A doctor using a phone

App Insight Part 2: Top 5 HIPAA Compliant Mobile Apps for Physician Communications

8 Jan 2015 by Samantha Hanes

If your physicians are still texting their colleagues about that complex patient, they’re violating HIPAA. Luckily new privacy-compliant mobile apps provide the same ease-of-use as regular messaging while keeping patient information confidential. And, some offer additional, robust features beyond mere messaging. Here are five options for you to evaluate for your organization.

Text messaging could inadvertently disclose protected info

Text messaging offers a convenient way for physicians to respond to an inquiry or request from another doctor, a nurse or some other member of a patient’s care team. However, those messages could inadvertently disclose electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) in violation of HIPAA. And, that sort of disclosure could mean your organization gets hit with whopping fines — up to $50,000 per violation, according to the American Medical Association.

Vendors have created enterprise mobile apps that safeguard patient info

Because of the inadequacy of standard text messaging to meet HIPAA standards, a number of vendors have created enterprise mobile applications that safeguard patient ePHI while also offering care team members the convenience of texting each other. Here’s a rundown of some of the major players in the enterprise-level secure healthcare messaging space.

  1. TigerText

Launched in 2010, TigerText has clawed its way toward the top of the HIPAA compliant app jungle. In early 2014, TigerText began offering a $1 million security guarantee against fines for privacy violations.

Key features:

  • Message self-destruct option
  • Easily recall messages if sent to the wrong person
  • Ability to set a maximum message lifespan before auto-destruct
  1. Spok

Formerly Amcom Mobile Connect, Spok (pronounced ‘spoke’) emerged as a distinct brand when Amcom was acquired by USA Mobility. Spok not only offers secure clinician messaging, but other options to make collaboration more efficient.

Key features:

  • Ability to set up a contact center to route texts quickly to the correct provider (such as an on-call physician)
  • Allows clinicians to specify which device to contact them on
  • Clinical alerting sends text messages to the physician and simultaneously updates the Electronic Medical Record (EMR)
  1. qliqCONNECT

An early entrant in the secure healthcare messaging arena, qliqCONNECT acts as a conduit for messaging, rather than as a repository. Because the vendor doesn’t store your data — indeed, cannot even decrypt it — your patients’ ePHI theoretically is more secure.

Key features:

  • Nothing stored in the Cloud
  • Ability to integrate with EMR systems
  • Available for desktops as well as mobile devices
  1. Zipit Confirm

In 2004, Zipit introduced a hardware messaging device that revolutionized how people communicated online. It has since moved into Cloud solutions that address the need for secure messaging by healthcare teams.

Key features:

  • User defines priority level of messages and preferred notification style
  • Secure group messaging
  • Cloud-based. No server infrastructure required.
  1. Imprivata Cortext

Imprivata has been providing healthcare security solutions for more than a decade. During the past few years they’ve moved into secure mobile messaging as well.

Key features:

  • Supports communications across multiple locations, such as hospitals, clinics, etc.
  • Clinicians may use Cortext on multiple devices, with real-time syncing
  • Detailed read receipts with time stamps

Quickly and conveniently convey patient information from mobile

One thing’s for sure: there’s no going back from clinician texting. But, that fact need not create a climate of fear in your organization. Combined with a comprehensive compliance strategy and risk analysis, a secure healthcare messaging solution can offer an acceptable way for your physicians, nurses and other providers to quickly and conveniently convey patient information from their mobile devices.