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Case Study

Skilled Nursing Facility Goes Mobile While Staying HIPAA-Compliant

Secure Messaging Coordinates Care for a Team of Skilled Nursing Clinicians

Spotlight: Skilled Nursing and Home Care

Health System: Accredited Home Care – one of Southern California’s leading in-home care providers, with 3,000 field nurses and caregivers serving more than 15,000 patients

Key Results:

  • Ensured HIPAA compliance and the safe transmission of patient information between staff and a large network of field nurses
  • Improved workflow and reduced response times

Hospital Affiliation: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

In an increasingly mobile healthcare environment where bring-your-own device policies have become common and data is often shared between providers, HIPAA compliance is, without a doubt, a major concern.

HIPAA might have been introduced in 1996, but it has been in the headlines lately, especially since electronic health records and other mobile health technology have become the standard in hospitals. Although these innovations optimize workflow and promote secure communication, protecting patient privacy is more important now than ever with these devices.

Challenges

Danrochelle Yumul, an assistant to the COO of Accredited Nursing, knew that something better had to be available to keep the company HIPAA compliant but still mobile. Accredited is a home care agency that provides several service lines, including licensed care with registered nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists.

The organization operates remotely most of the time, and it also provides services for the elderly as well as special needs patients. Because caregiving for a diverse population on a mobile basis requires frequent communication, a secure texting platform was the perfect fit for Accredited. In the past, the practice had relied on an email platform for communication purposes, but since many healthcare professionals use mobile devices, the system’s setup felt a bit outdated.

What they needed was an encrypted, HIPAA-compliant text messaging service, because a lot of people prefer texting and it made the most sense, according to Yumul.

Accredited has a HIPAA committee, and one of its key concerns was the increase of data breaches in the community. Yumul’s team didn’t waste any time trying to protect PHI. Although the COO did a lot of the frontend research, she was instrumental in bringing Halo Communications to the organization in August 2014.

“We wanted to do a text messaging service where everything was secure and encrypted,” Yumul says.

Although Accredited looked at several secure text messaging providers, they ultimately chose Halo because its clinical communication platform was the easiest one to use.

Results

The ease of communication was felt quickly at Accredited once clinicians began using Halo last year. It’s been a very effective tool for getting in touch with other nurses and clinicians, Yumul says. Additionally, the response times are “so much faster” due to the straightforward interface. Photo features have also been utilized between clinicians, showing the versatility of the app.

“A lot of nurses now prefer just using Halo,” Yumul explains. “Our staffers use Halo constantly, and it’s been a very effective tool in getting in touch with the nurses and clinicians.” The group messaging option, in particular, helps all clinicians with Accredited stay on the same page.

Workflow has also improved greatly as a result of the app, especially for staff such as the Accredited home health liaison at CedarsSinai. Usually, this individual would have to pick up the phone and call clinicians, which could become quite complicated on her end. Now, any referrals or other administrative tasks she needs to perform can be done simply and securely with Halo, making the process much faster for her.

“It was a surprisingly easy transition getting everyone involved on to Halo,” Yamul notes. “It has become a staple for our staff members.”

Thanks to Halo’s easy to-use platform and HIPAA-compliant design, Yumul and the rest of her colleagues can exchange vital patient information quickly and safely without the threat of data breaches. Download case study

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