Effective Hospital Communications for Modern Day Healthcare
Physician and caregiver communication is available instantaneously with today’s mobile devices. The ability to communicate via HIPAA-compliant messaging software allows confidential patient information to be effectively shared via secure text messages or hospital pagers in time-sensitive situations. Spok provides health systems with HIPAA-compliant communication solutions that integrate seamlessly with current operations on any type of device or combination of devices.
Spok: At the Forefront of Secure, Critical Hospital Communications
With so many mobile devices in use, organizations need to rely on an enterprise communication system that can share information with all of them. Different people need different devices, depending on their roles. Some use smartphones or tablets, others use pagers or Wi-Fi phones. Many rely on a combination a mobile device and email to receive information.
Learn About Mobile Communications in These Areas:
Secure Smartphone Texting
Clinicians rely on smartphones, tablets, and increasingly wearables to provide fast, accurate communications that are the underpinnings of patient care and safety. Secure texting apps address the need for protecting protected health information (PHI) while messaging from these devices. Although many of these apps can be used at no cost to encrypt your text message, that’s really all they can do. With Spok Mobile you can simplify communications and strengthen care by also using your devices for patient consults and updates via third-party apps, to access and send images and video, receive secure code alerts and test results, and much more.
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Access the Staff Directory and On-Call Schedules
Mobile clinicians need the ability to easily message the right person on the right device. Spok Mobile gives users instant access to the organization’s directory, allowing staff to communicate with individuals or groups via encrypted text, image, and video messages. Staff can find individuals by name, as well as searching for keywords, such as “cardiology,” facilitating faster consult requests and communication with on-call personnel. Referencing a centralized, digital directory instead of a paper one gives users access to the most up-to-date contact and on-call scheduling information to reach the right provider and improve care coordination.
Security and Encryption
Spok Mobile uses industry best practices to guard the security of PHI. The solution offers a variety of security features, including encryption, application lock, automated message removal, password-protected inbox, and remote device wipe to keep messages secure in accordance with guidelines from HIPAA and the HITECH Act.
Receive Patient Care Alerts and Test Results
A lot more than just a texting app, Spok Mobile can receive alerts from patient monitoring systems such as heart monitors and ventilators when vital signs change. It can also connect ordering providers with test results from the lab, radiology, and other departments, enabling critical results to be seen quickly for fast response.
Mobile Device Management (MDM)
Spok Mobile integrates with MDM solutions like AirWatch®, MobileIron®, and XenMobile®, which gives end-users access to more security features. This also gives health system IT departments more control over the use of the application and content housed within the app.
Many hospitals need pagers for certain staff members, or to provide reliable coverage during disaster situations. But they also need to message to smartphones, wearables, and other mobile tools. This means maintaining a variety of communication devices to meet various needs. The Spok Device Preference Engine enables you to not only support your staff by providing secure, easy messaging to all of their devices, but also to let them choose their preferred device for particular situations.
DPE considers factors such as message priority to route a text-based or voice message to the intended recipient on his or her preferred device for that situation. The system can also add in escalation contacts in the event a message is not received and acknowledged in a pre-defined timeframe. The solution improves patient care by connecting staff more quickly for important conversations. It also reduces time spent calling around for doctors or waiting for responses.
Although pagers have been a mainstay in hospitals for decades, there’s no question that smartphones, tablets, and other devices have changed how people communicate in healthcare. But while some physicians and other clinical staff have migrated to using smartphones for time-sensitive communications, pagers remain key for many personnel, especially now that encrypted options are available for use in environments that demand HIPAA compliance. In fact, in a 2015 study of more than 450 hospitals, 57 percent of the organizations used wide-area paging, and 67 percent used onsite paging. Many leading hospitals are still maintaining their proven, affordable paging systems while adding many other device types to the mix.
The Spok Mobile secure texting app supports critical healthcare communications by integrating with the hospital’s directory and on-call information. Smartphones can work hand-in-hand with pagers, as both can receive alerts from patient monitoring, nurse call, and other communication systems via Spok. When hospitals evaluate communications technology, finding a partner that offers the ability to send messages to a variety of devices is key.
Pagers Can Complement Secure Text Messaging in Staff Workflows
Many healthcare systems today integrate pagers into their workflows and secure communications along with smartphones. In fact, ‘device diversity’ is a powerful approach. Truly effective enterprise-wide communications necessitate the ability to send various staff members a single message and have it received on whichever mobile device they carry. Hospitals need a communications approach that supports their workflows, which likely means different devices for different staff.
Many people don’t realize that some pagers—such as the T5 and T52, available exclusively from Spok— now offer an important advantage previously only available on smartphones equipped with a secure texting app: encrypted communications. Encrypted pagers can provide a secure communication option that is also highly reliable even when cellular and Wi-Fi coverage is spotty. This means that protected health information (PHI) can be shared among staff on pagers and smartphones seamlessly to meet industry guidelines for sharing sensitive information.
Tried, True, and Cost Effective
The fact is that paging isn’t old technology; it’s simple, reliable technology. Its value remains high for critical messaging. It’s not affected by lapses in cellular or Wi-Fi coverage. Additionally, paging is exceptionally reliable and cost effective. In fact, for the daily price of a cup of coffee, it’s possible to keep a pager on hand and ready to go. There is still nothing even close to paging from a cost-effectiveness perspective.
Learn More About the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
The HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information and applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers that conduct certain health care transactions electronically. The Rule requires appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information, and sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures that may be made of such information without patient authorization. The Rule also gives patients rights over their health information, including rights to examine and obtain a copy of their health records, and to request corrections. Learn more on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.
The HIPAA Security Rule establishes national standards to protect individuals’ electronic personal health information that is created, received, used, or maintained by a covered entity. The Security Rule requires appropriate administrative, physical and technical safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and security of electronic protected health information. Learn more on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (“HITECH”) adopted in 2009 was designed to enhance HIPAA enforcement and extend the provisions of HIPAA to business associates of covered entities. In 2013, a HIPAA Final Omnibus Rule made business associates directly subject to HIPAA as HITECH had directed. Together, HIPAA, HITECH and the HIPAA Rules are designed to establish a set of federal standards intended to protect the security and privacy of PHI. Many states have also adopted laws and regulations providing additional protections and requirements, some which apply more broadly or more strictly, than HIPAA/HITECH.
Spok maintains a number of security processes and policies to ensure compliance with HIPAA and HITECH. These policies are reviewed annually and maintained by the CIO’s office.