Texting App Looks To Improve Hospital Workflow

New free HIPAA-compliant mobile texting app for doctors differs from competitors because it can archive text messages and is easier to maintain, says maker Imprivata.

Michelle McNickle, Associate Editor of InformationWeek Healthcare

October 8, 2012

3 Min Read

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The explosion of mobile healthcare is spurring a myriad of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-compliant apps that promise to improve communications between physicians and patients. IT security company Imprivata is looking to get a piece of the action with Cortext, which is describes as the first free app that improves hospital efficiency and security by taking workflow into consideration.

Belinda Hayes, general manager of the mobile products group at Imprivata, said in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare that Cortext is the "healthcare industry's first free HIPAA-compliant text messaging application that includes the features to serve the hospital market."

"There are more… texting apps out there that target the healthcare market and are secure, but if you think about what features are required to support healthcare ... there are additional features that are needed, like archiving," Hayes said.

Cortext lets doctors save their text exchanges with patients for 60 or 90 days to conduct additional care analysis. "We provide the ability for the team to look back at how effective the communication was by using this archiving, and it also allows the physicians and clinicians to have a record for capturing patient care documentation in the official patient record," said Hayes.

Maintainability is another key differentiator of the Cortext app, said Hayes. In an organization where a clinician might work one day a week, or a Fellow has a term of six months or one year, "We provide hospital IT with the tools to actually manage their texting providers through the same system they use to manage users on their email." That system is Microsoft Active Directory, "which 99% of hospitals have," said Hayes.

[ Read Android And BlackBerry Safer Than iOS For SMS. ]

Hayes and Sean Kelly, MD, chief medical officer at Imprivata, developed Cortext by asking physicians about their texting habits. Imprivata looked specifically at clinician workflows, and then talked to security professionals at various hospitals. "We said, 'Okay, we know what we want from a workflow standpoint,' but we wanted to know what would be required to label this secure and maintainable in a hospital environment, given how stretched resources are…our goal was to marry those two together. With security and usability, there's always a tension--how do you make something secure but not go too far down the road to make it unusable?"

Hayes said 49 hospitals helped test the beta version of Cortext. It officially released the app Tuesday.

Henry Soch, leader at healthcare intelligence firm Sg2's Center for Clinical Technology, said there are a number of apps available that are HIPAA compliant and seek to perform the same functions as the Cortext app. A few include MediGram, a HIPAA-compliant platform for messaging among clinicians; HIPPOmsg, another secure texting platform created by physicians; and similar apps developed by organizations such as the Mayo Clinic and Boston Children's Hospital.

"The reason these apps are created and the uptake is so quick for physicians is the interface is known to them," said Soch. "They're used to working with smartphones and tablets, and there's a big pull from physicians to create these apps and use them…the use of mobile technology is spotty right now, but we think that's going to change in the next 10 years, and what's driving that is this rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets by clinicians."

InformationWeek Healthcare brought together eight top IT execs to discuss BYOD, Meaningful Use, accountable care, and other contentious issues. Also in the new, all-digital CIO Roundtable issue: Why use IT systems to help cut medical costs if physicians ignore the cost of the care they provide? (Free with registration.)

About the Author(s)

Michelle McNickle

Associate Editor of InformationWeek Healthcare

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