What are the Essential Requirements of a Healthcare Secure Texting App?
The short answer: security, HIPAA compliance, and usability. At qliqSOFT we are always engaging in an open dialogue with industry experts and customers to discover new ways in which qliqCONNECT can help providers send secure communications in an increasingly unsecured world. To better get an idea of some current trends, we recently polled members in a HIMSS group LinkedIn discussion to discuss the essential “wish list” of health IT experts.
At a very high level, users want an application to be truly secure. Many respondents made mention of recent events such as the Heartbleed Vulnerability that have exposed flaws in previously assumed secure networks and gateways. “Remote monitoring devices,” commented Mary E. Moore, MBA, “should be able to trigger a secure text being sent to the appropriate person.”
Cloud Pass-Thru HIPAA Compliance
One way to ensure security is to cut out unnecessary cloud-based messaging hosts, and utilizing “cloud pass-thru” technology is one powerful way to minimizing the number of potential security risks.
Other respondents cited the need to meet administrative HIPAA requirements. Cristin O’Brien noted that “a BAA is required for a secure texting app to be considered HIPAA compliant.” Besides, access logs and audit tracking should be health IT mainstays to help covered entity users meet their obligations under the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules.
If a regulated entity cannot show where its PHI is being disclosed and at what times, it is exposing itself to significant regulatory and data security risk in the event of an audit. The same applies to a covered entity who cannot produce a BAA between itself and a vendor that processes patient PHI on its behalf. Helping an entity meet these requirements with the appropriate IT functionality should always be a top priority.
The Benefits of a Healthcare Secure Texting App
Meeting security and regulatory requirements are essential considerations, but above all else, a product should be inherently usable, commenters noted. “Other than  being truly secure,” noted Anne Zieger, “I’d argue that an extremely usable and attractive interface is key.” A secure texting app should have intuitive features that users will both enjoy using and easily adopt. The steeper the learning curve, the greater the potential that users will refuse to adopt the technology, reverting instead back to unsecured mobile communications methods such as SMS texting.
Choosing your Next Healthcare Texting App
While the LinkedIn discussion mainly focused on healthcare texting apps, the same can be said for any health IT consumer product. Products that fail to take into account security, HIPAA requirements, and usability will fail to penetrate their target market. Health IT vendors and their intended users who are evaluating their products should both take these considerations seriously.