At the recent Health Information and Management Systems Society conference, Verizon announced a service that could allow medical providers to communicate in a manner that is fast, safe and compatible with existing internet browsers. This development may help those integrate newer advances to improve existing medical answering services in a way that increases HIPAA compliance.
This new system is called Secure Universal Messaging Service (SUMS) and is intended to be simple to implement. The messages would be similar to email and grant all sorts of caregiving professionals the ability to send text, images and other forms of medical files of all types with ease. There is also a focus on security, as SUMS would utilize commonly recognized methods of data protection, such as two-step authentication, encryption and logging.
This last piece is especially relevant, as concerns over EHR security have become increasingly high. Vulnerability of data will be a key issue in the coming months as SUMS exits its beta state. It is currently scheduled to be ready for widespread use by May.
In a piece that appeared on eWeek, Verizon Innovation Incubator Vice President Dr. Peter Tippet stressed how dire the current state of healthcare messaging is.
"There are still a lot of things not working as far as medical records moving anywhere," he said. "Imagine if you had to do your job and you couldn't use email, but everyone else could. That's how doctors feel."
Whether this announcement leads to the kind of sea change in communication it seems to predict remains to be seen. The incorporation of internet services into existing medical infrastructures remains an important piece for developers to keep in mind, as this is more practical than a proposal that would require a full overhaul and might lead to better solutions sooner.