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How safe is smartphone use in day-to-day care delivery?

by Loren Bonner, DOTmed News Online Editor | July 17, 2013
Joseph Scott,
CEO of Jersey City Medical Center
With the majority of medical staff today using smart phones, it's no wonder that secure communication is becoming more of a concern than ever, since non-HIPAA messaging exposes these providers to unrecognized liabilities. In fact, last year the Joint Commission banned physicians from using traditional texting. But technology is working for technology's sake. One new app called Practice Unite is being used by over 800 providers to communicate securely. DOTmed News spoke with Joseph Scott, CEO of Jersey City Medical Center, about adopting the technology and his views about the use of mobile technology in the health care environment.

DMN: Give me a little background on Jersey City Medical Center?

JS: Jersey City Medical Center is a tertiary care community hospital in Hudson County, New Jersey. We also have an ambulatory center and several clinics in multiple locations across the city. We provide everything from high tech infant care to cardiac surgery, to in-patient rehabilitation. We recently signed a definitive agreement with Barnabas Health.

DMN: What's been your overall attitude toward adopting new technology communication tools?

JS: We have taken a measured and pragmatic approach. Our goals are to support our physicians and clinicians in delivering even better patient care, patient safety, as well as improvements in efficiency. We have adopted Siemens Soarian EMR and a number of tools to make this accessible to our medical staff. For example, we have provided them with XEN Desktop, which turns their mobile tablet devices into hospital-based computers so that they can access our systems securely from any location.

DMN: What's been your staff policy for mobile phone use?

JS: It's been a concern. The majority of our medical staff and clinicians use a smartphone. They are using them for a wide range of uses in the day-to-day delivery of care.

We have a clear policy that texting using regular text is not allowed. We have educated the staff about the importance of securing PHI and the potential HIPAA violation. It's hard to police. The fact is that like many hospitals, the majority of our physicians are not employed by us so there's a limit to how tightly we can control their activities.

DMN: What prompted you to consider using a private, secure texting and communication network for staff?

JS: We adopted Practice Unite as our secure HIPAA-compliant platform at the start of the year. In the near-term our priority was to provide our medical staff and clinicians with a secure, HIPAA-compliant texting solution.

evonia cobb

Decisions, decisions

August 11, 2013 12:20

We looked at Practice Unite, and ended up going with Tigertext in our medical practice, and although it is not an EMR app, it allows us to send HIPAA complient text between staff - which is what our real problem is and it is cost effective enough for us to afford it. It also offered Dropbox and Box HIPAA intigration which Practice Unite didn't.

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Loren Bonner

Re: Decisions, decisions

August 17, 2013 10:42

Thanks for your comment, Evonia. I'm sure it will be helpful to others looking at this kind of technology.

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