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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 Cover Sick Days
Unlike a vacation, which employees schedule in advance, no one plans a sick day—or at least most people don’t. In most cases a sick day is not a p...
What Is a Call Center?
If your business operates outside the call center industry, you may have trouble answering this question of “What is a call center?” But it’s an...
Implement an Agent Development Program
Call center agents, your public-facing staff, are key to your call center’s effectiveness and fuel the success of the overall organization. Successf...
Agent Success Starts With Great Training
In the call center arena, your frontline people are key to success. This starts on day one of their employment in their initial training. Here are som...
How Not to Sell Your Telephone Answering Service
There are some commonsense steps to take when selling your telephone answering service, just as there are when selling anything. Common key elements i...
Why You Should Consolidate Siloed Call Centers
It’s likely your hospital system has at least one call center, a centralized place that handles calls. This may be for a department, a building, the...
Use an Answering Service to Schedule Appointments
Some businesses and professionals live or die by the number of appointments they have each day. For them, an appointment is a billable moment. A full ...
Use an Answering Service to Cover Staff Meetings
It’s a dilemma. You want all of your staff to attend your staff meetings, but that leaves no one left to answer the phone when it rings. After all, ...