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Secure Messaging Key Focal Point for Most Wired Hospitals

The majority of the Most Wired Hospitals utilize secure messaging and secure emails to help providers and patients keep in contact.

Secure messaging and secure email top resource used by Most Wired hospitals.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth Snell

- Smart phones are becoming increasingly critical aspects for healthcare providers, with the American Hospital Association’s Hospital & Health Networks (H&HN) Most Wired rankings showing secure messaging a key tool for patients and providers.

Approximately three-quarters of the Most Wired hospitals offer secure messaging with clinicians on mobile devices. Telehealth and remote monitoring services were also top focus areas for the Most Wired hospitals.

The Most Wired survey had 698 participants across an estimated 2,158 hospitals in the US. This represents more than 39 percent of the nation’s hospitals.

“The Most Wired hospitals are using every available technology option to create more ways to reach their patients in order to provide access to care,” AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said in a statement. “They are transforming care delivery, investing in new delivery models in order to improve quality, provide access and control costs.”

Seventy-four percent of the hospitals also use secure emails for patients and families to maintain contact with the care team when patients require ongoing monitoring at home.

Mobile devices are also being utilized for the prescription renewal process. Sixty-two percent said they can simplify that process by letting patients make the requests on mobile devices.

Secure patient information exchange is also an increasingly popular priority for hospitals, with 97 percent saying they use intrusion detection systems.

Ninety-six percent of the Most Wired hospitals also reported they perform data access audits, while approximately 90 percent said they run targeted phishing exercises. This helps employees recognize suspicious emails and work to avoid potential data exposure.

Data recovery was also reviewed in the survey. Fifty-eight percent of the Most Wired respondents said clinical information systems (i.e. the EHR, laboratory, radiology) would be available within four hours. In comparison, 49 percent of all respondents reported the same.

Human resources, financial systems, human resources and staffing, and supply chain management would also be available within four hours, according to nearly half of the Most Wired respondents.

More patients are able to access their own data as well. Seventy-four percent of respondents said they offer patient-specific education in multiple languages. Additionally, 68 percent stated patients are given the ability to electronically transmit data about a hospital admission to another provider.

Specifically, 46 percent of those surveyed said they have the ability to share clinician visit notes with patients.

The recognized providers also showed an increased use in telehealth and remote monitoring services.

For example, 40 percent offer virtual physician visits and approximately half use telehealth to provide behavioral health services to more patients.

Providers utilizing secure messaging options can also have a positive impact on patients using the same features.

A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) found that provider secure messaging levels can predict their patients’ communicative behavior.

Patients who had providers that were highly responsive to other patients’ messages initiated 334 percent more secure messages than patients with providers who did not personally respond to other patients’ messages, the study showed.

“Secure messaging could facilitate the development of deeper relationships by increasing interaction time, making patients more comfortable about asking questions and discussing embarrassing issues, and allowing physicians to provide better advice and education,” researchers explained. “However, such benefits are likely to be realized only if patients and providers are both committed users of the technology.”

The JMIR study also found that patients with high initiation-messaging providers were 60 percent more likely to send a secure message than patients with non-initiation-messaging providers. Patients also sent 14 percent more messages in a given observed month for every additional primary care visit during the month prior.

Researchers also noted that reducing the communication recommendation – per a CMS proposed change to the HITECH Act – may not be the best way to encourage secure messaging use.

“The way and degree to which providers generally engage in messaging may represent a marker of the level of approachability that is perceived by their patients during care,” researchers noted. “Provider receptiveness to communication, an otherwise difficult-to-assess factor, might be indicated by the willingness of patients to initiate secure messages with their clinicians.”

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