How to Achieve Secure Mobile Messaging Success

Data security is ever-present in the minds of hospital CIOs, IT leaders, and others who work with hospital technology. These security concerns include how to protect and secure mobile communications, especially when physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals share protected health information (PHI). Eighty-one percent of CIOs are currently focused on strengthening data security, and 55 percent of hospitals are currently using a secure texting solution to address unsecured mobile messaging. If carefully executed as part of a larger mobile strategy, a secure texting app can be a highly successful way to secure clinician messaging and support patient care through integrations with key hospital systems.

For success, secure messaging projects must be designed maintaining focusing on larger hospital goals and considering all three legs of the stool: people, process, and technology. Each of these components is essential for effective change management in hospitals. Success also requires careful alignment among mobile strategies, security initiatives, and the communications ecosystem. The most successful implementations come from planning teams that include members from each of these areas as well as a thoughtful approach for achieving overarching hospital goals.

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How do you achieve success with secure mobile messaging initiatives?

Start with the larger goals of the hospital, get the right people on the planning team, and ask the question “How does mobile technology help us reach those goals?”

The Mobility Strategy

A mobility strategy is a high-level framework built to guide mobile device selection and deployment, inventory, maintenance and management, security, and support. At the core, developing a mobility strategy is an exercise in designing the best ways to support mobile care teams and patients to achieve the best outcomes.

Where to Begin

Start with the end in mind. Mobility strategies should be built upon larger business goals, such as “reduce door-to-doctor time in the ED by 15 percent,” or “improve physician satisfaction by 10 percent.” These objectives set the stage to identify what research is necessary, which stakeholders need to be involved in planning from the beginning, and most importantly, how the success of the overall plan will be measured.

Starting a mobility strategy by clearly articulating the end goals serves three very important purposes:

  1. It clearly defines the end result(s) and how they will be measured.
  2. It helps keep the mobility team focused and motivated to overcome obstacles along the way.
  3. It unites all stakeholders and end users behind a common purpose with clear benefits to the organization, individual health professionals, and to patients.

doctors talking around table

The People

After establishing the objectives, getting the right people involved in the planning team is key. This includes an executive sponsor, experts in hospital security policies and compliance requirements, representatives from the telecommunications team, technology experts, perhaps consultants, and especially the end users of the mobility strategies being established.

For details about which individuals should be involved and ​why, download the full guide >>

The Process

Security is a critical component of a secure messaging initiative that should be achieved within the context of goal-driven mobility strategies, and implemented thoughtfully to avoid unnecessarily complicating the user experience. Having clearly identified goals helps unite stakeholders and end users behind a common purpose with clear benefits. When doctors and nurses understand that their use of a new technology is a carefully planned piece of a larger strategy to improve patient care, it gives individuals some of the responsibility for helping achieve these goals.

mobile communications - secure mobile solution

mobile communications - smartphone and tablet

Another, perhaps more powerful motivator for change and end user adoption, is to provide users with tangible benefits for themselves. Begin with the goal of saving time for a doctor or a nurse, or simplifying their processes, and you’re already half way toward acceptance. This is where stakeholder input into process design is crucial. Having physician and nurse representatives on the mobile strategy team not only helps planners pinpoint process improvements to achieve large goals such as decreasing door-to-doctor time for patients in the ED, but it also helps the planning team identify and communicate end user benefits, such as reduced time waiting for test results by getting a text alert, or being able to connect with an admitting hospitalist faster.

The third sphere of consideration, the communications ecosystem, is required to understand if communication processes already in place will support a secure messaging solution, or if implementation will require workflow modifications or redesign.

The Technology

The last leg of the three-legged stool is technology. Look for a comprehensive secure messaging solution that has the ability to work with the hospital’s EHR, layers seamlessly onto the existing communications infrastructure of contact directory and on-call schedules, and also supports escalation pathways for critical unanswered messages that need fast response. All of these factors should be included in the technology selection process, with special attention paid to making sure solutions align with hospital goals, success criteria, and health providers’ workflows.

Coverage is Critical

critical coverage - cellular

critical coverage - Wi-Fi

critical coverage - cellular and Wi-Fi

Ensuring adequate mobile signal coverage is crucial to end user adoption and secure mobile messaging success, which ultimately supports mobile strategies designed to achieve organizational goals. Read more about getting your wireless infrastructure ready for secure texting.

Make It Happen

After selecting the new secure messaging solution, the work that remains is the nitty gritty of installation planning and implementing.

Pre-Deployment

The pre-deployment phase includes identifying what devices specific end users will use, what hospital systems they will need to access, determining penalties for noncompliance, and maximizing the cellular and Wi-Fi coverage.

Initial Trial

After establishing the mobility strategy goals and the processes/workflows included in the improvement plans, it is time to test the chosen secure messaging app with small trials outside of the planning group. The goals are to discover unforeseen hurdles, flesh out any remaining plan details, and build excitement among the user community for this new technology.

Rollout

At this point, most of the details have been filled in and there will be a solid plan for implementing the secure messaging application. Initial trials should have identified most technical and procedural issues and given project managers the opportunity to develop internal champions to assist with the final phase—rolling out the application across the organization.

The complete 2017 Hospital’s Guide to Secure Mobile Messaging Success includes more details about the people, process and technology, as well as a general checklist of considerations for the pre-deployment, initial trial and rollout.

Download the eBrief now>>

Conclusion

Data security is a very broad topic and an ongoing challenge for healthcare leaders. Secure mobile messaging applications are one tool being implemented at more and more hospitals to secure PHI that health professionals share with each other as they deliver excellent patient care. For success, start with larger goals for improving care quality, enhancing the patient experience, and simplifying the work of health professionals to give end users a clear purpose for the requested changes to their established processes.

Looking for more information about secure text messaging and hospital communications? Check out these resources:

eBrief: From planning through post-implementation, follow these 10 steps to maximize adoption of your secure text messaging solution for improved care coordination and protected patient information. Ten Steps to Maximize Secure Text Messaging Adoption

Webinar:  As secure text messaging solutions become more critical to the business of healthcare, it’s imperative that IT teams develop strong business cases that align their investments with strategic goals. In this webinar, learn how to develop a rock-solid business case for a secure text messaging environment that's right for your organization. Building a Business Case for Secure Text Messaging

Video: As hospitals today confront myriad communication challenges, they often find themselves cobbling together clinical communication systems from different vendors. Unfortunately, these pieces often have separate data sources that usually can’t talk to one another. Spok offers one unified technology platform that can solve multiple challenges across different areas and departments of the hospital. The Spok Care Connect® Story