Disappointment.  Anger.  Frustration.  Betrayal.

A wave of emotion rushes over me every time I open my inbox and see a secure email sitting there, staring me in the face.

I take a deep breath and try to channel compassion and kindness for whomever sent the dreaded message — I know they were trying to do the right thing.  HIPAA compliance is important, from both a regulatory and ethical standpoint, and secure mail is a means to that end.  So it’s fine…it’ll be fine.

But it’s not.  By the time I click on the secure link, establish a username and password and click on another link to finally access the content of the message, my blood is boiling again.  Why so many clicks?  Why?  We shouldn’t have to live like this.

Thankfully, we don’t.  Secure texting is quickly surpassing email as the preferred HIPAA-compliant messaging solution, and the change can’t come soon enough.  There may be those among you who are thinking, “wait, I thought email was cool.  I can send email on my smartphone”  That’s cute.  Email is cool, in its own way, but not secure email.  Never secure email.

Who uses it?

There are only two potential exceptions to the “no secure email” rule that come to mind.

  1. You work for a large hospital or health system and you’re stuck at a computer all day, likely send emails to your colleagues that are already on the same secure email system because the bureaucracy mandates it.
  2. You work in revenue cycle management (AKA billing) and you use secure email to communicate with the carriers and clearinghouse.  If this is the case, it is probably the least of your problems.  Godspeed, brave soul.

Even in these two instances secure texting would be a better, easier means of communicating, but adoption of new technology in these venues is slow and challenging.

Secure texting > Secure email

For small to medium-size physician practices, home health agencies, nursing homes, mental and behavioral health organizations and a whole range of other healthcare providers, secure texting incorporates all the functionality of secure email, without all the extra clicks.  Clinicians can attach photos, lab results, insurance cards, and any other PHI that needs to be shared.  It’s a vastly easier, quicker and — in many cases — cheaper way for providers to communicate with one another, their staff, or their patients.