Medical pagers are part of medical lore. The pagers go off and doctors go running. Pagers go off and doctors leave the table to call into their answering services. The pager was always a key player in a medical story.
So, what happened to the medical pager? Have they gone by the wayside or are they still being used in hospitals by medical professionals?
Modern technology and the onset of HIPAA laws impacted the use of pagers. How does a cell phone not break the same HIPAA laws? How can a pager still communicate to a medical provider and yet still abide by stringent HIPAA requirements?
Read on to learn how to use pager and be HIPAA compliant.
What is HIPAA?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA started in 1996. HIPAA is a federal law that does several things including:
- Providing national standards
- Protects sensitive patient health information
- Addressing the use and disclosure of individuals’ health information
Patients must provide both their knowledge of their rights and consent to have information about them released to health insurance or service providers. The goal of HIPAA is to protect a patient's health information. Yet at the same time offer quality health care.
HIPAA requires the use of the privacy rule. The privacy rule works to create an equilibrium with health information and patients who need care and healing.
There are covered entities under the privacy rule. They include:
- Health care workers
- Health plans
- Healthcare clearinghouses
- Business associates
HIPAA security rules mean those falling under the privacy rule must do several things. They must protect health information against anticipating security threats. They must protect against impermissible disclosures. They must also make sure all workers are following the rules and remaining HIPAA compliant.
Most importantly, and how pagers factor in, the entities covered under the privacy rule must ensure confidentiality and integrity of health information.
Security Expectations of HIPAA
There are several strands to HIPAA. Privacy rules cover patients' right to have their information protected. There is also a strand called the Security Rule. In Security Rule, your health information is mandated to have protection and privacy.
There are three technical parts of the HIPAA Security Rule. The three HIPAA security standards are as follows.
Administration security is the security and responsibility of individuals. Physical security must protect electronic systems, equipment and the data they transmit. Technical security requires authentication and encryption so the access to the data is controlled.
All three of these forms of security can be impacted by the use of pagers.
Potential Problems With Pagers
There are few problems medical pagers faced with the implementation of HIPAA laws. Health care workers using pagers must make sure they are sending information in a manner that doesn't break HIPAA Privacy Rules.
Pagers not on a secure network face the risk of a breach in the information. Hackers could access the information through unsecured lines of communication being used by a pager. Not only could sensitive health information be accessed but also private health insurance and financial information be hacked too.
The other component is how health care workers handle the information that comes through on their pager. They have to be certain people don't see it or they don't repeat it. They need to be careful about how they take in the information or record information coming from their pager.
Personal Cell Phones Create Another Issue
As technology has changed so has what medical professionals are using to communicate. Many already carry personal cell phones. Because they already carry these, they have switched to getting information through that device.
While cell phone networks might provide some device security, there can be breaches too. They also face the same issues as a pager. If you have patient information coming to your personal cell phone, you need to be certain the information you get is safe and not accessible by others.
So, while some have opted for cell phone use, the truth is the same potential issues exist with cell phones as they do with pagers. Probably the biggest issue is being sure that the user understands the many facets and implications of the HIPAA laws.
Use Secure Medical Pagers to Avoid HIPAA Breach
There are HIPAA compliant pager systems that can be used to make sure healthcare providers are HIPAA compliant.
They can actually offer reduced costs for health care facilities using them. They also help to increase productivity and communication while still taking advantage of modern technology.
Obviously, a pager system will need a secure network to operate from.
Medical professionals using medical pagers on a secure system will be able to abide by HIPAA standards may be in more ways than they would if each were using their own private cell phone devices.
Secure messaging systems allow the medical community to use modern technology in an efficient manner and still be HIPAA compliant.
Medical Pagers and HIPAA
Medical pagers can be an effective method of communication for the medical community to communicate. It becomes necessary to set up secure networks. It's absolutely necessary that health care workers and facilities using pagers be sure that no unencrypted identifying details of a patient be sent.
HIPAA compliance is necessary and could be a huge liability if a medical community was found not in compliance. Medical pagers in a secure network can save costs and protect patient rights. They can also offer an effective method of communication if used properly.
Contact us for more information about pager information and services.