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where we cover interesting and relevant news, insights, events, and more related to the health care industry and pMD. Most importantly, this blog is a fun, engaging way to learn about developments in an ever-changing field that is heavily influenced by technology.

POSTS BY TAG | Messaging


Imagine, if you can, a world where medical information crosses boundaries - safely, reliably, timely, as effortlessly as water. What is required to create such permeable boundaries? Sure, there are the base technical requirements. System B must be able to read, understand, and digest System A’s output. As convoluted as medical information standards can be, there are reliable pieces there. Reliable yet limited.

So, to achieve something more dynamic, deeper, and more useful, what is required?  I think trust plays an outsized role. I am not talking about the trust inherent in the security profiles of each system, though that is important. I'm talking about the trust of the people involved. The human element.  You need to know who you are working with, what they are about, and establish if they are on the same page.

At pMD, we actively seek out partners with whom we can achieve richer technical connections as well as dynamic personal collaborations.  A recent example is the links we are building with a regional EMR company called iMed.  iMed reached out to us last year as they were assessing partners to perform the MIPS registry role for their customers.  Their dream was to create a new module in their software allowing their customers to collect quality data as they entered clinical data into iMed. This made a lot of sense. Capturing quality data in real time would help their customers achieve their MIPS reporting goals and set them up for ongoing success as the medical market continues to reach towards measurements beyond the raw financial value of services.

We met their team, shared what pMD does and what they needed and found a compelling fit.  As they developed this new module we worked closely with their team to share what registry reporting requires so they could consider those requirements in their software.  Finally, we attended their user group meeting, spoke with their customers alongside their team to better link their customers, the module, and pMD’s MIPS registry services together.

We are currently rolling out version one of our collaboration, which allows for regular data uploads from our now mutual customers into pMD, sharing that data back with the reporting providers, and targeting gaps and opportunities for improvement.  The goal is to fully automate this process this year.

It has been a rewarding and productive collaborative effort to create real interoperability between iMed and pMD, for the benefit of those providers using both systems. This type of work is part of fulfilling our mission to make doctors happy and we hope for many years working with our friends at iMed and others who want to create more vital, dynamic, and trusting health care data ecosystems.

 If you'd like to find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our MIPS registry, charge capture, secure messaging, and care coordination software and services, please contact pMD.

At pMD, we are constantly working to update and improve the secure text messaging functionality in our mobile and web applications. Our team continues to collect feedback from our users about how pMD Messaging works for them in their medical practices, which helps us prioritize new features and think about what makes a great messaging product. pMD’s HIPAA-compliant text messaging is unique in that we enable users to securely communicate about patient information, but in certain aspects, we take cues from other text messaging programs (of which there are a countless number!) that many people use for everyday communication.

With such a large offering of different messaging platforms available for smartphones, tablets, and the web, what components make a secure messaging product stand out from all the others and become indispensable to its users?

Cross-Platform Functionality Many of my colleagues and friends use iPhones, but I’m an Android user. Often times, medical practices have a “no cell phone” policy for their office-based employees, but those employees still need to communicate information to their physicians in the hospital in real-time. Having a messaging product that works seamlessly across different mobile operating systems as well as the web is essential for uninterrupted communication, especially for time-sensitive information.

Read Receipts Whether I’m waiting for a confirmation from home that the cat was fed his dinner, or a nurse is waiting for acknowledgment that a doctor received her notes about a new consult in the emergency room, knowing whether or not your message was read is an essential feature for any messaging application.

Emoticons? We’ve gotten a surprising amount of requests for Emoji support in our secure messaging software. I guess I understand the appeal of quickly replying with a thumbs-up icon instead of stopping to type out the words “got it,” but I’m not sure if I’d be able to decipher how a string of emoticons translated to patient care instructions.

Custom Ringtones My personal preference is to have my phone on mute whenever possible, but that’s not always an option for busy doctors! Being able to assign custom alert sounds to certain contacts or applications can be essential for a physician on weekend call waiting for messages from the hospital (or, for the rest of us, simply trying to ignore the latest wave of push notifications from Candy Crush). That’s why we’re very excited to be adding custom ringtones to the pMD application soon!

These are the current and future messaging features that have been on our mind lately at pMD. We are always keeping our ears open for customer feedback, and we’re looking forward to hearing about other features they’d like to see added to our software down the line!

Physicians have been texting each other about patient care since the invention of the BlackBerry, if not before. Texting is the perfect medium for direct provider-to-provider communication, which is critical in the hospital environment where the sickest patients need round-the-clock care by a diverse team of specialists. Since the HIPAA Omnibus changes came into effect in late 2013, medical practices have scrambled to secure their texting so that they could continue to communicate it real time while complying with the law.

Replacing SMS text messages is not without its challenges. Traditional texting is very reliable. All you need to receive an SMS text message is the barest, most minimal cellular signal - "1x," let's say, or "EDGE."

Pagers, still a staple of the medical industry, are even more reliable. They use a different wavelength that can penetrate buildings and landscapes with ease. In an industry where getting a message means the difference between a patient getting care or not getting care, it's no wonder that the pager is beloved by so many physicians. The message always arrives.

Compared to these increasingly old-school methods, secure text messaging apps offer many benefits, such as a global address book for the practice and protection of any HIPAA-sensitive patient information. But to gain all-important physician adoption, the app needs to overcome the challenges of the hospital environment where it’s hard to find a strong and reliable data signal.

For example, a pediatric hospitalist walks into the Pediatric ICU to see some patients. This room is deep within a hospital sub-basement, and she doesn’t have any data service there - just the barest sliver of phone reception. A basic secure texting app uses its own push notifications to notify users that there’s new information, but she won’t receive that app notification until hours later when she’s done seeing patients. By that time it may be too late for her to act on it, and she may have made some medical decisions without having the most up-to-date information.

A more advanced secure text messaging app also offers fallback options if a device can't be reached in a timely fashion. Knowing that the hospitalist may not have data service if they haven’t read the message after a period of time, the advanced app can try other ways to notify her that she has a message waiting, such as sending a regular SMS text message - or even a voice call - reminder without any sensitive data. These often get through even when app push notifications don't. At this point, the hospitalist can return to a place where she has data coverage, or can find a computer on which to read the message.

The best secure text messaging apps embrace the unpredictability and constraints of the chaotic hospital environment. This is why pMD took into account the frustrating cell reception in health care facilities when we designed our HIPAA secure text messaging and mobile charge capture software. This is such a key usability factor that we engineered an entire system of notifications and reminders to make sure that providers would know they have a message waiting in pMD, even if they are outside of data service. An app is more than an app when it has a system backing it that makes sure the message gets delivered - it becomes a reliable tool to save lives. This provides the peace of mind that makes doctors happy.