Driving ROI with Secure Texting

Doctor-Patient HIPAA Secure Texting & P4P Payment Models

December 6, 2016 | Uniphy Health

We are a texting society: 97 percent of Americans say they use their phones to text. Most physicians understand the value of secure texting within the context of care coordination, and are overwhelmingly receptive to using HIPAA secure text to communicate with other clinical staff. Not so, when patients are concerned.

Doctors often have reservations about allowing patients to text them, primarily due to concerns regarding patient confidentiality, workflow management and financial reimbursement. One way to alleviate these concerns is by using secure communications platforms with HIPAA secure texting and care coordination features. The mobile apps that serve as the front-end for secure communications platforms adhere to the encryption, password protection, auditing and other requirements of HIPAA and HITECH protocols. Because these apps both transmit and store messages securely, physicians needn’t worry about patient confidentiality or regulatory consequences stemming from patients losing their phones.

Regarding workflow management and physicians’ concerns of being overwhelmed by texts from patients, the key to success is carefully selecting which patients should be granted text-based access. Only those who meet specific requirements (e.g., the patient is high risk, requires prolonged intervention, etc.) should be directed to download HIPAA text enabled patient-facing applications. Secure communication platform’s patient engagement apps must connect seamlessly with the clinical communications app that physicians use to coordinate care. This allows doctors to manage communications with other clinical staff and patients from a single interface.

Secure communications platforms support pay-for-performance payment models by aligning doctor-patient text messaging initiatives with established value-based incentives. Physicians who use HIPAA secure texting to communicate with patients accomplish the following:

  • Ease patient anxiety: Waiting for test results when being diagnosed or treated for a medical condition can be stressful for patients. To minimize the risk of stress-induced health complications and improve patient satisfaction, doctors can instruct patients to text them three to four days after their appointment. In some cases, a nudging text may also serve as a reminder for doctors to follow up with patients, reducing patient waiting time. Using a single app that connects to a secure communications platform, doctors can access test results and update patients via secure messaging or email.
  • Speed the patient feedback loop: Medication adherence is a great challenge for doctors, particularly with chronic disease patients who often stop taking their medications without their doctor’s oversight. HIPAA secure texting is easy and convenient enough for patients to be willing to text their doctor with news of whether a treatment or intervention is successful or not.
  • Prevent ED admissions: Doctors who instruct high risk patients to securely message them about critical health concerns can help those patients avoid a visit to the ED or urgent care setting. Physicians can alert their nursing staff to help those patients who aren’t in need of immediate attention to schedule earlier appointments.
  • Reduce patient no-shows: Non-attendance can cause inefficient use of resources in clinics, disrupting the workflow of physicians and other clinical staff. Automated appointment reminders that encourage patients to confirm their availability can be sent via secure text or messaging via secure communications platforms.

All things considered, doctor-patient secure texting can support healthcare organizations in improving patient satisfaction and health outcomes. As with other tools that remove barriers and make fragmented communications cohesive, HIPAA secure texting also contributes to cost savings for health systems and physician practices, as well as patients. It’s time to give stronger consideration to the merits of secure texting between doctors and patients.