10 key questions every healthcare organizations should ask their vendors when looking for a secure text messaging solution.
The learning curve for consumer text-messaging platforms often goes like this: Turn on the phone and start texting.
The technology is ubiquitous and user-friendly, and if you’re only exchanging messages with family and friends, there’s not much to think about. Texting for business, however, is not nearly as simple, especially if you’re in healthcare.
Texting is one of the most convenient ways for physicians and other healthcare professionals to communicate. Unfortunately, standard texting platforms lack the security and other features that would make them suitable for professional use among clinicians.
Doctors and their organizations need HIPAA-compliant enterprise texting solutions that fit with their workflow. Ideally, the platforms also need to be easy to use.
Here are the qualities to look for and the questions to ask when you’re looking for a secure, reliable and efficient secure text messaging app.
1. Physician Centric Design
One of the biggest problems with EMR and other healthcare technology created for physicians and medical staff is that many times the workflow design is wrong. The people creating the technology have very little or no clinical experience. Many companies hire physicians as consultants to contribute knowledge to the development process, but unless the physician is deeply involved in the design of the product, it will most likely underperform.
- Must Have– A company that has physicians deeply imbedded in the development and design process, not as consultants but as an integral part of the company.
- Ask: Does the company employ any physicians? Can you have a physician present during the demonstration so that they can discuss the clinical benefits of the system?
2. High Level Security
Data breaches are all too common in the technology industry. Many companies make products where features and style are paramount and security takes a back seat.
- Must Have– A company where every design and feature starts with a security evaluation and a HIPAA expert evaluation. They ensure all features meet all HIPAA security requirements and have regular security audits by an outside firm. A big bonus is if they have legal HIPAA experts on staff who stay well ahead of the current developments.
- Ask: What is the name of the security firm that reviews your company? Can you send me your company’s security whitepaper? Who updates your security policy and how often? Do you have a HIPAA expert on staff?
3. Emergency Messaging Reliability
There are many messaging apps for recreation on the market. Very little thought goes into worrying if someone got an invitation to a party or received the latest celebrity gossip. But if your business is sending medical messages from call centers, ERs and physicians, the messages cannot be dropped.
- Must Have: Alarm systems in place to detect messaging failure. Multiple redundant systems in place so that power outages and technology failure can be overridden.
- Ask: Does your company have built-in alarm systems to monitor message failure? Can they be shown during the demonstration of your product
4. Notification Control
With a smartphone in most people’s pockets, there are many buzzes and rings that go off. Notifications are when apps make a sound to announce a new message. It could be easy to miss a message if a person is distracted.
- Must Have: The ability to control notifications and increase the frequency and number. The company should also have the ability to reach the physician or staff by email, text or voice message if the message is not answered within a specified period of time. The organization should be able to customize this based on the healthcare organization’s needs and preferences.
- Ask: What are the different methods that can be used to notify a physician of an important message? Can the notifications be customized per physician and per healthcare organization?
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