The rules regarding healthcare messaging were recently revised in the Final Omnibus Rule – legislation that was enacted in March 2013 (effective September 2013) and which updated the existing Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH).
The revised regulations affect everybody who has access to protected health information or who engages in healthcare text messaging in the course of their work. Consequently, in addition to employers, healthcare professionals and health insurance companies, any organization or sub-contractor that provides third-party services to the healthcare industry also has to comply with the new healthcare texting legislation.
Due to changing work practices and technological advances, more than 80 percent of healthcare professionals now access protected health information or communicate patient data via their mobile devices (according to a study by the Health Research Institute).
The Centre for Democracy and Technology recently revealed that 66 percent of reported protected health information breaches are attributable to mobile devices being lost or stolen and the data on the devices being accessed by unauthorized individuals.
With additional breaches of protected health information occurring due to individuals using their mobile devices on open cell phone networks and in locations with publicly accessible Wi-Fi, the healthcare texting regulations had to change to safeguard the privacy and security of patients in HIPAA-covered health programs.
The revised healthcare messaging guidelines set the criteria for the conditions that should be in place before employees and sub-contractors can access protected health information or transmit/receive sensitive data on their mobile devices (Smartphone, cell phone, tablet, etc.):
Tough penalties are in place for any organization or individual who is responsible for a breach of protected health information, and patients have the right to initiate civil legal action if their private health data is compromised.
In order to comply with the revised HIPAA and HITECH regulations and secure healthcare text messaging, organizations should be implementing an encrypted messaging platform. Authorized persons can gain access to the data stored on the platform via their mobile devices, and be in communication with other authorized persons through the network, provided that they are within range of an Internet signal – which can be publicly accessible Wi-Fi, as the data that is being retrieved is encrypted.
The mobile device still operates as normal if the owner wishes to communicate with friends, browse the Internet or send private text messages; although emails should not be used to transmit protected health information, as emails are copied onto routing servers as they are in transit and can never be permanently deleted. In the event that the authorized user loses their mobile device – or it is stolen – the administrator of the encrypted messaging platform should have the facility to remove the user from the network and secure the integrity of any protected health information that has been accessed by the device.
TigerConnect’s encrypted messaging platform enables secure healthcare messaging by operating via a protected, cloud-based application. Healthcare industry professionals and sub-contractors who communicate patient data using their personal mobile devices, or who access protected health information in the course of their work, will find the platform easy to understand and simple to use.
With no software to download before being able to use TigerConnect’s encrypted messaging platform, authorized users will not be inconvenienced by using the TigerConnect platform, while administrators will find the usage reports suitable for maintaining control over the transmission of protected health information and ensuring compliance with the revised healthcare messaging guidelines.
The TigerConnect encrypted messaging platform for healthcare text messaging also provides additional benefits which reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve the standard of care provided to patients:
Authorized users are able to communicate simultaneously when using TigerConnect, and the platform enables teams of healthcare professionals to collaborate together in the same conversation even when they are many
To find out more about TigerText’s app for texting in compliance with HIPAA, you are invited to download and read our white paper – “Top 10 Considerations when Selecting a Secure Messaging Solution” – and then contact us with any questions you may have about secure texting apps in general or TigerText’s HIPAA compliant texting app V4.0.
Alternatively, you are welcome to read our case studies, which provide further examples of how TigerConnect’s secure messaging solution can enhance employee workflows, increase productivity and raise the standard of patient healthcare or request a free demonstration of TigerText’s HIPAA compliant texting app in action.
TigerConnect provides secure, real-time mobile messaging for the enterprise, empowering organizations to work more securely. TigerConnect’s encrypted messaging platform keeps communications safe, improves workflows, and complies with industry regulations.