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Keeping Your Clinical Communications Secure During the Mobile Revolution


Hi everyone, we are Alex Grilli and Rahul Shah, both ENT surgeons in Boston. Back in 2012, we created a mobile application called hippomsg to transform healthcare communication and make transmitting protected healthcare information as simple and quick as regulations allow.  Recently, we decided to focus solely on our patients and have begun the process of transitioning our customers to HipaaBridge.  We are excited to share our thoughts and expertise on secure clinical communications and care team collaboration within the Everbridge blog community, and we look forward to being regular contributors.  Here is our first post, make sure to check back for more.   


 Keeping Your Clinical Communication Secure During the Mobile Revolution


Data is only as secure as the systems that are put in place to safeguard it. Never have we seen this more clearly than in 2014, when data breaches of Target, Home Depot and Sony hit the news with frightening frequency. Even more worrisome were attacks on the websites of Anthem, Community Health Systems and Texas Health, all of which had sensitive patient records in their possession.


These days, patient privacy is not solely the burden of healthcare providers. The federal government has begun strictly enforcing HIPAA and more stringently punishing healthcare entities and practices that are shown to violate it. In past years, patients’ health information could be contained within closed networks. However, that is not the case today thanks to the emergence of tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices. Now, a healthcare professional is more likely to use a phone or laptop to access, update and distribute a patient’s information than to use a fax, the phone or the postal service.


Although these on-the-go solutions are incredibly portable and quick, HIPAA complicates the picture. For all the best reasons, HIPAA makes secure mobile communications a challenge. That’s because every transmission of protected health information must be compliant with the law. Basic SMS texting, as well as transmissions on an unsecured personal phone or computer, are in direct violation of the law and leave this sensitive data open to easy hacking and breaches.


It is a virtual certainty that mobile information transmission is here to stay. For that reason, healthcare facilities and medical practices are permanently modifying their systems to make their data servers HIPAA compliant. There is no quick or easy fix; the changes that need to occur will be methodical and incremental. The key is to allow staff to work safely and efficiently while furnishing maximum protection to the valuable patient information that is protected under HIPAA. Health tracking and HIPAA compliant secure texting apps are sure to take center stage in this safe data revolution.


Although there is still a great distance to travel before we can guarantee that patient information is totally secure and the law is being followed by most providers, HIPAA compliant messaging is already an option today. hippomsg, for example, is a totally free and constantly evolving messaging platform designed by medical professionals for medical professionals. It is already providing thousands of doctors, nurses and healthcare staff with a way to communicate seamlessly and securely with their colleagues. What’s more, they can relax in the knowledge that the patient information they are transmitting is totally encrypted and secure from hacking. If hippomsg is any barometer of the progress we will be seeing in this arena in the upcoming years, patients and their advocates can finally feel positive about their privacy.