Secure Healthcare Communication Best Practices
Healthcare facilities must ensure that their communications software is completely secure. But where do you find this type of software? Also, what constitutes secure?
When searching for "secure healthcare communication," that keyword term alone will bring up a large number of companies offering software that can be installed locally or those offering cloud-based solutions. Many companies are moving toward cloud services because of lower maintenance cost. But if you want full control over your software and where it is installed, going with a locally installed, non-service offering will fill that need.
Healthcare security involves more than technologies such as encryption and access controls. Any secure healthcare communications must abide by several regulations, these include:
- Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act
- HIPAA Omnibus Final Rule (Omnibus Rule)
Any communication services company that is following healthcare regulations should at least be HIPAA compliant. With the vast amount of digital data and slow elimination of paper throughout healthcare, HITECH is also a common regulation that healthcare facilities must follow.
Now that we've seen a few of the regulations that make up secure healthcare communications, let's turn to the technology involved.
What to Look For in a Secure Healthcare Communications Service?
Healthcare security is made possible through its large use of technology. Given how slow-moving healthcare can be, security technology is one area that the field remained at the forefront. Healthcare is a heavily regulated industry. Any company found violating HIPAA or has a data breach is subject to stiff fines. In addition to the monetary damage, credibility can be lost. These penalties are similar to that of the banking industry, which is also heavily regulated and faces stiff fines for any compromise of data. For those reasons, healthcare uses the latest technology to guard against hacks.
Passwords are the bane of every user as the number passwords you must create for the growing list of websites requiring a login continues to explode. The security industry has been trying to solve this problem for a long time but progress has been slow. One advancement that is catching on is biometric security. Instead of a password to log into your system, a retina or fingerprint scan is used. In other words, unique biometric characteristics are those that only you possess. Biometric security removes the tedious and clumsy management of passwords. With biometric security, you no longer have to remember passwords.
Biometric security is being embraced by healthcare and many other industries. Most communications software has a mobile app component. Many mobile phones, such as the iPhone, use fingerprint scans or facial recognition to unlock the user's phone. This authorization carries over to the communications software to log the user in. It's a far more efficient workflow than using passwords.
Biometric security also solves another problem related to the use of passwords. Believe it or not, staff will share passwords. Biometric imprints can't be shared, eliminating any possibility of shared logins.
If a staff member leaves the company or loses their phone, the communications software should have the ability to wipe any PMI (Patient Master Index) data from the phone, even if the user cannot log into the device.
Voice calls and voicemails should be encrypted. This voice-related data contains sensitive PMI. Access to voice data should also be strictly controlled. Most healthcare communications software offers both features.
Messaging, whether through mobile phone text or chat room must also be encrypted. Users are widely disbursed geographically. How any data (i.e., text message) reaches them isn't really a concern. But while a text message is in transit, it must be protected from potentially prying eyes. That's where encryption comes in.
Outbound calls made through a dialer are used for appointment reminders, billing reminders and more. It's important that these calls not leave any PMI on a patient's voicemail, just in case someone else listens to the voicemail. While the communications software may have nothing to do with this type of problem, it information that should be contained in the facility's communications policy.
To recap some of the key features found in a secure healthcare communications service:
- Biometric security
- Remote wipe of a PMI from a staff member's mobile device
- Encryption of voice calls and voicemails
- Controlled access to voice data
- Encryption of messages (text and chatroom)
- Ability to fully configure automated outbound call messages
When it comes to security, 8x8 provides reliable and compliant cloud solutions at a demanding level rarely seen by other cloud providers. Don't take your chances with a subpar cloud-based telecom system. Call 1-866-879-8647 or fill out our online form to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 Product Specialist.