Mobile communication is an integral and growing part of every aspect of modern life, including healthcare. Fast and secure communication between care team members can measurably improve clinical efficiency as well as patient outcomes—this is a given. In addition, federal and state requirements for electronic health recordkeeping are pushing many medical professionals to aggressively begin updating and integrating their electronic health records and communications.
However, many physicians and healthcare organizations still rely on multiple technologies and information systems for their communications. The time it takes to monitor multiple communication portals can take away from time spent with patients and allow important messages to slip through.
Several products are currently on the market to address the need for HIPAA-compliant mobile messaging among medical professionals. However, many of these solutions have serious flaws: they are social networks that make their money by selling physicians’ information to recruiters, or they are silo’d solutions that only help those who work inside a hospital system. Physicians need a mobile communication solution that is not only HIPAA-secure, but also shields their personal information and works regardless of practice type or location.
The ideal messaging application for healthcare providers should include the following:
- Efficient and instantaneous physician-to-physician communication
- A secure community to share patient information and collaborate with medical colleagues, in a HIPAA-secure manner
- Ability to send medical images securely between physicians
- Built-in local physician and pharmacy directories
- Ability to scale from small groups, to hospitals, all the way to large multi-enterprise organizations like ACO’s
- Widespread adoption among medical professionals
- Availability across platforms including smartphones, tablets and the web
- Data that resides on secure servers, not users’ devices
- Ability to remotely disable the app on a device that has been lost or stolen
- Long-term message archive compliant with HITECH recommendations
- Ability to integrate with other Health IT solutions
When all the information is at a physician’s fingertips, faster and richer discussions on patient treatment and care can result. Also, with local physician and pharmacy directories built into a secure messaging app, the time physicians spend finding colleagues or tracking down a local pharmacy is cut from hours to minutes.
DocbookMD: A Secure Gateway for Physicians
The only HIPAA-secure instant messaging application that meets all these requirements is DocbookMD. Designed by physicians, for physicians, it creates a secure community to share patient information and collaborate with medical colleagues as well as 3rd party services like radiology, labs, answering services, even health plans. Drs. Tim Gueramy and Tracey Haas began developing DocbookMD out of their own need for more efficient and instantaneous physician-to-physician and physician-to-care team communication. Since then, DocbookMD has experienced incredible growth, now serving over 25,000 physician users across 41 states.
In addition, DocbookMD offers CareTeam, a feature that allows physicians to invite members of the patient’s direct care team—including nurses, PAs, admin, care coordinators and other staff—to join them on DocbookMD to communicate in a secure, fast and efficient way through their mobile devices.
With DocbookMD, healthcare providers of all kinds can communicate with colleagues rapidly and securely, with the confidence that their privacy and data integrity will be maintained. Here are some exemplary use cases based on actual users’ testimonials:
- A dermatologist can send the ENT surgeon an image of a complicated skin lesion to be removed. The surgeon is able to make a more efficient plan for surgery and reconstruction ahead of time.
- A family doctor in a rural area can collaborate over X-rays with an orthopedic surgeon in the nearest city. The specialist is able to determine if an urgent surgery or just a cast is necessary, saving the patient time, extra office visits and travel.
- A radiologist can communicate test results immediately to the ordering physician, who can in turn notify the patient and bring in for treatment, if needed, much more quickly.
- An emergency physician is able to rapidly receive and send messages, images and test results to consultants and referring doctors during a busy shift. They are also able to coordinate transfer of care with outpatient primary care, or inpatient hospitalists, thereby streamlining transitional patient care and closing the loop on any ER visit.
Physicians report improved workflow with the ability to do the same work in far less time. For example, a traveling cardiologist’s assistant can send the doctor lower extremity Doppler studies and EKGs for a patient who may be hundreds of miles away. The cardiologist is able to make treatment decisions without having to return, and the patient receives much quicker and more responsive care.
Selecting a Mobile Communication Platform
Ultimately, when choosing a secure instant messaging application for medical communications, physicians and healthcare organizations must carefully consider their professional needs as well as the potential to improve patient care. What features are absolute must-haves? What app characteristics would eliminate an app from consideration? Is the solution scalable? Is it cost-effective? Can it be integrated into existing health IT solutions? Answer these questions and others will help physicians to evaluate messaging apps and select the right fit for their organization.
A HIPAA-secure mobile medical communication solution should put physicians firmly in control of whom they connect with and who can send them messages. Any other model opens physicians up to unwanted contacts and wasted time.