Buyers guide: Secure healthcare messaging systems

Secure healthcare messaging systems: Ten key questions

In this interview with Diagnotes’ CEO Dave Wortman, he discusses the most important questions – from technology and telehealth to team collaboration – that health systems should ask when evaluating a secure healthcare messaging system.

1. Is the healthcare messaging system secure?

According to Wortman, any messaging system should be able to demonstrate that the data being shared between two or more people is encrypted in transit as well as at rest – that is, when the data is stored away on the cloud, or a server, for discovery and audit purposes. “The other thing you want to be sure of is that there’s nothing stored on the device that is being used to create and transmit and receive messages,” he says. “You don’t want any data cached on the devices themselves.”

2. Does the messaging system integrate with EHRs and scheduling systems?

To truly deliver healthcare benefits, the messaging system needs to be able to connect with other systems used by your organization. For example, these can be the on-call scheduling system, the medical records system, paging system, or analytics platform. “You want the messaging system to be connected to any other system that provides data that needs to be shared within the care team on behalf of patients,” Wortman says.

3. Does the messaging system speed up communication?

One of the benefits of using a messaging system is accelerating the delivery of more effective care. “For example, let’s say an ED doctor is seeing a patient with a ruptured Achilles tendon. The ED doctor will reach out to an orthopedic surgeon for a consult, but if they use a pager/phone system, there will be a marked delay in response. If the orthopedic surgeon tries to get back to the ER doc, and the ER doc is seeing another patient while she’s waiting for the orthopedic surgeon – time continues to click off,” Wortman says.

“Under a secure messaging system that connects everybody involved in care in real time, I can see more patients more effectively, in the same amount of time – without sacrificing the quality of care.”

4. Does the messaging system empower care team collaboration?

According to Wortman, “The traditional point-to-point secure messaging system can’t deliver true care team collaboration. They can automate some of the messaging, but they don’t mirror the way that collaboration actually takes place.”

“Today’s advanced messaging systems can effectively model the workflow that your teams actually use, and can deliver a sophisticated level of automation and efficiency. An advanced system really moves the needle on cost and quality.”

5. Does the messaging system facilitate external collaboration?

No healthcare organization is totally self-sufficient – there are referral partners, discharge partners, patient families, and the patients themselves. “There have to be ways that you can communicate effectively with all of those constituencies,” Wortman says.

An advanced messaging system will let any user of the app connect to any other user, even when they work in a different facility. And it also lets users securely and easily communicate with people who do not have the app, such as patients.

6. Does the messaging system manage alert fatigue?

Clinicians are often frustrated by the number of alerts they get, whether from pagers or secure messaging systems. “Anything we can do to ensure that the alerts that they get are the ones that they need and want – as opposed to ones that someone else thought they may want to know about – is an significant improvement,” Wortman says.

A messaging system should allow both sender and receiver to have real control over what gets sent and received, so that only those alerts that are of real value are coming through. “And the corollary to that, is you never want a clinician to miss something, if it’s something they need to know,” he says.

7. Does the system seamlessly integrate telehealth?

“We’ve all learned to communicate with each other using text, voice and video. And we should be able to do that in delivering care,” Wortman says.

This means the secure messaging system must enable the care team to move seamlessly from text to voice to video. “Whenever two or more people want to connect live with video, you want easy access to video capabilities, and you certainly don’t want to hop around from one app to another in order to do that,” Wortman says

8. Is it familiar and easy to learn?

“It’s vitally important that a healthcare app that we expect clinicians to use should look and feel like apps that they are familiar with,” according to Wortman. Users should also be able to use it immediately after download, without any lengthy training program. “No app has value unless people use it. And you want them to be joyously using the app that you put in front of them from the start,” Wortman says.

9. Is the messaging system designed specifically for healthcare?

“Taking a general purpose communication tool and trying to apply it to healthcare will create gaps”, Wortman says. “Standard text messaging is not HIPAA compliant, and does not allow the user to know which cardiologist is on call at 2 AM. The security and workflow requirements for healthcare are unique. Ideally, any messaging system should be designed by clinicians, for clinicians.”

10. Does the company have proven success with health care systems?

“A messaging system company should have a successful track record with organizations of various sizes – from health systems to larger IDNs. But it’s also important to find a vendor with an app that has the specific features that address the problem or problems you’re trying to solve,” Wortman says.

And while the process of innovation with software applications is always ongoing, Wortman points out that larger vendors may not be as willing to respond to customers’ requests. “A smaller, more innovative, more nimble company is going to be more responsive,” he says.

About Diagnotes

Diagnotes is a messaging platform for health systems that goes beyond secure texting. Our mobile platform accelerates clinical communication and gives your care teams the power to collaborate seamlessly in real time. The result: Our clients achieve increased clinician and patient satisfaction and reduced costs.


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89% faster on-call consults
48% reduction in readmittance
$700k in savings