Computers and Technology

The guide to Secure Messaging Apps in healthcare

Why Patients and Doctors Need Secured Healthcare Messaging Apps?

The healthcare industry is witnessing new ways of communication with hospital staff, doctors and patients using WhatsApp, a highly popular  messaging app for direct chat with healthcare professionals.

(1) loss of privacy on hospital apps for patients and 

(2) lack of data security on patient messaging software. 

These fears were  to be true by researchers studying the use of ‘technology’ in medical care  (Liu, Sutton and others, 2019). Their research also found that these critical digital information sharing loopholes can be overcome by using Secure Messaging Apps (SMA) for secure hospital communication, since this category of apps were in compliance with national portability and accountability laws for patient data  (Masoni & Guefli, 2020).

 What are Secure Messaging Apps?

Secure Messaging Apps use end-to-end encryption ensuring privacy and data security  and supports confidentiality, integrity and availability of data for efficient communication flow in e-hospital information systems. Patients can chat with healthcare professionals and share data records without fear of unauthorized access on the secure hospital

Seven key features of ‘secure’ messaging apps

Secure healthcare messaging apps ensure basic security, administrative functionality, optimizes communication addressing the technology needs of the hospital ecosystem.

1: Instant Healthcare Staff Text Messaging

An industry survey in the UK, reported that instant messaging tools were  daily for communication within clinical teams. Of the total surveyed, 72.5% found that real-time, ‘instant’ communication helped them become efficient. There were consistent ‘instant’ progress updates aiding better decision making. Instant healthcare staff text messaging ensured a collaborative work environment.

2: Easy Consultancy and patient follow-ups on Health Information

Researchers also found  improvement in hospital care as: secure messaging for physicians quickened doctors-peer communication, consultation time became shorter, workflows were streamlined and sharing of patient health information was streamlined. Follow-up of patients became simpler with secure healthcare messaging apps.

3: Patient Experience is seamless

Clinical teams reported every change in patient status, needs were efficiently shared via secure text messaging bringing connected patient experience. Traditional and older methods of data capture and sharing were very limiting in patient data they offered.

4:  Functionality of healthcare messaging app

When healthcare messaging apps include functions which integrate nurse call, monitor alerts, EHR, patient care becomes more intuitive and efficient.

5: Total security and compliance

Every healthcare messaging app should have basic secure communication which encrypts data and messages during transportation to prevent unauthorized , disclosure. For advanced security and compliance with HIPAA, the messaging app is  over the existing applications the hospital uses for EHR or patient lists and other scheduling, native clinical applications. 

 6: Staff Communication is Prioritized

Encrypted text messaging secured the data for easy exchange among clinical and non-clinical staff because of following features: 

  • Check-ins and Chats for Healthcare Organizations: for secure hospital communication
  • Team and Topic Channels for Healthcare Organizations
  • Call-to-Action Messaging: by which the medical staff can directly message using buttons – Access Patient or a Confirm Appointment, Join Team
  • Live Location Sharing -by the hospital control room using which one can monitor the staff on call
  • Contact Lists of Medical Staff : The staff can choose colleagues from the contact list that is provided based on a relevant keyword dependent on the departmentor the role of the colleague, the shift in which he or she is available or other criteria as defined by a hospital
  • Instant Emergency Signals: will ensure that medical experts are available within the group chat and necessary information relevant to the case and contacts are in rapid response to deliver patient care 

7: Remote patient care well supported  

This is one of the most important features of the healthcare messaging system. When patients are at remote locations and experts/consultants need to view and provide follow up, secure  apps are the ideal bridges to plug healthcare loopholes.  The consultation process is often quick and the follow-up process is instant. Hence it delivers quality service, and  at the same time does not compromise on the security of the confidential data used in the communication.

Why do you need to use secure healthcare messaging apps?  

Hospital settings need seamless communications for patient care and workflow. Tools like   messaging apps have proved to be game changers for such requirements. However,   research studies have found that commercial messaging apps ( for example, Whatsapp) lack features which address digital data protection laws stipulated by regulatory bodies HIPAA chat api (in the USA) and GDPR ( in the European Union). Healthcare messaging apps need to specifically ensure end-to-end encryption and protect privacy of the patient. 

Therefore, healthcare businesses should recognize the use of secure medical messaging apps such as messa nurse  line or similar healthcare industry specific  apps will ensure compliance with digital protection legislation. This will ensure your institutional data protection,patient privacy, simplified document discovery and information management practices. It will also ensure protection against industry recognized threats, protect against impermissible use and disclosure, and workforce compliance.

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