Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Secure Messaging for Medical Clinics: 5 Features You Must Have

In the Canadian healthcare industry, communication technology has lagged behind due to the belief that security and reliability aren’t achievable through modern efforts. As the inefficiencies of working with out-dated forms of communication pile up, the need for a secure and efficient alternative has risen to the forefront.

The answer comes in the form of secure messaging. Without a doubt, over the next five years secure medical-grade messaging will do more to advance patient health than any single drug or medical device.

The question is not whether you should be using secure messaging in your practice, but which secure messaging platform is the smart choice. Complete privacy protection and regulatory compliance are a given first criteria, and if not proven by a potential vendor, run away.

Here are the five factors that will guide your decision as you select the secure messaging service that will modernize the way your entire clinic operates.

1. Proven Technology

Protecting privacy is not a part time job. You can’t afford for your secure communication platform to take breaks. Look for a service that is established and has gone through usability and functionality refinements in real clinic environments. Something that was just launched this year (or last year), will likely still have bugs that limit the benefit you receive from your investment.

2. Security Beyond Encryption 

Encryption on your end doesn’t guarantee encryption on the receiving end. This is because most encrypted solutions are one sided. The service you use should control the entire communication path and encrypt information at rest as well as in transit.

Even then, encryption is only one part of patient confidentiality compliance. Other important requirements that are absolutely necessary in order for a secure messaging platform to be compliant with the law include authentication and auditability. This means that the service must log every time PHI is accessed and by whom, so that in the face of an audit, you can present a certified list of all transactions on a patient file.

3. Usability 

Regulatory compliance and message security don’t necessitate complexity. Secure messaging services that have market experience understand and support clinical workflows. The service you implement in your clinic can’t bring a long learning curve that interrupts processes. Make sure services you’re seriously considering integrate into existing processes smoothly by trying them before handing over payment.

The interface should be easy to figure out without much coaching. Systems modeled after familiar email applications will have the fastest rates of adoption and minimize the adjustment period as you bring your clinic into the 21st century of communication.

4. Open Invites

The people you want to use this system with shouldn’t have to pay. You don’t want to add secure messaging service sales to your list of responsibilities. For a secure messaging service to be valuable, you need to be able to invite anyone, regardless of professional designation, patients included, without barriers to usage on either end.

Make sure the service you choose will be inclusive of everyone you need to message with in the daily functioning of your practice. Creating efficiency with only a subset of the people you communicate with subtracts value from your investment as you won’t be able to fully realize the clinical and administrative benefits delivered by secure messaging.

5. Support 

You’re making a change by implementing secure messaging. While the benefits clearly outweigh any argument against, change always runs more smoothly with expert help. Choose a service that offers robust support.

You’ll need live phone support and might want email and chat support too for less pressing concerns or questions. Because you’re inviting patients and colleagues to use the service with you, they’ll need support too. Some providers leave supporting those you invite up to you, and that’s not very supportive.

The best secure messaging service enhances your clinic

Implementing secure messaging can have a major impact in almost every part of your clinic, which translates to saved time and increased capacity. By following the guidelines above, you can be confident your clinic will get the most out of your secure messaging platform, creating maximum efficiency and generating measurable value for you and your patients.

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