The U.S. healthcare industry is one of the most regulated industries globally. The primary law governing the privacy and security of protected health information is The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) Act of 1996. HIPAA compliance requires patient data to be kept secure and confidential, which means that covered entities—hospitals, healthcare businesses and nonprofits, and business associates such as cloud companies—must ensure they use a HIPAA compliant messaging app. Failure to do so can result in hefty fines. For example, a healthcare nonprofit in Illinois is on record as having paid the largest HIPAA fine of $5.5 million for failing to put in place adequate safeguards to protect patient data.
What is HIPAA Compliant Secure Messaging?
HIPAA compliant secure messaging is the term used to describe the use of technology platforms and software that meet the technical and security requirements of HIPAA. HIPAA compliant messaging software typically uses encryption technologies to protect patient data sent and received, ensuring that information remains confidential.
Is Text Messaging HIPAA Compliant?
While text messages are not explicitly mentioned in HIPAA, they can be considered a form of electronic communication that falls under the law’s purview. As such, any app or platform used for text messaging must be HIPAA-compliant. This means that they must meet the same security requirements as other forms of electronic communication, including email and chat programs.
Unfortunately, common text messaging applications such as Whatsapp, Messenger, and Skype are not HIPAA compliant because the necessary technical safeguards are not standard features. For example, the apps are not password protected by default, messages can pop up on locked screens, and they lack audit controls to maintain communication records. In addition, many of these app companies do not have Business Associate Agreements with healthcare organizations, a critical HIPAA requirement.
Below, we review six of the top HIPAA compliant messaging apps and software on the market today to help stay on the right side of the law.
Also read: Five Tips for Managing Compliance on Enterprise Networks
Best HIPAA Compliant Messaging Apps
WELL is a top-tier communication platform designed to help healthcare enterprises reduce patient no-shows and waiting times. The patient communication system provides advanced automation solutions such as appointment reminders, AI-powered chats, accurate data analytics, and automated administrative and clinical processes.
Furthermore, WELL integrates seamlessly with the leading electronic health records (EHRs) systems such as Epic, Cerner, MEDHOST, AthenaHealth, AllScripts, among others. In addition, the platform’s API enables two-way vendor communication, Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), and Health Level Seven International Version 2 (HL7v2) integrations.
WELL is HIPAA compliant and HITRUST CSF Certified.
- Allows direct patient outreach for vendors
- It is built for scaling large enterprises
- WELL has an intuitive return on investment (ROI) calculator to help you streamline your cost-revenue allocations
- Facilitates revenue cycle management
- Multi-channel integration (Text, email, phone, and live chat)
- Enables complete lifecycle patient management programs
- Users can customize messaging workflows from scratch or use pre-built templates
- Secure two-way communication
- Easy to set up with minimal training required
- Excellent customer support
- Flexible automation rules
- Automated appointments and cancellation, allowing for immediate slot availability
- WELL is available as a web-based platform and is yet to release a mobile or desktop application
Users can request a demo. Pricing is also available on request.
HALO Health (Now a Part Of Symplr)
Halo Health is a cloud-based healthcare collaboration and communication software designed for ambulatory, clinical systems, and long-term post-acute enterprises. The platform created by expert clinicians has a unique workflow that delivers patient information in real time to the specific role, person, or team with no communication delays.
Halo Link, a new solution from Halo Health, enables physicians to communicate at different facilities through their various roles. This feature allows clinicians to seamlessly access and share patient information regardless of how many facilities they operate.
- On-call scheduling and real-time status changes
- Provides secure messaging
- Automated team and role-based communication
- EHR/EMR integrations that allow critical patient alerts and monitoring
- Multi-cloud hosted platforms
- Compatible with iOS, Android, and Desktop
- Supports Internal and external VolP calls via the Halo platform
- Allows users to communicate with non-HALO members using a National Provider Identifier ((NPI) number
- Integrates with all types of healthcare systems
- Supports auto-forward, auto-reply, and off-duty critical messaging when you’re unavailable
- Halo’s unified communication platform eliminates multiple communication apps and reduces administrative costs
- Optimized workflows reduce errors and time wastage for critical patient processes
- Enables cross-functional collaboration between teams, departments, and facilities
- Has lag issues when sending messages
- Does not support video communication
- Halo could improve its search function to be more intuitive
Pricing is available on request, and users can apply for a demo.
Tiger Connect Clinical Collaboration Platform
Tiger Connect enables secure healthcare communication and collaboration through text, voice, and video. The platform ensures 99.9% uptime and can process 10 million+ messages per day. In addition, users can automatically schedule role-driven assignments and provide accurate messaging without any mix-ups.
- Real-time alerting and AI-driven routing of notifications
- Automated switching from inactive to active for shift schedules
- It is integrated with nurse call, EHR, and psychological monitors for real-time actionable alerts
- Virtual patient management and engagement
- Built-in templates for creating on-call schedules
- Smart Bed Integration for automated monitoring, fall prevention, and sentinel event mitigation
- Wide-ranging system integrations to speed up workflows
- Real-Time Location enables faster nurse deployment
- Provides support through chat, email, help desk, and phone support. Users also have access to a well-documented knowledge base and forum
- Available on cloud, on-premises, and as a mobile and desktop app
- The platform encrypts the communication and enables secure messaging
- Users can set up public or private groups for communicating with specific members
- You can hold forum discussions or broadcast information to large teams
- Users can dictate the lifespan of messages and when to auto-delete
- Allows secure messaging for non-members
- IT can enforce system policies through archiving and Active Directory
- Users cannot tag specific persons when delegating a task
Enterprises can request a demo.
Utilized by over 12 million users in 150+ countries, Rocket Chat is an open-source messaging platform for data-sensitive enterprises. The platform allows seamless internal communication with colleagues and secure external interactions with suppliers and vendors.
Rocket Chat boasts one of the best third-party app integrations with 20+ categories ranging from analytics to project management.
The platform provides self-managed deployments to ensure the safety of patient data. Rocket Chat also has a ticketing system, role-based permissions, and 24/7 support from any location.
- Allows multi-channel and cross-platform communication through voice, SMS, chat, video, or social media
- The chat API allows routine patient outreach automation
- Chatbot and self-service allow you to route patients to the appropriate physicians automatically
- End-to-end encryption and non-readable for secure communication
- Single sign-on, Active Directory, and Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) capabilities
- Highly available infrastructure that deploys as multiple instances
- Supports unencrypted message auditing
- Rocket Chat has extensive security features that safeguard your patient data and interactions
- It’s an open-source platform that’s easy to integrate with your existing systems
- It’s a fully-packed platform that provides end-to-end communication and administrative and project management tools
- Saves all chat logs for easier referrals and auditing
- It’s free for self-hosted users
- There’s no way to delete private messages
- Their app marketplace is not highly intuitive
Rocket Chat is free for self-hosted teams. They also offer a free 30-day trial. After that, it’s $3 per user per month for a self-managed plan or $2 per user per month for a SaaS plan.
Paubox Email Suite
When you need an email solution that encrypts email communication and does not require additional plugins, Paubox is the ideal platform. According to HIPAA regulations, the software allows companies to block internal users from sharing protected health information. Paubox can also display and block potentially harmful emails to prevent enterprise-wide phishing attacks.
Paubox has multi-region and U.S.-based data centers that ensure minimal downtime and unparalleled performance for data availability.
- HIPAA compliant voicemail transcriptions
- Their ExecProtect feature applies zero-trust filtering to emails to prevent spoofing
- AI-powered email workflows automate rote patient processes and eliminate repetitive manual activities
- The Business Associate Agreement (BAA) removes hidden HIPAA compliance costs
- Easy integration into third-party domain settings
- Provides blanket encryption for all emails to ensure always-on compliance
- Automated impersonation detection
- Multi-device support
- Users cannot recall sent messages
- The costly subscription model
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Retaining a steady stream of users on your healthcare app can be a daunting task. RevenueWell solved this problem with their dental engagement, communication, and retention software, designed to help you attract and grow the patient base for your dental practice.
The platform ensures your staff focus on understanding your patient’s needs, so they can tailor enriching experiences that meet their needs.
RevenueWell’s marketing and communication platform supports your practice at all possible touchpoints and throughout the patient journey from social media all through the onboarding stage. The platform also manages other administrative tasks associated with the patient journey, such as scheduling, patient forms, appointment reminders, post-op instructions, and after-care.
- Provides follow-ups on treatment plans
- Social media management
- Online patient scheduling
- Provides virtual patient consultations and medical attention (Teledentistry)
- Screen pops before answering phone calls to summarize the patient quickly
- Provides customized welcome packets to enrich the onboarding process
- You can send personalized messages to patients
- Individualized newsletters to support your patient engagement efforts
- Dental practices get regular marketing tips to improve their relationship-building efforts
- Online reputation management service
- Automation of routine administrative tasks
- Self-service portal for patients
- Supports VolP calls
- Supports two-way texting
- Increases your dental practice’s online visibility
- Gives a one-time setup cost with no annual agreements
- Can identify unscheduled procedures and automatically communicate with the patients involved
- Provides multiple support options (video, knowledge base, call, chat)
- Only available as a web-based cloud service. No desktop, on-premises, or mobile app
- Has few customization options for email campaigns
Schedule a personal demo through RevenueWell’s website.
Choosing HIPAA Compliant Messaging Apps and Software
A HIPAA violation can result in a massive financial penalty that can cripple your organization. HIPAA compliant messaging apps and software are the best way to protect sensitive patient information.
When choosing HIPAA compliant messaging apps and software, it’s essential to consider the most important features to your organization. In addition, each app offers its own unique set of features, so be sure to compare them carefully before deciding.
Read next: How to Create Robust Processes for GDPR Compliance for US Companies