Secure Messaging is Benefiting Patients
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires secure communication anytime Protected Health Information (PHI) is shared between patients and their providers. In order to ensure PHI and related health information are shared securely – hospitals, healthcare systems, medical centers and/or the outsourced contact centers or medical answering services they’ve hired to take calls on their behalf – need a secure messaging framework. That framework should support secure messaging, a simple solution that is improving patient satisfaction and providing PHI security worldwide.
A 2010 study conducted at Kaiser Permanente found that 35,423 people with diabetes, hypertension, or both, reported a significant improvement in the effectiveness of care (as measured by the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set) received over a two-month period. The study attributed the improvement in care to the patient’s access to physicians via secure patient-physician email. In addition, the study found that patients who enrolled in their patient portal to send secure messages to doctors and access self-services are more likely to stay with the organization than those who do not participate.
While the study focused more on the direct communication between patients and physicians, many contact center and medical answering services are hired by a healthcare system to facilitate the transmission of communication between parties. The physicians own the relationship, but it is the responsibility of the contact center or TAS to ensure messages are delivered quickly, accurately, securely, and successfully to the patient.
For the physicians involved in the study who were concerned about being overwhelmed by the number of secure messages they’d received, many reported being underwhelmed. Many stated, “Patients were very respectful of the opportunity to engage in this format and they are very cognizant of the fact that it does take away from my other patients and responsibilities.”
As many providers have begun using secure message in place of in-person, follow-up appointments, experts believe we have just begun to scratch the surface with secure messaging. While some may scorn at the thought of a ‘digital’ follow-up appointment, which begins with the physician sending a secure message, such as, “After you’ve taken these new medicines for a couple of weeks, please send me a secure message with an update of how you’re doing,” to the patient, studies show that patients are embracing secure messaging. With greater access to physicians, better patient-physician communication and increased patient satisfaction – secure messaging is a win-win for all.
Startel offers communication solutions for Healthcare, including a HIPAA-compliant messaging application that enables doctors and their staff to exchange ePHI securely. For more information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.