Data breaches have become ubiquitous, as headlines continue to tout high-profile attacks with alarming regularity.
Cyber threats are particularly damaging in the medical industry, where Protected Health Information (PHI) – such as medical histories and personal/billing information – is continuously being filed, updated, and exchanged.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was established in 1996 to safeguard patients’ health information and history. It was updated in 2013, making all service providers processing, storing, or transmitting ePHI directly or on behalf of a healthcare organization subject to the same Privacy and Security Rules as the organization itself.
In the meantime, phone calls, pagers, and fax machines – while still widely in use – have taken a backseat to smartphones and text messaging in the medical setting, making HIPAA compliance even more of a hurdle.
Many medical practices have implemented Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. But standard SMS texts are not in any way encrypted or secure, and their usage in a professional medical setting could potentially leave practices – and their patients – open to data breaches, cyberattacks, hacks, and more.
Still, it is essential that doctors have the ability to review patient files and communicate with peers and medical personnel quickly and efficiently. The question then becomes how to embrace advancing technology while remaining conscientious – and compliant.
Secure texting solutions allow physicians to compose messages from a secure platform on their desktop or mobile device. The intended recipient is notified via a link to an encrypted message, which is accessible with a unique username and password. This allows doctors and support staff to consult about test results, potential courses of treatment, and more.
System administrators, too, are provided with access logs, allowing them to monitor and manage the security of said data. If a possible breach is identified or expected, administrators can implement certain safeguards – such as a remote wipe – to protect sensitive information.
Additional benefits of secure texting solutions for medical professionals include:
- Secure texting solutions offer almost instantaneous access to the information physicians and their care teams need. Doctors no longer have to wait for a tech to call with lab or X-ray results – which ultimately allows for more one-on-one time with patients, and a quicker path to recovery.
- Alerts allow clinicians to filter through non-important or non-urgent messages, streamlining their workflow and improving efficiency.
- Secure texting solutions also permit on-call physicians to access files while in transit, allowing them to make important decisions without delaying treatment.
Edwards Answering Service previously hired third-party firm ProTraining to conduct a comprehensive HIPAA compliance evaluation for our answering service. Our team passed an extensive 140 question assessment and implemented a number of updates – including an email server upgrade – to comply with HIPAA requirements.
We now provide our medical clients with a Secure Texting App, ensuring complete patient privacy. Using this app, we can send physicians and care providers a text, informing them that a new message waits. After entering a secure username and password, the user can then remotely log-in to a proprietary server to view their messages.
Edwards Answering Service’s Secure Texting App and encrypted email delivery can help you remain compliant with federal law while avoiding costly fines. For more information about our secure texting solutions, call 1-800-606-EASE(3273).