5 ways to enable secure patient messaging

Rocket.Chat Content Team
September 15, 2022
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5
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The healthcare sector is undergoing a significant digital transformation. Patients increasingly gravitate toward healthcare providers who provide digital capabilities such as self-scheduling, in-app reminders, and, most importantly, secure patient messaging.

Furthermore, digital healthcare innovations allow for intense medical and non-medical staff collaboration within and across organizations. Therefore, HIPAA-compliant messaging is required to enable digital healthcare communication while remaining compliant with important data privacy regulations.

Today healthcare-related businesses are rethinking how they communicate with their patients. Due to emerging technologies that promise a better, safer, and faster way to communicate with patients, phone and email communication are no longer preferred.

Read on to find out why secure patient messaging is becoming a prevalent way to talk to patients and how you can ensure that you stay compliant with HIPAA.

Communication in healthcare is evolving

The way we communicate as a whole is evolving. Younger generations are more likely to use instant messaging and chat solutions in their daily lives for private conversations and business communication.

And the older generations are catching up. As more patients become digitally literate, they require a modern means of communicating with their healthcare providers, and secure patient messaging helps enable that. 

The following figures demonstrate the digital communication trend in healthcare:

1. 57% of patients expect doctors to send automated texts, voice, or email reminders. 

2. 68% of consumers choose healthcare providers that offer to book, change and cancel appointments online. 

3. In digital communication, messaging seems to be the most effective way to talk to patients: 98% of text messages are read, 28% on email, and 7% on patient portals

Why enable two-way messaging with patients?

HIPAA-compliant patient communication can save your staff hours. Personal, efficient text communication can also increase patient retention and positive online reviews. Short-staffed care teams can devote more time to patient care and less to administrative tasks.

So let's look at 5 advantages of enabling two-way communication with patients:

1. Meet your patient's needs and preferences.
More patients want to receive important information via text.

2. Double down on secure communication.
Messaging over secure, HIPAA-compliant tools ensures maximum data confidentiality and minimizes human error risk (the #1 cause of data breaches).

3. Improve patient satisfaction.
Less waiting on the phone, reaching providers faster, and having all information at their fingertips.

4. Optimize the doctor's time.
Avoid empty time slots by automatically sending patients a message to rebook an appointment dropped by another patient.

5. Improve operational efficiency.
Less time spent on communication by your staff. 

Providing a secure HIPAA-compliant patient messaging platform

What is HIPAA-compliant messaging?

HIPAA-compliant messaging is instant messaging that follows HIPAA guidelines. In the world of healthcare, HIPAA compliance reigns supreme. HIPPA - The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 - applies to all healthcare providers, insurance companies, and health technology companies. This federal statute specifies how patient health information should be safeguarded and managed.

And according to the HIPAA journal, there is a 25% year-on-year increase in healthcare data breaches. Moreover, the total cost of data breaches in the healthcare industry in 2020 was a staggering $13.2 billion

Research also shows that people are more privacy-conscious than ever before: 32% of people are willing to or have already switched companies or providers over their data privacy policies

Get on board with HIPAA compliant-software

Here are five ways that software is made HIPAA compliant.

1. End-to-end encryption

One of the requirements for secure messaging is end-to-end encryption. As the name implies, the message is encrypted and can only be decoded by the conversation participants. Because third parties and even administrators cannot see the message, potential eavesdroppers are prevented from intercepting communication.

2. Access controls

HIPAA's goal is to prevent the misuse of PHI. As a result, HIPAA guidelines state that parties handling PHI should only see the "minimum necessary" information to carry out their responsibilities. With access control, you can grant different levels of access to patients' data, reducing the possibility of information misuse.

3. Emergency measure

HIPAA governs not only privacy and security but also breach notifications. When an emergency, such as a data breach, occurs, specific HIPAA procedures must be followed. As a result, HIPAA-compliant software should be set up to back up data regularly. In an emergency, it should also be capable of restoring critical business data and PHI.

4. Monitoring activity

HIPAA-compliant software must keep records of PHI-related activities for a minimum of six years. To automate activity monitoring, HIPAA-compliant software must record all login attempts, including unsuccessful ones and logins from unusual devices and locations.

5. Physical storage security

HIPAA-compliant software should keep data in a safe place. This includes data storage's physical location, which must be within the United States. Cloud storage solutions such as Google Cloud Storage, Amazon Web Services, and Azure are popular options for healthcare-related businesses.

However, in the healthcare industry, on-premise deployment is frequently chosen. On-premise deployments provide organizations with complete control over their data and are an excellent way to reinforce HIPAA compliance.

Bonus: Open source technology 

Many messaging apps, such as MS Teams and Slack, are developed in-house. This means that they own the code and do not share it. Although this may appear to be a benefit, open source code has far more advantages. 

For one, the code has flexibility, transparency, and no hidden data misuse. Also, the developer community reviews the code, identifies potential risks, and improves the platform to prevent cyber attacks. For example, Rocket.Chat's GitHub community currently numbers over 30k people, indicating that the code is constantly being improved. 

However, the greatest benefit of open source software in healthcare may lie in its flexibility. It can adapt to legacy software as well as more complex systems that we meet in healthcare. This makes it easy to introduce and manage the functionalities you want.

5 best HIPAA-compliant patient messaging platforms 

Here are some options for providing secure patient messaging:

1. Rocket.Chat 

patient messaging

Rocket. Chat is a multifaceted solution for secure healthcare communication. Companies that use Rocket.Chat have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to consolidate all healthcare communication into a single app.

This HIPAA-compliant chat app allows you to communicate with patients, coworkers, and vendors. Rocket.Chat provides omnichannel customer support, allowing patients to contact the company via WhatsApp, email, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, and other channels. It also offers white-labeling and can function as an API Hub for linking patients' PHI, insurance, coverage, video, and chat between doctors and patients. 

2. OhMD

patient messaging

OhMD's mission, according to the company, is to reimagine the patient experience by providing texting and video communication without using an app. Furthermore, the OhMD platform can communicate with other OhMD physicians, pharmacists, or clinicians. Supported EHR integrations allow for more efficient communication with patients and colleagues.

3. WELL

patient messaging

WELL is an enterprise healthcare communication platform. It enables two-way messaging within patients' preferred channels while streamlining conversations on the organizations' end in a single inbox. WELL includes automated appointment scheduling, appointment reminders, appointment confirmations, and other patient-friendly features in addition to HIPAA-compliant messaging.

4. Weave

patient messaging

Weave is a HIPAA-compliant chat application that aims to replace phones, SMS texting, team chat, and other communication methods. Dental, physical therapy, and medical clinics use it. Weave's unified platform makes it simple to interact with patients, including online scheduling, e-forms, text messaging, analytics, and more.

5. Updox

patient messaging

Updox is a healthcare communication platform that offers telehealth, secure texting, and electronic forms. Its HIPAA-compliant secure messaging aims to improve patient and staff satisfaction, increase work efficiency and document the care process. Users adore Updox for its ease of use and versatility. Updox facilitates easier document management and a more effective relationship with patients for office administrators.

Rocket.Chat can help you stay HIPAA compliant

As digital communication becomes the norm in society, replacing some aspects of traditional clinical communication with digital may be critical for ensuring that digital generations have access to health care. 

How information is shared via digital channels is changing in today's society. Currently, clinicians and patients are using digital communication to solve problems, and there are now policy imperatives to use it.

For those who demand a new way of thinking about healthcare provision, there is an opportunity to reconsider how we provide continuity of care through continuity of communication. Clinicians and young people emphasize different benefits but agree that modern and quick clinical communication improves the ability of people to manage their condition. It also changes clinician-patient relationships, and brings high quality healthcare closer to more people than ever before.

Discover more about Rocket. Chat for healthcare and contact our team to learn how we can help you support your patients.

Our HIPAA-compliant chat assists in automating key touchpoints, improving provider collaboration, reducing phone calls, and much more. This healthcare communication tool enables healthcare-related businesses to provide patient-centric support on their website and through an in-app chat.

Rocket.Chat Content Team
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