mHealth ROI

A Case For Researchers To Launch Clinical Trials On Secure Messaging

December 9, 2015 | Adam Turinas

Hospitals and physicians commonly lack the tools and systems needed to transition to value-based care. To achieve these aims, everyone engaged in the care delivery process needs tools that encourage care coordination and patient engagement, and allow users to remotely access and manage patients’ PHI. Yet, a recent report found that 66% of digital health apps are sending information without encryption. The majority of clinical research on text messaging, too, has relied on unencrypted platforms.

Physicians and hospitals participating in such studies are limited in how they can interact with patients. To abide by HIPAA’s privacy rules, they can only deliver appointment reminders, motivational tips, or generalized health advice via text messaging. A recent literature review of clinical research on text messaging found close to 50% of them failed to report statistically significant clinical outcomes.

That said, an elite class of secure texting enabled, mHealth apps that abide by HIPAA privacy, data storage, management and encryption rules have entered into the marketplace. These apps can more robustly support care coordination and patient engagement. Many of these tools allow patients to access their personal health information and care services, manage appointments, remotely check their treatment plans and more. Clinicians and physicians use such apps to better collaborate on patient cases in real-time, send targeted health/disease specific information to patients, direct patients to care services and more. The ROI associated with these HIPAA secured/encrypted apps are significant. A NJ-based three hospital system, for instance, increased their HCAHPS scores by 26% after adopting a care coordination oriented, secure texting application. Another 350-bed hospital reduced length of stay for 25% of medical floor patients by 1 day and reduced the time their patients spent in the CCU by 25%.

Healthcare IT professionals and clinical researchers looking to pilot text messaging programs should consider testing a HIPAA secure texting app. Patients, physicians, clinicians and even caregivers would be able to freely communicate through text messaging. The potential savings for healthcare organizations and improvements in patient health outcomes will likely be higher than if unsecure text messaging channels were utilized.

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