Secure Messaging Gains Approval for Healthcare Communication
June 4, 2016
Among other things, Title II of HIPAA (the Health Information Privacy Accountability Act) regulations mandate how personal health information may be properly transmitted. Keeping personal health information secure from unaffiliated third parties is a key concern for healthcare call centers and their clients who clamor for communication convenience.
Though text messaging is a popular communication option among healthcare practitioners, it fails to provide the required data security and falls far short of being able to ensure the mandatory privacy of health information. In 2011, the Joint Commission, which accredits healthcare organizations, gave its official thumbs down to text messaging as a means of communicating protected personal healthcare information.
Call center vendors worked to find a solution and began offering secure messaging portals for their call center clients who serve healthcare practitioners (as well as other security-focused industries, such as finance). The result was secure messaging apps, which addressed the HIPAA and Joint Commission concerns. While call centers and their clients have relied on these secure messaging apps in the intervening years, the Joint Commission remained silent on their use.
In a welcomed clarification, this May the Joint Commission gave its approval to secure text messaging as a viable means of communicating protected health information. They stated that practitioners “may text orders as long as a secure text messaging platform is used and the required components of an order are included.”In a welcomed clarification, this May the Joint Commission gave its approval to secure text messaging as a viable means of communicating protected health information. They stated that practitioners “may text orders as long as a secure text messaging platform is used and the required components of an order are included.”
In order to be deemed as secure, the platform must meet six requirements:
- Have a “secure sign-on process,”
- Use “encrypted messaging,”
- Present “delivery and read receipts,”
- Include both a “date and time stamp,”
- Offer “customized message retention time frames,” and
- Provide a “specified contact list for individuals authorized to receive and record orders.”
(From the Joint Commission’s FAQ section addressing secure text messaging.
This information was also included in the Joint Commission’s Perspectives®publication, May 2016, Volume 36, Issue 5,
While call centers have long relied on secure messaging as a viable means to meet HIPAA requirements in this matter, having the Joint Commission give their written approval provides a welcome confirmation.
Despite this, some indifferent call centers continue to persist in ignoring the critical importance, both ethically and legally, of providing secure text messaging to their healthcare clients. If your call center is texting private healthcare information without using a secure messaging app, then it’s time to find a new call center. The risk of their lapse falls not only on them, but also on you.
Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call centerindustry and who provides a healthcare call center matchmaking service.Contact Janet at email@example.com or call 800-901-7706.
Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.
Tweet: Joint Commission OKs secure messaging for healthcare info. Does your #callcenter comply?
Use an Answering Service to Block Out Time
People at all levels of business, in all sizes of businesses, struggle to find time to focus on key projects. Nowhere is this more critical than for e...
Selling a Distressed Answering Service
Prior posts have addressed the right time to sell your answering service, the wrong time to sell, and about leaving a legacy when it’s time to move ...
Why Insisting on a Stateside Call Center is an Ill-conceived Goal
When people reach a call center, they make assumptions about the agent and the agent’s location based on what they hear. While these assumptions may...
Use an Answering Service to Better Serve Callers
When someone calls your office, what happens? Don’t answer this question with what you hope happens or what you ideally want to occur but with the t...
7 Steps to Deal with an Underperforming Answering Service Sales Rep
If an answering service has sales reps they either produce consistent sales month after month or they underperform. Too often sales reps underperform....
A Professional Billing Service Provides Added Value to Answering Services
With the right software, anyone can generate telephone answering service invoices—and get them mostly correct. Yet it takes a company with unique in...
Use an Answering Service to Back-up Your Staff
In today’s fast paced business environment we all have more to do and less time to do it. Too often something needs to give. We skip some aspects of...
Use an Answering Service to Handle Your Office Hours Calls
Most everyone knows that answering services are great at answering the phone in the evenings and weekends, but they can also answer your phone during ...