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POSTS BY TAG | Secure Messaging






pMD’s culture promotes the importance of customer feedback, which we’ve discussed in previous blog posts. Through conferences, implementations, and support, we’re always looking for the best way to enhance our product so that our customers can focus on improving patients’ lives. So, it’s no surprise that since its launch in 2014, pMD’s secure messaging product has been molded by the feedback and input of our customers.

Recently, the pMD team has consistently heard that providers would like to utilize pMD® Secure Messaging™ to communicate with their patients using the same platform they already use for internal communication. As emails go unanswered and phone calls are forwarded to voicemail, messaging becomes the most effective and efficient choice when deciding how to communicate with patients.

With the number of Americans that own smartphones continuing to rise to 77% in 2018 (Pew Research Center), more patients than ever before can connect with their health care providers, so we asked ourselves: how can we make the process of communicating from both sides - patient and provider - as seamless as possible?

When engineering pMD’s system for messaging with patients, we started with everything that makes pMD’s current secure messaging system an optimal solution for health care providers: an easy-to-use interface similar to your favorite text messaging app, an architecture built around security compliance, and a system of robust and reliable notifications to ensure that time sensitive information is delivered when it matters most. We spent time improving our sign up process to remove clunky steps and make sure that new patients can be on-boarded and start messaging in seconds.

On the provider side, we added clear delineations between internal and external messages, so providers, office staff, and administrators will always be reminded when their communication is being sent outside the organization. We know how important it is for providers to maintain control of the conversation threads, so we designed a system that allows caregivers to open and close conversations, while still allowing patients to initiate conversations. Providers’ personal information is hidden from patients’ view, and messages with patients can be shared among all members of the care team so that providers can collaborate and patients receive the highest quality care. pMD® Clinical Communication™ is already helping organizations deliver better care, and this additional feature set will allow those groups to reach their community on a whole new level.

pMD is currently working with innovative health care organizations to transform the way they interact with their patients. If you’re interested in learning how we can help improve your patient care through custom workflows and communication tools, contact us!

Find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our MIPS registry, charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, care navigation, and clinically integrated network software and services, please contact pMD.









Here’s a fun fact about me: before I started my career in health care technology sales, I was changing lives in other ways - I was a teacher. I hear a lot of shock when I talk about my career path, and how I could have made such a drastic shift. I mean, clearly the roles of sales and teaching are night and day, right? Well, not really, actually. I have found that the very characteristics that made me a great teacher - empathy, compassion, and being a good listener - really correlate strongly to my day-to-day sales role. There is one such trait that I have found to be even more critical in both my teaching role and my role at pMD: agility.

What does it mean to be agile? Quite literally, it means having the ability to move quickly and easily. As a pMD employee, especially on the sales team, it is imperative we are able to be agile. We must be able to shift our focus quickly, become product experts at the drop of a dime, relate what we know back to a practice’s current obstacles, and give our developers the ability to innovate while feeling confident the sales team will be able to show value in the new products they are building. Here’s an example of agility in action:

When I first started at pMD a little over 2 years ago, we really had 2 core products: pMD® Charge Capture™ and pMD® Secure Messaging™. It took me a while to understand and articulate the intricacies and value of those two products, but I eventually got into a groove. I was in my comfort zone. Suddenly there was talk of expanding our product line. Our customers needed more from us and we needed to rise to the occasion. Thus, we also became a MIPS Registry.

Now, if you aren’t sure what MIPS is, let me tell you that becoming knowledgeable enough to sell a MIPS registry product is no small feat. Many MIPS registries are exactly just that. They do not have other product lines they are selling simultaneously. At pMD, we were expected to know how MIPS reporting differed for an infectious disease practice versus a hospitalist group and so on, all while continuing to sell our existing product suite. Did the sales team complain and throw our hands up in defeat? Hardly! We were agile, quickly moving to learn all we could about MIPS, and providing our customers and prospective customers with the insight they needed to make an informed decision.

This agility has helped us to “go with the flow” as we continue to expand our product offering. A couple of months ago we added additional products to our product suite, such as pMD® Clinical Communication™, pMD® Care Navigation™, and pMD® Clinically Integrated Network™, to serve the needs of today’s health care market. We as a sales team have been at the forefront of explaining these products to our prospective practices and helping to communicate feedback to our developers. This allows us to grow as members of the pMD team, learn from industry best practices, and reshape pMD’s business priorities by listening to the market. While being agile can at times be challenging, it is also what keeps our day-to-day exciting because who is satisfied with the status quo?

Find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our MIPS registry, charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, care navigation, and clinically integrated network software and services, please contact pMD.









pMD’s products put the patient at the center of everything we do. When we pair innovative products with the creative, consultative approach we take for every customer inquiry and then in turn see the value to our patients, it is truly a remarkable feeling. One example below may best illustrate the impact that a pMD solution can have when care teams have a common platform to collaborate around patient care.  

A group of surgical residents caring for patients across various clinical teams needed a way to capture shared rounding notes on patients. In addition, they wanted to be able to communicate between teams using a secure messaging solution to share patient details, update care plans, and send pre- and post-operative photos.

Few technology solutions are available today to support patient care for residents. Many organizations currently use paper rounding notes that can be lost in the rush of the day, shared spreadsheets where only one resident can access the data at a time, or non-secure file-sharing programs. None of these options truly meet the residents’ needs. Since clunky workflows that are currently in place still get the job done, these old methods have continued into 2018.  

Resident groups tell us that better communication can improve patient outcomes. Residents using pMD Clinical Communication™ can send messages about patients and update each other on care plans. They have the ability to securely send images to a chief or attending physician for a second opinion. Additionally, patient data can be recorded at bedside right from their mobile phone and can include updating medications, allergies, code status, and care plans. These are all kept up-to-date, in real-time, and stored on a shared patient list visible to the whole group.

HIPAA-compliant, health care messaging that’s easy to use paired with pMD’s customizable platform for mobile data capture is exactly what these residents and administrators were looking for to bring their workflow into the twenty-first century.  

We know that each practice or group faces a unique set of challenges. That’s why we approach every opportunity as unique, invest time upfront to understand workflows that support patient care, and build solutions that account for those challenges. This is also why we here at pMD work closely with existing customers to implement new products and product features as those challenges evolve.

At pMD, we are customizing solutions to help teams deliver better patient care. To explore these solutions for your group or for more information on how pMD can support your unique practice or patient population, don’t hesitate to contact us.




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



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.

Last week eight of my colleagues and I were in Anchorage, Alaska working with physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers, care coordinators, patients, and more. Although we were meeting about an array of different items, including building and enhancing care communities, charge capture, secure messaging, and clinical data exchanges, they all share the same common goal of working in collaboration to fill the gaps in patient care.

Patients that are “frequent flyers” of hospitals often suffer from chronic conditions, bounce between many specialists, and are at higher risk of costly readmissions. Due to the fragmented nature of their care it can be difficult for caregivers to receive the right information about the patient at the right time. Big EHRs are drowning in data and are not always reliable to get the providers the bottomline, clinically relevant information they need in a timely fashion.

Doctors and staff throughout Anchorage are coming together in a grassroots effort to make change happen and improve the care that their patients are receiving, regardless of which provider in the community is delivering it. Connecting everyone together around the patient decreases medical costs, decreases duplicate tests, cuts down on medical mistakes, and it saves the patients and doctors valuable time, ultimately leading to better overall care.

This model of coordinated care in Alaska however, is not unique to Alaskans. What the caregivers in that part of the country have been able to do is create a connected care community where they are coordinating the care around the patients, especially as the patients move between providers and facilities. We’ve heard from customers in other areas of the country about this same mission of connecting the different caregivers together around the patient instead of the patient around each of the caregivers. An important part of the solution is having a secure channel to share information quickly and seamlessly, and at the foundation is the concept of one patient no matter how many doctors they see. pMD continues to be an integral communication platform for care teams, allowing them to send quick, secure, valuable information, and brings together a community so they can start talking with one another.

As a sales manager at pMD, I spend a lot of time with medical practices and hospitals that are evaluating our charge capture and secure messaging software - learning about the ins and outs of their businesses and how we can support them. Over the past couple of years and through the introduction of our secure text messaging platform, we’ve increasingly been curious to hear what groups are doing for communication with their colleagues, as well as with outside physicians. After all, communication is critical to providing quality patient care.

I’ve heard many startling answers. These range from, “We send regular texts with PHI all the time, we’re not worried about HIPAA” to, “What exactly do I have to text for it to be a HIPAA violation? I really have no idea, but it sounds bad“, and “We use iMessage and try to leave out PHI, which I think is secure enough.”

How can health care providers be on such drastically different pages with government regulations, especially when violation fines can cost up to $50,000 per text message? What we’ve discovered is that there is a staunch disconnect between the government bodies who write the compliance laws, the organizations that are supposed to be disseminating this information, and the providers who are supposed to be following them. The industry is still learning every day what is and isn’t OK according to these new rules and standards, and that process will take time.

There needs to be clearer direction from government agencies about how best to comply with these new rules, so providers can get back to focusing on why they got into medicine in the first place: helping patients. Implementing a good secure messaging solution is an integral step to making sure that these new regulations don’t get in the way of patient care.
The best text message is the one that you don’t have to send.

Don’t get me wrong - I’m happy that we offer a feature-rich, user-friendly secure text messaging product. But I’m even happier that in many cases, we can use automation to remove the need for a person to manually send a text message at all. At the end of the day, security is great; compliance is great; knowing when a message was read is great; automated reminders are great; file and image sharing are great; group messaging is great; adding external contacts from the community is great; cross-platform (mobile + web) is great… but what’s REALLY great is saving someone time.

This idea is actually the origin story of our secure text messaging software. Years ago, I remember sitting with a charge capture customer who was explaining the process for following up with the doctors about charges that the doctors had submitted through the software. The customer would first add a note to the charge in pMD so they had a record of the follow up. Then they would send the doctor a text message asking their question. The text message itself seemed pretty harmless to them, so they weren’t in the market for secure text messaging software; but when we added the ability for pMD to send that message for them automatically, they became avid users.

Once we started down this road, we saw people manually sending each other routine, repetitive, and nonsecure text messages everywhere. Office receptionists were texting doctors about every new hospital consult. Answering services were texting doctors about nurse calls that occurred after hours. Specialists were texting each other to refer a patient, re-typing demographics that already existed elsewhere. Hospital doctors were texting PCPs (if they even had the person’s phone number) to let them know what had happened to one of their patients who got hospitalized. All of this messaging wasn’t just putting patient information at risk - it was actually costing someone time. Each individual message was fast and easy to send, but for these repetitive tasks, they added up quickly.

In a world where every major software company has its own messaging features, automation is the key to selecting the software that your people will embrace and that will keep giving back to you instead of simply checking a box on a HIPAA-compliance audit.

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!
Hospitals and health systems are making slow progress toward securing their networks and patient data, and this year’s HIMSS Cybersecurity Survey surfaced what many health care organizations are afraid of: cybersecurity threats are continuing to rise, with two thirds of organizations having experienced some sort of security incident but less than a tenth feel they have adequate technology to protect themselves against security threats.

Our software helps physicians communicate about patient care compliantly, so naturally we ask new customers what kinds of communication software they typically use. iMessage is the popular choice given its unparalleled ease of use and ubiquity. And while iMessage has some methods of encryption that make it tougher for attackers between you and Apple’s server to hack your data, it’s not a fool-proof or HIPAA-compliant way to share PHI. Physicians are too busy to use the clumsy, slow, feature-lacking secure messaging software that epitomizes most apps on the market, so most of them revert back to iMessage and claim that the government can fine them or put them in jail all they want. But we can’t afford to lose good doctors to the government, especially given the imminent doctor shortage!

If physicians are going to change their nonsecure texting behavior, they need to have a convenient and fast secure messaging app. Watching a wheel spin for 10 seconds to load a conversation each time would cause anyone to trash an app - and I’ve seen this firsthand on far too many messaging apps.

There are a variety of tools that go into protecting sensitive data against security threats, including antivirus, firewalls, data encryption, audit logs, and vulnerability management. With the increasing government changes, it’s more important than ever to empower health care organizations with the best security software.


Source

2014 was beset by cyberattacks and health care privacy breaches (let’s not forget Sony’s recent escapade), so it’s no surprise that cybersecurity regulations will be heightened in 2015. Earlier this month Jocelyn Samuels, Director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services, addressed the severity of the current health care IT security issues:

“We are certainly seeing a rise in the number of individuals affected by hacking [and information technology] incidents, as reported by entities under our breach notification requirements, especially those due to malware compromising the security of information technology resources,” wrote Samuels. Samuels asserted the agency’s proactive HIPAA enforcement priorities for 2015 and increased focus on ePHI security.

Working with medical practices and physicians on a daily basis with charge capture, it surprises me how nonchalant many providers are when it comes to HIPAA-compliance with patient data. Their goal is to care for their patients, and seemingly tedious regulations are often ignored. But a new phase of HIPAA audits is about to take place among medical organizations and will make the regulations that much harder to ignore.

Initial HIPAA-compliance audits occurred in 2011 and 2012 to determine if health care organizations were in compliance with security regulations around health care data. The roll out of phase 2 of the HIPAA audits was delayed in 2014, but the audits are expected to start in early 2015. HIPAA regulations apply to covered health care organizations as well as their business associates; those that hold or access sensitive patient data on a regular basis are eligible. Organizations found in violation of HIPAA regulations during the audits could face financial penalties.

If you haven’t done so already, and we sure hope you have, now is the time to implement a robust HIPAA-compliance policy. This includes adopting HIPAA-compliant software such as secure messaging and other data encryption techniques. It’s important to also test your systems for vulnerabilities that can leave sensitive patient information susceptible to breaches and malware. If you were to undergo a HIPAA audit today, would you pass?

Additional information for HIPAA audits, such as timing, scope, and guidelines, will be posted on the OCR website in the coming months.