Being able to send and receive Protected Health Information (PHI) “on the fly” between teams of healthcare providers, fosters collaboration and can be used to accelerate admissions, distribute test results, improve communication and streamline patient discharges – saving time, increasing productivity and enhancing patient satisfaction.

Although HIPAA does not specifically prohibit communicating PHI by text, a system of administrative, physical and technical safeguards has to be in place to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of PHI when it is “in transit” – being communicated between medical professionals or covered entities.

Traditional SMS messages – the type of message typically sent from one mobile device to another – are not HIPAA compliant. This is because they lack encryption, there are no safeguards to prevent a text message being sent to a wrong number, text messages are stored indefinitely on service providers´ servers, and text messages sent in plain text can be intercepted.

Furthermore, mobile devices containing PHI are frequently lost or stolen – potentially exposing PHI to unauthorized access if data on the devices is read. 

A solution to these issues is to implement a secure messaging system. 

Microsoft Teams is one such cloud based secure messaging system, that when used in combination with a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with Microsoft and appropriate security safeguards, can facilitate secure messaging, meetings, notes, and attachments. 

Microsoft Teams is built on four core promises:

Messaging for today’s teams. Microsoft Teams provides persistent, threaded chat to keep everyone engaged and informed. Team conversations are visible to the entire care team by default and there is also the capability for private chat between specific team members.

A hub for teamwork. Microsoft Teams brings together the full breadth and depth of Office 365. Providers can start voice and video meetings, as well as work with Microsoft Office documents, directly within the Microsoft Teams experience.

Customizable for each team. Because every care team is unique, Microsoft Teams offers the ability for you to customize the experience to meet your specific needs. You and your team members can create channels to organize conversations by topic. You can customize channels with a feature called Tabs, which provide quick access to frequently used documents and applications. Tabs can be created for Office 365 services like OneNote, SharePoint and Planner, or third-party solutions.

Security that teams trust. As part of Office 365, Microsoft Teams offers the global scale and advanced security and compliance capabilities provided by the Microsoft Cloud. Data is encrypted at all times and covered by a transparent operational model with no standing access to customer data. Multifactor authentication provides enhanced identity protection to help ensure data stays safe within the team. In addition, Microsoft Teams supports key compliance and data protection standards, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act business associate agreement (HIPAA BAA).

For more information on how your organization can leverage Microsoft Teams to improve communication, productivity and care coordination, all while lowering IT costs and maintaining HIPAA compliance, contact us at info@nexa1.com

 
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