How to pick the right communication solution

November 25, 2017
Bill Ho

Healthcare workers can share confidential data between multiple people or applications easily and quickly while meeting HIPAA’s technical and administrative safeguard requirements.

Technology has been helping improve patient care since the dawn of modern medicine. With the advent of antibiotics, imaging, robotics and telemedicine helping disrupt the healthcare industry, patient care has significantly improved.

However, while today’s healthcare system is also more connected and more communicative with patients it has, unfortunately, also become more bureaucratic. And while doctors and nurses want to heal rather than type, gathering, recording and sharing patients’ medical data is critical to helping produce the best outcomes. 

HIPAA is part of the air we breathe, but it creates a pain-point for doctors who are duty-bound to keep data safe but accessible to those who need it-both other caregivers and patients.

The portability aspects of HIPAA address the growing need to share data with other healthcare workers for treatment, with payers and other business associates, and ultimately with patients who are increasingly curious about their medical records.

For physicians needing to send vital information to others, especially during a natural disaster, understanding the best way to securely share information is essential. How do you get an MRI to a specialist outside the hospital system? How do you share test results with a patient? 

Within a hospital system, EHRs have internal communications systems, or can open access to people who require it. But it’s challenging to send protected information to anyone who isn’t part of the system, or who may be in the same system but in a different hospital network. What do you do then? Secure document delivery systems can help. 

Leveraging the ubiquitousness of the web, and encryption technologies that enable secure tunneling and locking down data at rest, with desktop, tablet and smartphone accessibility -healthcare workers can share confidential data between multiple people or applications easily and quickly while meeting HIPAA’s technical and administrative safeguard requirements.

When it comes to preparing for the worst, ensuring that communication between teams is done securely and efficiently is critical to improving patient care. 

For those looking for solutions, here are a few critical questions and insights that will help you discover the right tools and vendor: 

Q: Will my team actually use the system?

It’s always frustrating to invest in a solution that might be technically superior but no one wants to use it. Look for intuitive solutions that are easy to use without sacrificing security.

 

Q: Will it meet my compliance requirements?

Set up time to understand the security architecture and how data is handled, shared and audited.

Q: Can it handle the type of information I’m dealing with? 

A good exercise is to list all the different types of data you expect to send. This can range from reports and medical imaging, to patient records, lab test results and authorization forms. Make sure the system can handle every file type you throw at it, but also remember to look at the maximum file size supported-medical imaging files can be very big.

Q: Who should use this?

Employees who deal with medical records, release of information or labs are often power users. But consider other use cases as well. For example, we surveyed our healthcare customers and in one case our secure file transfer solution was most used by the facilities team to share construction plans, followed closely by the legal team sending large data sets for litigation purposes.

Q: What do I have to think about on the back end for deployment?

Natural disasters, as an example, can put your organization at risk in many ways. Keeping back-end systems running is important, so support for redundancy and disaster recovery should be high on your list of requirements.

Q: What are other factors when considering a vendor?

Certainly experience and longevity matter with your vendor. Make sure they understand how to support the special needs of healthcare organizations and won’t disappear on you suddenly. Good customer support is often overlooked during the evaluation process. 

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