A HIMSS Analytics survey found that the majority of IT teams want HIPAA compliant secure messaging in their mobile communication solution.

hipaa compliant secure messaging

Source: Thinkstock

 By Elizabeth Snell

 – Healthcare IT teams are looking toward HIPAA compliant secure messaging options for their ideal mobile communication solution, according to a recent survey from PatientSafe Solutions.

Seventy-seven percent of IT respondents said secure messaging was their top driver in clinical communication selections, followed by voice and secure messaging consolidation (48 percent), and integration with critical results and alerts delivery (47 percent).

Administered by HIMSS Analytics, the State of Clinical Communication and Workflow study interviewed healthcare IT teams, clinicians, and clinical informatics professionals.

Healthcare stakeholders have different priorities with mobile communications, as 51 percent of clinicians and clinical informatics respondents said improving patient safety was the top driver. Faster response times between care team members (46 percent) and faster response times to patients (42 percent) were the next top mobile communication solution drivers.

“While IT may be more focused on regulatory compliance and improving secured messaging environments, and on the clinical side, improving response times, those goals intersect when it comes to leveraging a chosen technology for better care team coordination and real-time access to the pertinent patient information clinicians need to do their jobs,” report authors explained.

READ MORE: How Secure Messaging, Texting Benefit Healthcare Providers

The majority of both IT respondents and clinicians stated they want to see strong integration of workflow and communications capabilities within a unified application.

Three-quarters of clinicians said specifically that the communication solution(s) and clinical applications at their organization was not adequately integrated to support clinical workflows. Ninety percent of those respondents also stated their entity would achieve better clinical, financial, and operation outcomes with a unified application.

Workflows are also potentially being bogged down by team members juggling multiple devices to accomplish tasks, the study indicated.

Clinical and IT stakeholders showed a similar distribution of device adoption and usage, while 20 percent of physicians use smartphones 19 percent use pagers. Seventeen percent of nurses are likely to use legacy handsets and 21 percent said they use badges.

“The bottom line is they shouldn’t have to deal with this,” said HIMSS Vice President of Informatics Joyce Sensmeier, MS, RN-BC, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, FAAN, referring to nurses. “They are managing the patient situation, maintaining patient safety and keeping people alive. It’s shocking that the people doing this critical work are worrying about not having the right device, or information, when they need it. They should have a seamless workflow.”

READ MORE: Utilizing Secure Messaging in Disaster Recovery Planning

Fifty-nine percent of clinical informaticists said unsecure text messagingstill happens, with 39 percent of clinical staff reporting unsecure text messaging occurs even with secure messaging in place.

IT respondents had the lowest reported usage of unsecure text messaging, with less than 10 percent saying it occurred.

All three groups indicated that having a consistent, integrated, and secure approach to mobile device management (MDM) is increasingly necessary.

Approximately 70 percent of informaticists said managing mobile devices and consolidating existing ones was the top challenge to solving fragmented device and app usage. However, 40 percent also stated they do not currently have an MDM plan in place.

The study also reviewed stakeholders’ current experience with Wi-Fi. More than half of IT respondents said they had recently moved, or plan to move, to 5Ghz Wi-Fi for faster data transmission rates.

READ MORE: Using Secure Texting for Improved Patient Care, Data Security

Additionally, 78 percent of informatics staff and more than 60 percent of clinicians rated their Wi-Fi experience as neutral to excellent.

“It’s going to be a constant battle,” Bronson Healthcare Group CIO and CMIO Ash Goel, MD said in the report. “The move to 5GHz is the right direction to go. Wi-Fi providers now are providing multiband integration so devices auto-connect to the best available strength. But it has its limits.”

Fifty-three percent of IT respondents stated they are planning to expand their mobile communications platform beyond secure messaging.

Seventy-one percent of IT members said incorporating nurse call and telemetry alarms was a functionality that needed to be integrated, followed by critical lab results alerts (46 percent), and news alerts (43 percent).

Eighty-two percent of clinicians cited nurse call and telemetry alarms, with 27 percent saying there was a need for critical lab results to be integrated into the communications platform.

IT teams, clinicians, and informaticists all said it was necessary to leverage clinical communications platforms to address all care coordination needs. Eighty percent of respondents said communicating various results across care-setting boundaries was a top unfulfilled area. Proper post-discharge follow-up coordination (73 percent) and patient data access anywhere, anytime (74 percent) were also key areas that needed to be addressed.

“Today, clinicians, clinical informaticists and IT professionals are seeking solutions to improve, rather than impede, care collaboration,” researchers concluded. “Selecting sustainable solutions will be critical to effectively connecting the inpatient and outpatient setting.”