1. Increased Security
Healthcare organizations have to process enormous amounts of data every year, most of which is sensitive and requires very tight security. Not only do they deal with protected health information (PHI) but also sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers and financial data. As more and more communication goes mobile it is critical that healthcare providers maintain the levels of privacy and security that patients have come to expect. However, many physicians are struggling to balance the convenience of mobile communication with the additional risks it presents to privacy. 30% of doctors say they have received PHI via text even though text messaging is not considered HIPAA compliant.
In an industry like healthcare where time is often of the essence, some doctors may feel that the risks of texting are worth the gains in responsiveness. However, the risk to doctors isn’t just limited to losing patient trust. Communicating PHI in an unsecured fashion, like texting, is a violation of HIPAA regulations and carries heavy penalties.
First offense HIPAA violations result in a fine of $50,000 and multiple HIPAA violations can lead to fines in the millions. Yet, the problem isn’t limited to just physicians texting; a study of healthcare organizations found 61% reported at least one security breach during 2013 and these breaches are estimated to have a cost of $1.6 billion to the industry every year. Whether it’s texting, forwarding emails to personal accounts, or numerous other unsecured communication methods, preventing security breaches is of utmost importance to healthcare organizations for not only maintaining patient trust, but also limiting their exposure to damaging regulatory issues.
2. Improved Patient Care
HIPAA compliant messaging doesn’t only save a hospital from expensive fines and data breaches, it also improves patient care. A recent study found that inefficient communication triples patient admission time and doubles emergency response time. For years hospitals have relied on pagers as their main means of quick communication but they are a partial solution at best. While paging is certainly faster than using email and more secure than texting, it lacks in many areas. Receiving a page pulls a physician away from their main task in order to return the call and even text based pagers offer very limited messages.
Compliant messaging allows all healthcare providers to quickly communicate critical information with each other without taking them away from the task at hand. More efficient communication also results in nurses spending more time with patients and less time finding doctors. A study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that nurses spend up to an hour per day searching for doctors in a hospital, imagine if that time could be spent with patients instead. HIPAA messaging can make that possible by connecting nurses and doctors through an efficient and secure communication network.
3. Reduction in Errors
Medical errors are one of the biggest challenges facing the industry. Not only do they result in significant harm to patients, but they also result in significant costs in the form of malpractice insurance and lawsuits. While errors can happen for a variety of reasons they can often be linked to failure in communication between physicians or nurses. Approximately 80% of serious medical errors involve miscommunication between caregivers when patients are transferred or handed off. Equipping healthcare providers with additional methods of communication, especially secure messaging, where instructions are written and saved, can help dramatically reduce the occurrence of errors and significantly improve the patient experience.
Improved communication can also help in cases of medical disputes. In a study of 155 medical disputes 38% involved instances of miscommunication. Streamlined communication via messaging will not only reduce the number of errors and therefore disputes, but also leave a clear digital communication trail that can be used to resolve disputes when they occur.
4. High ROI
Secure messaging can have a critical impact on security and patient care and it also offers a significant return on investment. Poor communication is costly in any industry but it is especially costly in healthcare. Communication inefficiencies cost a hospital an estimated $1.7 million per year in wasted time. However by implementing HIPAA compliant messaging a hospital can help reduce these costly inefficiencies. In fact, using a form of secure messaging is estimated to save $918,000 per hospital on an annual basis. As mentioned previously secure messaging can be very beneficial when it comes to addressing medical disputes which not only tarnish a hospital’s reputation but also come with significant costs: disputes involving instances of miscommunication cost an average of $23,000 per incident to resolve.
5. Better Access to Information
Access to information is critical to healthcare providers as time is often of the essence. However, by limiting communication to in person or over the phone, healthcare organizations are not giving their providers the best tools possible. 39% of physicians feel time is wasted in communication because text messaging is not allowed. While the regulatory issues surrounding texting have been addressed previously, secure messaging offers an alternative that is just as convenient and fast as texting but complies with HIPAA requirements. Having patient information at their fingertips allows doctors and nurses to make patient care decisions faster and easily double check communications that would normally have to be done over the phone.
If you can think of any other ways HIPAA compliant messaging has benefited your organization please comment below! Visit our website to learn more about Lua HIPAA compliant messaging for healthcare and how Lua can help your organization.