These days, it’s not uncommon for people to prefer texting over phone calls. It’s become a much more convenient way for us to quickly share information to one another – and the healthcare industry is no different.
However, it wasn’t until the Covid-19 pandemic hit that those in healthcare really started considering private messaging as a reliable way to communicate with their patients. But what does this mean for doctor/patient confidentiality?
A global survey conducted by FICO found some interesting statistics surrounding communication between healthcare providers and patients that prove secure text messaging in healthcare is long overdue. Let’s have a quick look at some of their findings:
- 80% of people want the option to use their smartphones to interact with healthcare providers,
- 76% of people worldwide want text reminders of upcoming medical appointments,
- 69% of people want to receive reminders to arrange medical appointments or receive medication prompts,
- 56% of people globally trust healthcare organisations with personal data,
- 66% of smartphone users want to receive medical advice via digital channels instead of visiting a doctor,
- 71% of smartphone users are open to offers of relevant healthcare services from businesses,
- 53% of people are open to provider-initiated communications.
According to national HIPAA regulations, there are specific standards that healthcare providers must follow in order to protect the medical privacy of each and every patient when it comes to digital communication between both parties. This applies to everything from health plans to test results and even appointment dates etc.
Although text messaging hasn’t been expressly prohibited by HIPAA, there are certain safeguards that healthcare providers must follow in order to protect their patient’s private health information from being hacked or even just seen by someone other than the intended recipient. These safeguards include:
- Ensuring that unauthorised individuals cannot access a patient’s Electronic Patient Health Information (ePHI) by using strong encryption tools,
- All ePHI’s must have firm access controls in order to protect an individual’s private data,
- An individual’s ePHI must be protected in such a way that it cannot be altered or destroyed,
- All individual ePHI’s must maintain an audit trail.
The first and most important thing to remember when considering these HIPAA regulations, is that standard SMS do not follow these guidelines. They are easily intercepted, they aren’t encrypted (even iOS’s iMessage app isn’t) and it is surprisingly easy for hackers to access your private messages once they’ve “cloned” your mobile device. Or, another likely scenario, is that someone from your household or office gets their hands on your device and manages to snoop on your text messages – a situation that can also land healthcare providers in hot water.
Now, we know what you’re thinking, If messages are so seemingly easy to be seen by someone other than the sender and the receiver, how the heck are healthcare providers supposed to ensure utmost safety and confidentiality for their patients?
The answer is simple: Use YEO Messaging. Our features are all HIPAA compliant, our platform is fully encrypted and we use facial authentication (YEO Mode) to verify each one of our users so you know that the person you are communicating with is who they say they are. What’s more, our YEO Mode feature can be toggled “on” and “off” for specific messages, files, images and documents. This means that if the receiver wishes to view what has been sent, they must have their facial biometrics enrolled.
The YEO product is already being used by those in the health sector and we have recently partnered up with the Rhinoplasty Society of Europe as their go-to messaging platform.
Ready to try YEO when communicating with your patients? Download it here.