Choosing a HIPAA compliant messaging app and why it matters

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The total global mobile health (mHealth) market is predicted to reach nearly 100 billion U.S. dollars in 2021. That would be a fivefold increase from around 21 billion dollars in 2016.

Therefore, it is clear that healthcare messaging needs to be HIPAA compliant to ensure that sensitive data like Protected Health Information (PHI) is protected while in transit. In this article, we will explore the best HIPAA-compliant text messaging apps, what some of their key features are, their pricing available, as well as look at how to go about choosing a HIPAA-compliant secure texting app for healthcare.

 

The 5 best HIPAA compliant messaging apps – A feature-wise comparison

Healthcare apps with messaging features are many, but, here is a list of the best HIPAA-compliant texting apps available today that provide the best support for both patients and doctors alike.

 

1)      OhMD: Transparent and Affordable Pricing

 

OhMD claims to be the simplest way for healthcare providers and patients to communicate and they are justified in making this claim. With a user base of over 30000 healthcare professionals, they have the numbers to back them up.

OhMD is a HIPAA-compliant platform that provides patient communication, video consults, appointment reminders, and a host of other features. All of this without even needing the patient to download an app!

Their unique two-way communication system allows the patient to access a link right from their text messages that open up a video conference on their browser. Considering all information is secure in a HIPAA-compliant messaging system, this makes it a very good option for both healthcare providers and patients alike.

                                                  

Some of their features are:

·       Over 50 EHR integrations

·       Easy User Management

·       Appointment Scheduling

·       No App needed for patients

OhMD’s plans come at very affordable rates as well. The Basic plan is free to use, and they have two more: Plus (at $7 per user, per month) and Reach (which needs users to reach out to their sales team).

2)      TigerConnect: A Comprehensive Solution

Named a Category Leader in 2021 in telemedicine apps, TigerConnect is a comprehensive HIPAA-compliant chat software that can be used across the desktop and as a phone app.

 

It uses 256-bit AES encryption to send messages. No one may copy, paste, or forward these communications for extra protection. Physical precautions such as biometric measures, backup generators, and cooling systems are included in their data center security features. They’re also SAS 70 Type II certified, and they’re encrypted at rest using AES 256-bit encryption.

According to their website, some of their unique features are:

·       They are HITRUST certified

·       It allows for one-to-one or group messaging features like chat rooms that are HIPAA compliant.

·       Priority messaging feature that puts high-priority messages at the top of the recipients’ inboxes.

·       Message recall function

·       Secure attachments

TigerConnect’s pricing is available on request.

                              

3)      Providertech: Innovative and Making News

Providerteach has been making waves in the secure medical messaging app space. In 2019, they were featured by HOP (Health Outreach Partners) as an innovative outreach practice leveraging technology to create trusting relationships, ensure access to health care, and improve self-management of care for vulnerable populations.

Providertech is also HITRUST certified and their secure, healthcare communication app is not only a HIPAA-compliant messenger but also adheres to the HITRUST CSF Assurance Program requirements for security.

In addition, some features they offer, among others, are:

·       Speedy delivery of test results to patients electronically

·       Vaccine Management

·       Population outreach

·       Real-time but HIPAA secure messaging

Providertech’s pricing is available on request.

 

4)      Halo Health: Early player but still relevant

Founded in 2014, Halo Health was one of the first cloud-based HIPAA-compliant chat systems that were implemented. They are hosted by Amazon web services and have continued to bring about improvements by providing avenues to improve clinical collaboration, and communication between patients and healthcare providers and thereby improving patient outcomes.

Their customers range from independent clinics to large healthcare providers looking to automate and streamline their processes without compromising on patient communication and outcomes. Their chat solutions are also HIPAA compliant and they have more than 20000 users on their platform.

                                

Some of their features are:

·       It allows for audio and video conferencing

·       Has discussion forums available

·       Tracks No-Shows for easier scheduling

·       Sends out automated appointment reminders

·       Their entire platform is HIPAA compliant

·       Has the ability to send messages tailored to the recipients for example to doctors vs nurses

Pricing for Halo Health can be obtained by contacting them directly.

5)      Spok: Seamless Interoperability

Spok’s main USP is its interoperability. With its ability to integrate with most EHR and clinical systems, it offers seamless integration. In addition, with its HIPAA-compliant chat options, there is a very good reason it makes it to the list of the best apps for HIPAA-compliant text messaging apps.

Some of the features that Spok provides are:

·       A full audit trail of messages

·       Sent and read receipts of messages

·       On-Call Scheduling

·       Sharing clinical diagnostic results quickly and efficiently

 

One of the most unique features that Spok offers is its DPE (Device Preference Engine). This feature enables Spok to match the priority of messages to the preferred device of the user, thereby ensuring that users have access to the highest priority messages earliest. For example, if someone has selected their smartphone as the device they have the most immediate access to, the highest priority messages are sent to their smartphone whereas something that is not so urgent will be sent to their other device to be accessed later. This way, it prevents information overload as well as overcrowding of the preferred device.

Spok’s pricing is also available on getting in touch with them.

How to select a HIPAA-compliant messaging app

While these options are the best available, you might decide to go with another option or need some pointers to select the one that you might want to use for your business. We have put together a few pointers to consider.

          Consider HIPAA compliance messaging app and other security certifications

          Ensure implementation of adequate quality controls

          Assess the list of all features that suit your business

Takeaways:

Covid-19 has made access to healthcare using virtual means even more critical than it was before. In addition, with strained resources, it has become essential to use resources optimally so that healthcare providers can focus on what they do best: taking care of people’s health. Virtual texting apps go a long way in helping this objective. However, considering PHI and other compliance factors around healthcare, it is imperative that not just any solution be used. Instead, using a HIPAA-compliant messaging system will make such interactions not only easier but also secure, adhering to protocols.

 

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