HIPAA Compliant Instant Messaging is Good For Your Organization

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HIPAA Compliant Instant Messaging is a must for healthcare organizations. Hospitals, community health centers, health care providers (doctors’ offices, retail healthcare), health plans and the like, are processing information at an astronomical rate. To help grasp the enormity, consider that the amount of patient data collected in one year in England of hospitals alone topped 125 million episodes of care. When dealing with protected health information (PHI), the US has its own rules and regulations as enforced by the Office of Civil Rights, under the HIPAA Rules and the HITECH Act. Less than strict adherence to these rules results in steep fines that can run into the millions of dollars.

As more organizations engage in mobility and the transference of communication and data, digitally, covered entities and their business associates who may come into contact with PHI, must be diligent in protecting this very sensitive data. Keeping your organization HIPAA compliant while handling PHI has great benefits and not just cost saving ones. Any organization must be aware that instant messaging is happening despite policies that may be in place. The more sensible solution is to remove any vulnerability and protect any communication by instant messaging. When a platform such as Cisco Jabber is used to communicate protected health information (PHI) over instant messages, it is critical that these messages be archived in a HIPAA compliant manner. The Verba Recording system meets the HIPAA security rules in protecting such PHI.

HIPAA Compliant Instant Messaging Reduces Errors

A majority of medical errors, like delays, complications, even overdoses, are found to take place during hand-offs—that time when patients are transferred between caretakers as they enter and leave their shifts. This juncture is often rife with miscommunications causing serious errors and can result in malpractice lawsuits. HIPAA compliant messaging leaves a clear audit trail that can be used to clear up any disputes and help reduce errors during these transitions when used correctly. Developing a hand-off strategy that uses HIPAA compliant IM to support the transition can be an effective tool for organizations.

HIPAA Compliant Messaging Increases Security

Security breaches cost hospitals over $1 billion annually. When a provider uses collaboration tools that are unprotected, such as accessing records through a personal smartphone over a wireless data connection, that provider’s organization is liable if that information falls into the wrong party’s hands. Providers like and often prefer the convenience of messaging and will do it with or without a protective cover. When the organization drags its feet to deploy an HIPAA compliant messaging solution, they are setting themselves up to for failure.

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Darlene Jackson is a published writer with many years of experience in digital publishing, advertising, and public relations. Her diverse assignments include stints with Chicago Public Media, The Chicago Tribune, and various print and online media and communication outlets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree at Northwestern University.

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