By Harsh Mamgain, VP of Product, NetSfere
The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of the healthcare industry, revealing a need for efficient, secure, and instantaneous communications among providers, organizations, and their patients.
With the proliferation of more mobile and connected medical devices than ever before in healthcare organizations, the expanding attack surface for cybercriminals is not only putting the patient journey at risk but also making the health organizations extremely vulnerable to cyber-attacks, data & privacy compromises, and regulatory non-compliance. As we navigate our new world and begin to make necessary advancements, there are many things to consider when embarking on the digital transformation journey.
Connected, efficient healthcare communications
The time and resources of healthcare providers, hospitals and medical staff are strained. Employees need to be equipped with quick, easy-to-use tools that not only make their own jobs easier but also improve the patient engagement experience. The past two years have proven a deep need for compliant communication tools that optimize workflows, make information (which is ever-changing) accessible to the right people, and streamline staff communication. Additionally, with hybrid and remote working models, teams are no longer consistently working under the same roof which can create gaps, and potential delays, in communication. Deploying company-wide mobile messaging and omnichannel solutions will allow healthcare staff to conveniently and securely share files, links and host meetings to streamline processes internally which ultimately will reflect through improved patient outcomes.
While real-time, accessible and streamlined communications are crucial for providers and healthcare staff to communicate internally, these tools also enhance the patient-user experience and allow organizations to stay competitive. In order to retain patients and draw new ones in, providers must meet patients where they are and engage with one or two-way mobile messaging, social media messaging, email and more. Patients are no longer accepting hour-long waits on the phone and outdated means of receiving information from their doctors. They have begun expecting the same level of convenience reflected in consumer experiences. Enhancing means of communication with patients will strengthen their relationships with providers, thus leading to increased patient loyalty and satisfaction.
Protected, secure data
As with everything involving patient, provider and healthcare communications, compliance is key. Data security and privacy must remain the top priority within the digital transformation process to protect patients and the organization. Additionally, regulations like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) require healthcare organizations to comply with strict standards for Protected Health Information (PHI and ePHI) including medical histories, test results and other sensitive patient information. When deploying messaging channels, companies must ensure they are using tools that are fully compliant with HIPAA and other regulations.
As current events increase imposed cybersecurity risks across the globe, it’s vital for healthcare organizations to shore up their safeguards and lock down on the safety of company and patient data and IP. Healthcare organizations are large targets for hackers due to the amount of sensitive data they hold like medical and billing information and, unfortunately, outdated systems. In fact, stolen health records may sell up to 10 times more than credit card information on the dark web (AHA Center for Health). Patient and organization communications should be protected with top-line safeguards like end-to-end encryption across channels to ensure that data and communications are secured at every touchpoint.
Overall, communication is a key part of the healthcare sector and should be a priority in the digital transformation process for organizations. Modernizing messaging channels and ensuring their security will allow staff to communicate efficiently and safely while keeping patient data protected. These necessary improvements will allow organizations to maintain patient trust through these digitization processes and will keep them at the core of everything they do.
(Full disclosure: My company offers secure messaging and collaboration solutions like those mentioned throughout the article.)