As more and more healthcare organizations move towards utilizing their professionals’ own personal digital devices as part of their duties, one question that healthcare administrators will have to face is how to choose the right secure messaging platform. This is no small decision: choosing an incompatible or insufficient platform can be costly, both to the organization and to the clients.
In order to help make this important decision a little easier, here are five questions for administrators to consider when selecting a secure messaging platform.
Question #1: Is the platform HIPAA compliant?
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a secure messaging platform is whether or not the platform is HIPAA compliant. HIPAA guidelines exist in order to insure that clients’ protected health information (PHI) remains secure and confidential. The truth of the matter is that most SMS communications fail to meet the standards set forth by HIPAA.
Some of the features administrators will want from their messaging platform include end-to-end encryption, unique passcode and password settings, off-device storage of PHI, and the ability to remotely disable a lost or stolen device.
Failure to achieve HIPAA guidelines can lead to breach of sensitive client information. It can also lead to costly fines levied against the healthcare provider.
Question #2: How fast and efficient is the communication?
One of the biggest draws of utilizing personal devices and person-to-person digital communications is the increased speed and efficiency of communications between healthcare providers and with clients. Many healthcare professionals still rely on antiquated pager technology, which, while typically secure, make communication unwieldy. Therefore, when selecting a secure messaging platform, administrators should consider how efficient the package is.
Some features of a high-quality, highly efficient messaging platform include platform settings that automatically keep professional messages separate from personal messages, seamless two-way communications, the ability to securely include attachments-- including photos, videos and audio recordings-- to messages, and easy-to-access information about who is currently on call.
Question #3: How easy is the platform to use?
Related to the efficiency of the platform is the ease of use. One of the main reasons that many healthcare providers are moving towards a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy for their organizations is that people tend to be most comfortable with their own devices. This results in an easy learning curve when adopting a person-to-person messaging policy.
Administrators will want a secure message platform that’s easy to implement. When selecting a secure messaging platform, organizations should consider what types of devices are supported by the platform. For instance, will the platform work with both Android and iOS operating systems? Also, organizations should also consider coverage when choosing a platform: a high-quality platform will integrate 3G, 4G, and wifi mobile networks.
Question #4: How thorough of an audit trail is provided by the platform?
A real benefit of a high-quality secure message platform is a detailed, actionable audit trail. When making their choice, administrators should look at the audit trail features offered by the prospective platform. The best platforms will provide an exact timestamp of when a message is delivered, read, completed, and deleted.
A thorough, accurate audit trail can support accountability and PHI security and is an essential feature to consider when deciding upon a secure messaging platform.
Question #5: How robust are the platform’s administrative tools?
Each healthcare organization is going to have unique messaging needs; therefore, it’s important that the platform decided upon is adaptable to fit the specific context. Robust, efficient administrative tools are an essential feature to consider when choosing a secure messaging platform.
Some of the administrative tools found in a high-quality messaging platform include full control of user access, thorough group and contact management, modifiable complexity settings when choosing passcode and password security, the ability to access a full audit of message history, and easy-to-access archiving. Lack of these tools will cause headaches for administrators and could result in a gaps in security and efficiency.