Secure communication remains critical for behavioral healthcare professionals. Learn what security feature you should look for in your EHR?
Secure Communication and Health Information Exchange in Your EHR
Secure communication remains critical for behavioral healthcare professionals, and for good reason. Even a single billing error or missing document can put a behavioral healthcare organization, its employees and its clients at risk. Fortunately, with the right processes and protocols in place, a behavioral healthcare organization can minimize such dangers.
Thankfully, Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems are available that may help a behavioral healthcare organization secure its client information and ensure authorized users have access to the data at any time.
A behavioral healthcare organization that fails to prioritize secure communication and Health Information Exchange (HIE) in its EHR system may encounter a wide range of problems. Fortunately, we're here to help you understand the importance of EHR with secure client information exchange, and how it can benefit your organization for years to come.
What Is Secure Communication and HIE?
Today, behavioral healthcare organizations need state-of-the-art technologies to manage client medical records effectively. At the same time, these organizations must prioritize security, and failure to do so may cause severe problems. Many behavioral healthcare organizations leverage EHR systems, despite the fact that clients sometimes remain skeptical about their effectiveness.
For example, InformationWeek reported on a recent study of 1,000 healthcare clients which showed that 47 percent of respondents said they believed paper-based health records "were more secure than those stored on clinical informatics networks." On the other hand, 54 percent of healthcare physicians noted they felt medical informatics systems were more secure than paper-based alternatives.
HIE bridges the gap between clients and healthcare professionals in regards to the security of EHR systems. They empower behavioral healthcare organizations to safeguard client medical data and provide secure access to this information at any time. A quality HIE system also protects this information against malware, viruses and other potential cybersecurity dangers.
Furthermore, HIE emphasizes Meaningful Use (MU) requirements, i.e. EHR measurement thresholds that must be met for a behavioral healthcare organization to comply with federal mandates, along with a strong focus on collaboration and coordination among healthcare professionals.
HIE empowers behavioral healthcare organizations to provide secure, immediate access to client data to ensure clients are fully supported. That way, clients can receive treatments tailored to their individual needs, faster than ever before.
How Is HIE Used in Healthcare?
In the past, client medical information was stored exclusively on paper. If a behavioral healthcare organization required instant access to this data, the organization would have been forced to wait, sometimes resulting in slower, less effective consumer care.
Comparatively, the combination of EHR systems and HIE accelerates the process of providing behavioral healthcare organizations with client medical data and improving consumer treatments.
EHR systems ensure client medical information is secure and accessible at all times, available to authorized behavioral healthcare organization users. Thus, the use of electronic records delivers anywhere, anytime access to client medical data, reducing the need to go through stacks of paper documents or await the arrival of documents to assist a client.
In addition, an EHR system allows behavioral healthcare organizations to avoid the dangers associated with duplicate testing, medication errors and much more. It enables behavioral healthcare professionals to review client data with ease, get up-to-date information about a particular client and provide the right client diagnosis at the right time consistently.
HIE, meanwhile, fosters communication among behavioral healthcare professionals, enabling these professionals to work together to provide better results for clients.
Currently, there are three types of HIE for behavioral healthcare organizations:
- Direct Exchange — Enables behavioral healthcare organizations to share client data with one another directly to coordinate client treatments.
- Query-Based Exchange — Allows a behavioral healthcare professional to request information about a consumer.
- Consumer Mediated Exchange — Empowers a client to control how their medical data is shared between behavioral healthcare organizations.
Usually, Direct Protocol serves as an ideal option for behavioral healthcare organizations, as it provides them with the ability to share authenticated, encrypted client data without delay.
How Can Direct Exchange Benefit Your Clients?
As a behavioral healthcare organization, you'll want to capitalize on secure HIE in your EHR. If you utilize HIE with Direct Protocol, you'll be better equipped to meet the needs of your clients both now and in the future.
Direct Protocol enables a behavioral healthcare organization to send electronic care summaries related to consumer medications, problems and lab results. Therefore, Direct Protocol is ideal for a behavioral healthcare organization that wants to limit the risk of duplicate tests, redundant collection of consumer data, unnecessary client visits and medication errors.
With Direct Protocol, behavioral healthcare organizations are required to follow specific standards designed to provide fast, secure electronic delivery of client information between healthcare participants. Direct Protocol facilitates immediate communication that is secure and effective — something not guaranteed with paper-based notifications — to drive collaboration between care givers.
In addition, Direct Protocol provides unsurpassed security, providing exceptional protection for both a behavioral healthcare organization and its clients.
The National Rural Health Resource Center points out that Direct Exchange requires behavioral healthcare organizations to:
- Provide a valid email address for both the sender and recipient.
- Utilize a digital certificate that assigns a behavioral healthcare organization a private key and a public key.
When a Direct Protocol sends a message, a recipient will retrieve the notification from their email address and need to decrypt it. The private key empowers authorized users within a behavioral healthcare organization to decrypt the message. If a notification were to fall into the wrong hands, the encrypted message could only be read by an authorized recipient who possesses the private key.
Direct Protocol capabilities are valuable for behavioral healthcare organizations that leverage EHR systems. However, not all EHR systems feature Direct Protocol, so you'll want to ensure that you know exactly which questions to ask your EHR vendor to guarantee this capability is available to your behavioral healthcare organization.
What Should You Look For in an EHR System?
An EHR system can be a costly investment, so you'll want to do your homework before you invest in an EHR with secure client communication.
Healthcare IT News reports Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT data shows healthcare organizations may spend up to $70,000 on an average EHR system. No matter how much your organization spends on an EHR, however, there are no guarantees that this system will meet the needs of your organization day after day.
As such, you should try to find an EHR system that delivers Direct Protocol capabilities as well as support in a number of other areas, including:
- Interoperability — An effective EHR system should be user-friendly, enabling behavioral healthcare organization users to access client data whenever they need it. This system should help a behavioral healthcare organization become more efficient by enhancing the delivery of care and providing the correct consumer data to authorized users.
- Features — A visually appealing, easy-to-learn EHR system may deliver outstanding return on investment (ROI) for a behavioral healthcare organization, regardless of the size. The ideal system should include features that empower end users, allowing these users to optimize their productivity and get the consumer information they need without having to worry about errors or delays.
- Support — If a problem arises with an EHR system, how will your behavioral healthcare organization handle such an issue? Try to find an EHR system provider with a proven reputation, i.e. a provider that will go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure your system consistently fulfills all of your requests. By doing so, you can enjoy worry-free support from a dependable EHR system provider any time you need it.
Of course, how an EHR system protects client information 24/7 remains crucial for a behavioral healthcare organization as well.
What Security and Privacy Features Should You Look For in an EHR System?
A behavioral healthcare organization's EHR system must comply with federal mandates, such as:
- HIPAA: Maintaining compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules for protected health information (PHI) and electronic protected health information (ePHI) is essential. These rules outline a behavioral healthcare organization's responsibilities to its clients, the use of cybersecurity measures to safeguard consumer data and the general privacy and security of individually identifiable health information.
- Security Process Standard: A behavioral healthcare organization must be able to perform a risk analysis of its EHR system. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) provides a downloadable Security Risk Assessment (SRA) Tool that enables a behavioral healthcare organization to identify, evaluate and address security risks.
MU: As part of the MU requirement, a behavioral healthcare organization must comply with specific requirements relative to the use of an EHR system for patient care. The requirement establishes objectives that a behavioral healthcare organization must achieve to qualify for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Incentive Programs. It is important to note that MU Stage 2 requirements recently were published that must be met, too.
Other security and privacy factors that a behavioral healthcare organization should consider as it reviews EHR systems include:
- Encryption: HIPAA regulations do not require encryption, but this capability can make a world of difference when it comes to securing client data. Encryption ensures an authorized user can only read consumer data with a decryption key. As a result, encryption offers extraordinary value for a behavioral healthcare organization, as it grants additional protection against the risk of unauthorized access to consumer data.
- Role-Based Access Controls: Having the ability to control access to consumer data is vital, particularly if your behavioral healthcare organization employs many healthcare professionals. Role-based access controls (RBAC) ensure your organization can guarantee only those who perform specific roles can retrieve specific client data. RBAC serve as a reliable safeguard against unlawful information retrieval by employees.
- Password Protection: A first-rate EHR system will require authorized users to set up a password that contains a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. The system will mandate that end users change their passwords periodically, and requires a user to enter their password if an account is inactive for more than a few minutes. Many EHR systems also require two-factor authentication, which ensures an end user must enter a password, followed by answering a security question to verify their identity.
Audit Trail: With an EHR system, you'll always want to ensure that the network tracks who accesses client data, when they accessed the information and for how long. Moreover, with an EHR system that offers audit trail capabilities, you'll be able to keep track of the access of client data consistently.
Secure communication in your EHR is necessary, and for a superior behavioral healthcare EHR system that will serve you well, there may be no better choice than Epitomax® EHR for behavioral health from PsyTech Solutions.
Epitomax offers a number of distinct features that make it a long-lasting option for a behavioral healthcare organization, including:
- Advanced interoperability with other systems
- Capabilities that support outcomes and quality management
- Care integration and coordination assistance
- Private and secure messaging
- Automated and user-driven alerts
- e-Prescribing features
PsyTech Solutions also has collaborated with DataMotion, a leading provider of secure data delivery solutions, to incorporate its DataMotion™ Direct secure messaging service into Epitomax.
DataMotion Direct empowers a behavioral healthcare organization to send and receive PHI securely, regardless of the circumstances. The messaging service supports the transmission of a wide assortment of sensitive data as well, such as:
- Client care documents
- Large images
- Personal messages
Let's not forget about DataMotion Direct's support of in-network and out-of-network communications either.
DataMotion Direct guarantees client data is processed and stored in a safe, effective manner. It even follows common best practices for superb client data security, such as:
- Strong, reliable encryption
- Data backup and disaster recovery
- High availability of data
Other key features of DataMotion Direct include:
- Integration with federated Healthcare Provider Directories
- Capable of handling large documents and images up to 2GB
- Designed for use with mobile devices
- Offers enterprise-level security to behavioral healthcare organizations of all sizes
At PsyTech Solutions, we understand that finding a safe, effective EHR system is rarely simple. But with our support, you'll be able to see how our Epitomax EHR system can help a behavioral healthcare organization streamline its client data management and operations.
We strive to ensure that you're able to provide the highest level of care to your clients. As such, we will work with you to ensure that our Epitomax EHR system fulfills your needs. If you ever have concerns or questions along the way, we're always happy to lend a helping hand.
When it comes to learning about Epitomax, we also understand that it's always better to see what an EHR system is all about. Therefore, we offer a no-obligation software demo that gives you the chance to see what our Epitomax EHR system can do for your organization.
To learn more about our Epitomax EHR system, please contact us today to schedule a no-obligation online software demo.