Secure Clinical Communications

Doctor using a Tablet Device

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, requires clinical healthcare providers and workers to keep certain patient health information protected and confidential. However, with the advent and rise of electronic healthcare communications, risks to the security of this information have grown. As a result, it is now easier for third parties to access private clinical healthcare information and use it to their benefit.

In response to these risks, the government recently enacted the “Final Omnibus Rule.” This law makes specific changes to the measures healthcare providers and employees must take to prevent data breaches involving information protected by HIPAA. The processes and standards of clinical communication at each healthcare organization must be reviewed and updated on a regular basis to ensure that PHI is being adequately guarded through all communication practices.

Keeping Clinical Communication Secure with The Final Omnibus Rule

The original regulations governing secure clinical communications in healthcare were established nearly two decades ago. Since that time, many new risks to clinical healthcare data have appeared. This update to the regulations is meant to take these new risks into consideration and provide extra protection for patient data.  

These new regulations apply to all people working within the healthcare industry. The changes will affect hospitals and clinics the most. However, they may also have an effect on health insurance brokers, health insurance companies, fund managers and any employer who offers a healthcare plan covered by HIPAA.

The Final Omnibus Rule includes the following regulations:

  • Healthcare organizations are required to create a secure healthcare communication system that controls access to and use of protected health information.
  • Healthcare organizations must conduct risk assessments on a regular basis to look for any potential threats to the secure system.
  • Healthcare organizations must encrypt all patient data so that anyone granted permission to view the data can access it without risking its security.
  • Healthcare organizations must develop and publish procedures that people with access to sensitive data can use to report loss or theft of a mobile device.
  • Healthcare organization’s secure system must prevent employees and others with access to data from storing any sensitive information on their personal devices.

If a breach occurs and a healthcare organization was not following these regulations at the time of the incident, the Department of Health and Human Resources may impose penalties. In addition, if the breach caused harm to patients, the healthcare organization responsible may face civil legal actions for failing to keep clinical healthcare communications secure.

When a breach occurs, healthcare organizations are typically required by law to notify any patients whose sensitive healthcare information may have been compromised. However, under the current regulations, if the breach involved only data that cannot be read, deciphered or used, healthcare organizations are not required to reveal the breach because compromise of sensitive data is unlikely.

Why Secure Clinical Communication is So Important in Today's Digital Environment

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals and other healthcare institutions came into the crosshairs of cybercriminals. Between 2019 and 2020, attacks on the healthcare industry increased by 55 percent, and since then phishing, ransomware, and other attack methods have continued.

The success that cybercriminals have had by targeting PHI has led to the attacks on healthcare providers turning into a $13 billion industry, with the average cost per exposed data recording cost $499. These stats underscore why clinical communication at every organization needs to prioritize their digital habits and technology infrastructure.

Reasons why the healthcare industry remains a prime target for cyberattacks in 2022 include:

  • PHI is a valuable financial asset to gain control over
  • Medical devices provide a variety of access points & potential ease of access
  • Data is often accessed by remote healthcare teams
  • Healthcare staff is not properly trained on digital hygiene & best practices
  • Budgetary concerns or restrictions by smaller organizations
  • The use of legacy systems

By implementing secure clinical communication solutions, physicians, nurses, administrative staff, and patients can collaborate, share, and message between parties without overexposing PHI. When clinical communication is made a focus, not only from a security standpoint but also from a productivity and customer experience angle, all groups benefit through improved health outcomes.

How These Clinical Communication Changes Affect Hospitals

The Final Omnibus Rule will have the most pervasive effect on hospitals, specifically in the area of mobile device security. Many hospitals and other such healthcare organizations are already using mobile technology to communicate and/or access healthcare information on a regular basis. According to a survey published by Mobihealthnews, more than 90 percent of healthcare IT professionals report that they are either already implementing a mobile device initiative or are planning to begin such an initiative soon. When mobile devices are used to communicate sensitive healthcare information, the risk to data increases considerably. The risk is especially high when mobile devices are used to receive, send or access sensitive data over public cell phone networks or Wi-Fi networks. In 2022, some staff policies carry a bring your own device (BYOD) program where staff use their own devices to communicate with colleagues and patients. This type of program solution is acceptable when HIPAA-compliant software is being used.

However, text messaging, phone calls, email, and other communication methods on their own are often susceptible to attacks and breaches. This calls for improved systems to be put in place to limit the risk of devices opening unnecessary vulnerabilities.

Breaches may also occur when someone’s mobile device is stolen or lost. Under these new regulations, healthcare organizations will have to take more precautions to protect data accessed or transmitted over mobile devices.

Breaches may also occur when someone’s mobile device is stolen or lost. Under these new regulations, healthcare organizations will have to take more precautions to protect data accessed or transmitted over mobile devices.

Providing Secure Clinical Communication for Professionals

One of the methods of communication health care providers use most is texting. Unfortunately, texting is vulnerable to data breaches. For this reason, all hospitals need to implement a secure texting protocol to protect their sensitive communications healthcare data. Secure texting uses an encrypted messaging platform to protect data sent between different healthcare professionals, hospitals and other involved parties. This method is much more secure than a standard text messaging platform. In addition, these platforms can be used on virtually any smartphone or tablet. The person who owns the mobile device can still use it normally to communicate with others, but all healthcare-related communications will be transmitted through this specialized platform.

Healthcare professionals work in a fast-paced environment that requires them to be in constant contact with their team and patients. Therefore, response times need to be as short as possible to provide staff with the answers they need, and patients with the care they deserve. It is unrealistic to have clinical communication solutions that prohibit the use of devices in an attempt to prevent HIPAA violations. Today, providers and patients depend on the ability to communicate via smart devices that have become a standard tool in everyday life. This means settled upon outcomes should include the communication preferences of clinicians, while leveraging secure technology architecture -- such as the HIPAA-compliant platform QliqSOFT provides.

Clinical Communication Solutions for Healthcare Organizations

QliqSOFT technology has created a secure and reliable clinical healthcare communication platform for healthcare professionals to communicate quickly and seamlessly with co-workers, while simultaneously protecting sensitive patient information from outside threats.

Secure Clinical Communication Features and Solutions Provided by QliqSOFT Technology

A secure messaging platform uses encrypted technology to protect data sent between different healthcare professionals, hospitals and other involved parties. Much more secure than standard text messaging applications such as Facebook Messenger, iPhone Messages, or Google Messages, the QliqSOFT platform can be used on virtually any smartphone or tablet. The person who owns the mobile device can still use it normally to communicate with others, but all healthcare-related communications will be transmitted through this specialized platform.

QliqSOFT technology goes beyond the requirements for HIPAA compliance. By offering a security approach that dramatically reduces the risk of a PHI Breach. The exclusive cloud pass-thru architecture ensures your sensitive data is never stored on QliqSOFT servers. We don’t even have the ability to decrypt the messages sent back and forth by your team

  • True end-to-end 2048 bit data encryption
  • Data is encrypted/decrypted on the device
  • Nothing is stored in the cloud
  • Remote lock and data wipe
  • Retain 100% control over your data

Providing a secure line of clinical communication for healthcare employees and worker-to-patient contact is essential in today’s digital age. With QliqSOFT secure messaging, healthcare organizations comply with HIPAA regulations and The Final Omnibus Rule, and in turn actually make clinical communication easier for involved parties.

Tools like built-in contact and group lists enable quick identification of the correct individuals to message. Texts, images, and files can all be sent through the platform, with message delivery confirmation. With customization options of preset messages, notification sounds and vibrations, and the ability to use a mobile or desktop version, user experience does not lag behind security. A sacrifice between communications and security doesn't have to be made. Instead, a new era of patient care, team collaboration, and streamlined solutions can take hold. The investment in innovative communications will only continue to drive better satisfaction on both sides of the patient-provider relationship.

Protect your healthcare organization, employees, and patients with a secure form of clinical communication. As penalties and fines from the Department of Health and Human Services can result from a breach in confidential medical information, it is ever important to safeguard against any potential risks. Request a free demo or inquire more information about QliqSOFT’s secure healthcare communications today!

Request a Demo

Learn more our about HIPAA compliant text messaging solutions and patient communication platform.

Thank you, we've received your inquiry.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
A doctor using QliqSOFT secure texting on his phone