7 Steps to Ensuring Clinician Satisfaction With a Secure Texting Solution

Texting has become both a ubiquitous and preferred method of communication — the average cell phone owner sends or receives 10 text messages per day, according to a recent Pew Research survey.

The prevalence, ease and convenience of texting makes it an ideal method of communication within a hospital, though standard commercial texting platforms do not have the necessary security features that would permit their use by HIPAA-covered entities.

Hospitals that want to allow their physicians to text each other need a secure texting solution designed to allow HIPAA-compliant text messages to be sent and received within a designated environment. Many hospitals have employed such a secure texting solution — one vendor, Amcom Software, has deployed its solution at more than 800 organizations.

As few as three or four years ago, when not as many hospitals had "bring your own device" policies in place, physicians would often be wary of a hospital's proposed secure texting solution, says Brian Edds, vice president of product strategy at Amcom. Physicians were worried they would be saddled with an expensive data plan bill, or the app would compromise the security of their phone. "But as they've embraced smartphones and BYOD policies, they've become more comfortable with work apps running on their personal devices," says Mr. Edds.

Now, adoption among physicians is usually enthusiastic, says Mr. Edds. Physicians are quick to realize the time-saving benefits of texting and are comfortable with using the devices. "Adoption is definitely getting easier — people generally love using this," he says.

To help ensure quick and hassle-free physician adoption, Mr. Edds offers seven best practices to hospitals implementing secure texting solutions.

1. Have a documented mobility strategy. IT and clinical users should work together on the creation of written guidelines and policies regarding the secure texting solution, as well as the BYOD policy or related endeavors. "By making sure it's written down, you can avoid human resources or IT security issues down the road," says Mr. Edds.

2. Allow for a variety of devices. While many physicians have smartphones, hospitals should select solutions that allow a variety of devices. "Pagers and other such devices will remain part of the mix," says Mr. Edds, and a chosen solution should allow physicians to use either.

3. Get clinical buy-in. Clinical leadership should work with the IT department on the implementation of a secure texting solution, says Mr. Edds. Doing so will promote the use of the texting solution among physicians.

4. Start small. Mr. Edds recommends first rolling the solution out to a pilot group of about 25 users and learning from the questions these users ask and the issues they encounter. "You'll learn a lot about the organization and how educated people are [about text messaging]," he says. A hospital can also use the materials developed during this pilot period when the solution is rolled out organizationwide.

5. Ensure easy Wi-Fi coverage. "Make sure the employees are able to hook up to the Wi-Fi with their phone," says Mr. Edds. "It should be an easy experience and something they only have to do once." Hospitals should also configure their Wi-Fi networks to allow physicians to move from one facility or part of the organization to another without having to leave and rejoin the network.

6. Have ample help-desk support. Physicians should be able to turn to the same IT helpdesk for texting support as they would for any other IT issue, says Mr. Edds. Hospitals should expect users to have questions, and make sure staff members are available to answer them. "You're basically supporting a new mini-desktop," he says. "Make sure you've staffed for that so the initial project champions don't become overwhelmed."

7. Integrate the solution. "Implement it in such a way that it connects to the way [physicians] communicate today," says Mr. Edds. "No one should have to change how they get a hold of you, you should just have more options on how you receive their message…if the systems are separate, adoption will be a much bigger leap."


Learn more about implementing a successful secure texting solution during a new webinar, The Secret Formula for Using Secure Texting Hospitalwide, sponsored by Amcom Software. For more information or to register, click here.

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