suggests that while most nurse use personal smartphones on the job, few hospital IT departments support these devices.

According to Spyglass, 69 percent of hospitals said that their nurses use personal mobile devices, often to fill in gaps left by the technology the hospital provides for communication. This is no surprise. While there’s an armada of personal nursing devices which allow nurses to communicate with other staffers, smartphones do a better job, as they’re light, boast an easy to use interface and unlike VoWiFi devices, unaffected by local network ups and downs.

It’s worth noting that 25 percent of care providers interviewed by Spyglass weren’t happy with the quality and reliability of the wireless network within their facilities.  That’s further evidence that VoIP devices commonly used for nursing communication aren’t riding on a solid base.

So, nurses are driven to use the smartphones they bring in from home.  Those phones become the basis for mission-critical communications around day-to-day care. But at the risk of repeating myself — OK, I’ve already repeated myself often on this subject — these unsupported, vulnerable devices can be hacked or stolen quite easily. If a phone is left in a public area, not only are nurses deprived of a critical communications channel, the e-mail or texts or voicemails they’ve sent regarding patient care has just walked off as well, offering bunch of private data in the clear. Plus, there are free solutions to this communications, privacy and security problem like docBeat that are much much more functional than what’s on the nurses’ personal devices anyway.

According to the Spyglass researchers, who conducted 100+ interviews with nurses working in acute care, hospital IT personnel are concerned about the increasing dependence of clinicians on personal mobile devices.  But I note that at least in the report summary written up by Healthcare IT News, you don’t hear about a stampede of hospital IT departments rushing to establish support policies and deploy enterprise-class mobile management tools. I must say, I’m not sure what they’re waiting for.

December 11, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies.