Hospitals & Medical Centers

Fostering HIPAA Compliance and Saving Time with Secure Texts

November 15, 2013
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+

Do your healthcare employees text? Careful – this could be a serious HIPAA compliance problem. According to SearchHealthIT, nurses and physicians are likely already using the unsecure text-messaging apps that come with their personal smartphones to communicate at a quicker pace.

"If you don't provide a communications system, they will find one, and they're going to use it, regardless," said Sally Reeves, healthcare project director at Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.H., in the article. "Things happen too quickly now in hospitals, and information needs to be distributed at such a fast pace in order to coordinate the next thing that's needed. We're under such constraints to get patients out in certain periods of time. They only have so many hours or days here based on their diagnosis, so you have to be speedy in getting results back, setting up the next test, all of those types of things."

Potential compliance violations start with a lack of proper encryption, audit logging and smartphone security issues, such as messages kept in-memory that could be read by whoever’s using the phone. The value of texting is irrefutable, cutting down on call volume, saving time and making patient care more efficient (no missed voicemails). So hospitals are turning to secure texting systems, SecureHealthIT reports.

The system that Frisbie Memorial Hospital is using connects iPhones and hospitals computers and phones via Voice over IP and logs practitioners out of the system once they leave the building.

Installing the program did require some additional infrastructure, including beefing up Wi-Fi capabilities and building geofences (which erase clinical data when a phone leaves the premises). The program doesn’t work with Bring Your Own Device policies, as the hospital’s IT department disables the devices’ cameras and prevents browsing. However, practitioners now send about 60,000 texts a month to each other, and the number of calls, formerly 1,500 per week, has been reduced to fewer than 200 per month. 

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Security Magazine. 

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

ASIS 2013 Product Preview

ASIS International 59th Annual Seminar and Exhibits, September 24-27 in Chicago, Illinois, will include an exhibit hall packed with innovative security solutions. Here are some of the products that will be shown at ASIS this year.


Virtualization and Data Center Security: What You Need to Know for 2014

Data centers are increasingly becoming the center of the enterprise, and data center and cyber security is following the same path for security departments. According to Justin Flynn, a consultant at the Burwood Group, the virtualization of data centers allows enterprises to scale more easily and faster, with a smaller footprint.

However, hosting enterprise data in the cloud can make intrusion detection more difficult – how can enterprise security leaders team up with other departments to keep aware of cyber risks and traffic, and physical and data compliance during the virtual transition? How can CISOs and CSOs discuss cyber threats with the C-Suite to get the resources they need? And how can the proper infrastructure test and verify possible malicious attacks? 

More Podcasts

Security Magazine

Security December 2014 issue cover

2014 December

This issue of Security Magazine covers our 12th annual Top Guarding Firms list. Check out the best of the best as of December 2014. The 21st century has brought with it new types of security threats. Read how to combat and protect against these threats.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Security Emergency Preparedness Training

Which security personnel emergency preparedness training is the top priority to you and your enterprise?
View Results Poll Archive


CompTIA Security+ Certification Study Guide
CompTIA's Security+ certification is a globally-recognized, vendor neutral exam that has helped over 60,000 IT professionals reach further and higher in their careers. The current Security+ exam (SY0-201) focuses more on being able to deal with security issues rather than just identifying them.
More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Facebook 40px 2-12-13 Twitter logo 40px 2-12-13  YouTube  LinkedIn logo 40px 2-12-13Google+

Vertical Sector Focus: Critical Infrastructures

criticalhomepagethumbFrom terrorism to vandalism, it’s preparedness, response, training and partnerships. Learn about some of the critical security issues facing this sector.

Visit the Critical Infrastructure page to read more.