Telehealth Nursing Receives Boost from Messaging Solutions

Telehealth Nursing Receives Boost from Messaging Solutions

History of Telephone Triage and Telemedicine

Telehealth nursing has grown in popularity with the growing reliability of both video chat and instant internet chat options, despite having existed as a telephone-based service since 1989 formally. In the past 30 years, phone lines where nurses could help diagnose simple conditions and give patients advice for non-life-threatening issues were practical: rather than going to the trouble and expense of going to the doctor’s office or hospital, nurses saved themselves and the patients time by confirming whether or not the symptoms merited a visit. HIPAA-compliant messaging solutions are becoming more popular among generations that spend more time typing conversations via phone or computer than physically talking on the phone.

With the addition of new technology options, substantial benefits are being realized and popularity is growing. In a world where people are generally short on time and where doctors offices are often booked months in advance, a telehealth live chat is becoming the most convenient and valuable way to handle common illnesses and minor injuries.

Benefits of Modern Telehealth Nursing

The new video and live chat features for telehealth nursing increase some of the options available for remote triage. The obvious benefits of telemedicine begin with some simple truths:

  • Diagnosis from home means that an ill person need not venture out, exert themselves, and possibly spread a contagious condition.
  • Diagnosis is possible without the expense of getting to a medical facility and can be queued up from home rather than in a waiting room.
  • Nurses can be in any location, allowing them to work from home or take calls when they are between other tasks at a work facility.
  • Patients whose conditions require rest and perhaps pain relief but no other intervention are calmed quicker and reassured that they are correctly managing their injury or illness.

The new technology adds new features that increase the range of conditions in which a nurse line is valuable, while giving them tools and connections that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

  • Video chat gives a greater range of information, from readouts on heart monitors to examination of injuries, than a simple phone call can offer.
  • Live chat can retain a record of a conversation that would not be possible with a typical phone call.
  • Internet systems allow nurses to mark whether they are available or unavailable to take a call and can route new video and live chats to the next available nurse, cutting down on wait times and on necessary operator intervention.
  • Internet connections can streamline the process of sending prescriptions from the same hub that offers a telemedicine line, and often these systems also allow for an email of the nurse’s recommendations to be sent to either a caregiver or the patient themselves.

Common Use Cases for Chat for Telemedicine

Nurse triage lines have been very commonly used in relation to on-the-job injuries: if a non-serious injury seems like it merits some advice, a telehealth call may be all that is necessary to get advice on how to elevate, ice, or bandage an injury and move on with the work that must be done. It saves valuable hours for both workers and employers, while ensuring that workers who have been injured do not further injure themselves by returning to work too early. Telemedicine is offered as a part of a medical insurance package at times in order to prevent costly visits and long waits at hospitals and doctor’s offices. A telehealth nurse can give instructions for bed rest and can recommend over-the-counter medications for those who are ill with a contagious but not life-threatening disease, minimizing the time they spend outside spreading the illness.

For bedridden or otherwise remote clients who need evaluation of their vital signs, it is possible to have someone on-site gather information like glucose levels and blood pressure and have a remote nurse make decisions about how the patient is faring and whether a change needs to be made in their daily regimen. On the other hand, crisis situations where getting the patient to a medical facility can also benefit from telemedicine. Using a video call, a nurse can help to diagnose the severity of an issue and can help with dispatching emergency help while also keeping onlookers calm and helping to walk them through emergency care for a person who is inaccessible at the moment, such as a hiker in a remote location. The widespread availability of robust mobile data plans has increased the amount of area in which physically remote locations can still receive instant access to health advice.

HIPAA Compliance in Live Chat

When HIPAA (U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) went into effect, it became essential that all Protected Health Information be shared only with need-to-know health providers in a very specific way on computers that ensured data security. Many solutions offer live chat and video chat features but are not HIPAA compliant. For this reason, telehealth providers must seek out HIPAA-compliant messaging solutions and other technology that meets their stringent security requirements. If patients are transmitting sensitive PHI (protected health information) and health insurance over the internet, they must also be assured of the security of that information.

Incorporating a New Telehealth Tool

Though many resources exist, not all of them work for all telehealth providers. When you are looking at incorporating a new technology, it is important for it to be compliant but also personalized to the needs of your services. Personalized assessments are a must before choosing a new live chat option to provide valuable information and resources for your clients and for the nurses who will be working a telehealth chat feature. Messaging solutions are increasingly diverse in their implementation, and avoiding penalties for non-compliance with HIPAA make it well worth the effort to understand the needs for your system. Download our Guide to HIPAA-Compliant Chat to learn more about choosing a secure, compliant messaging solution.

HIPAA Series: Why HIPAA Compliance Matters to Your Patients

HIPAA Series: Why HIPAA Compliance Matters to Your Patients

Protecting patient information is of the utmost importance for healthcare organizations

If you are partially or fully responsible for managing a business in the healthcare industry, you are no doubt aware of the importance of protecting your patients’ information. HIPAA laws have serious implications when broken, but it is not just the legal aspect you should be concerned with.

Patients care about their information being safeguarded even when they don’t fully understand everything involved with HIPAA legislation. Here are 2 reasons why HIPAA compliance matters to your patients:

1. Patients want their medical history and problems to stay confidential.

Although patients may have close friends and/or family that they share other information with, they generally don’t want them knowing their full medical history.

Of course, an individual’s privacy is always important. However, patients may care even more about their records staying confidential when their medical history involves one or more of the following:

  • Emotional or mental illnesses
  • A history of abuse (whether physical, sexual, emotional, etc)
  • Pregnancy, miscarriage, etc
  • STI’s or other infections and/or communicable diseases that may impact relationships with others
  • A history of drug/substance abuse or other addictions
  • Diagnosis or symptoms of a terminal illness that hasn’t yet been disclosed to loved ones, professional colleagues, etc

A patient’s medical records being made known to others could result in damaged relationships, embarrassment to the patient, and/or in extreme cases even jeopardize someone’s safety (such as with instances where an individual experienced abuse).

2. Patients need to trust that any PHI (Protected Health Information) they provide will not be compromised.

While the medical history portion of a patient’s file needs to stay secure, so does any additional PHI they provide. This includes such things as a person’s date of birth, social security number, home and mailing address, phone number, marital status, payment information, and even employment information. If a staff member were to let it slip that a specific person is a patient, that could in itself be a violation of HIPAA legislation if the individual this is told to hasn’t been listed on the patient’s information release form.

When it comes to conversations between staff and other individuals, (including other patients that receive medical services,) patients should never have to worry that their name, information, or records will be mentioned.

Additionally, a patient should have peace of mind that any physical or electronic records are secure and will be kept that way. Both patients and medical providers have legitimate reasons to be concerned about this.

Data breach is more common than you may think

For instance, according to the website for the US Department of Health and Human Services- Office for Civil Rights, there are currently over 300 medical companies in the US alone being investigated for breaches reported in the last 2 years.

What may surprise you is that many of these breaches under investigation were not the result of information being intentionally released. For several of these, the type of breach is listed for reasons such as theft, hacking, and/or IT incidents, some of which compromised thousands of patients’ data.

It is possible in some of these cases that the individual(s) responsible for stealing information were after patients’ personal (not medical) information and they could even intend to scam individuals using data they accessed.

Unfortunately, it would be reasonable to conclude that in addition to known violations, there are likely many more healthcare companies who have experienced breaches that have not been reported.

Regardless of what information is accessed by unauthorized individuals or the exact reason why, patients definitely don’t want to worry about their information being ‘out there.’

3 Tips for Protecting Your Patients’ PHI

We discussed a couple of reasons why HIPAA matters to patients. Now you want to do your part to keep their protected health information safe. Here are 3 things you can do.

1.) Make sure any electronic records have maximum security.

This may involve not only encryption/passwords, but also things such as not leaving computers or devices that have access to patient info unattended or in an insecure location. You may also want to find a good IT company to work with and ensure your website/system is under a secure firewall to protect against hacks.

2.) Make sure patients are aware of their rights and that they understand HIPAA-related forms they sign.

Some healthcare facilities now have the ability to use electronic signatures for forms patients need to sign. If your company is one of them, you want to make sure that staff is adequately explaining to individuals what they are signing, instead of just saying, “alright, I need 3 signatures on the pad.”

Patients should never have to ask what they just signed. Additionally, they should be offered a physical copy of any HIPAA-related forms they sign electronically, especially the first time they are asked to sign it. (Of course, when using physical forms, you likewise want to make sure patients clearly comprehend what they are filling out.)

It’s important to have a legal HIPAA release form on file for patients to list physicians, family members, or other individuals they permit their information to be released to. Make sure they understand what this release form entails in terms of what information can be released, how it can be released, and to whom it can be released.

For example, you want patients to understand that by listing their doctors, you are able to send these physicians relevant records, or that by listing their spouse, you can speak with them on the phone about your patient’s test results, etc. If possible, it’s good to specify on the form itself how information can be released.

If patients don’t fully understand the role of a HIPAA release form they fill out, they may inadvertently give permission for you to release their information to someone they actually wouldn’t want to access it.

3.) Make sure staff is fully educated on HIPAA policies, and provide ongoing training and reminders.

Employees won’t follow HIPAA guidelines if they don’t thoroughly understand them and take them seriously. In order to properly train your staff, you will first need to make sure you completely understand how HIPAA laws affect your unique healthcare practice. It is also paramount to understand how HIPAA laws affect the types of technology solutions your organization uses, such as chat software. A personalized assessment with HIPAA-compliant chat specialists will help you better evaluate your HIPAA-compliance needs when it comes to messaging solutions.

By providing additional training to your employees from time to time, you can keep them updated on any changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule that affect your company as well as remind employees of proper procedures. Companies also have the option to enroll employees in HIPAA training programs facilitated by third-party training services.

You’ll also want to make sure staff is doing their part to keep physical and electronic records secure and that they promote a work environment that protects patient information.

By staying informed, by educating your staff and patients, and by taking proper precautions, you can succeed in keeping your medical business HIPAA-compliant.

Release Notes February 15th: Zendesk ticket creation on behalf of agent, File uploads for Salesforce integration, map who ended the chat, Ban button fix

Hello SnapEngagers,

there’s a lot going on these days here in SnapEngage, here’s some of what our dev team has been working on the last weeks:

Updates:

  • The Zendesk integration will from now on create tickets on behalf of the agent who had the chat instead of the administrator, if the agent mapping is enabled.
  • The Salesforce integration is now receiving files uploaded through SnapEngage directly attached to the ticket.
  • We have added an option to map how the chat ended in the Integrations -> Custom Mappings section. (the values can be: agent, visitor, timed_out,  no_agents_found).
  • HIPAA Update: We have deactivated the ‘Channels’ tab to connect Facebook or SMS on HIPAA enabled accounts to guarantee compliance with this framework.

Resolved Issues:

  • Fixed an issue causing the ban button not to work anymore. Here the ban cookie was not called anymore while the \banip command to ban the IP address was still functional.
  • Fixed an issue with Proactive chats causing certain integration mappings not to work.
  • Fixed an issue with adding drop-down selectors to the Design Studio

10 Data Security Tips for Chat Agents

10 Data Security Tips for Chat Agents

Security is critical for live chat agents

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and provides general recommendations. Please consult with your organization’s Information Security Officer to ensure that your chat program meets organization-specific security protocols.

Live chat support has officially swept the business world as an essential tool for B2B and B2C segments. More than just a passing trend, companies keen on increasing conversion rates, driving KPIs, and reducing cost-per-interaction have incorporated chat into their overarching customer engagement strategies.

Live chat is one of the most convenient, easy to use customer service channels and many online consumers now prefer using chat instead of email or phone. However, no matter how great live chat service is, like any online customer support channel, certain security procedures must be followed by every chat agent to keep customers, companies, and team members safe.

1) Keep Multi-Chats Separate

The most efficient way to offer live chat support is to have multiple chat windows open at once, dealing with two to five customers at a time depending on your multi-tasking ability and the difficulty of their problems. However, when you’re communicating with several people concurrently, it’s vital that you keep their information separate as well. Never type or copy-paste a customer’s data or a revealingly detailed response into the wrong chat box.

2) Ensure that Your Chat Software is Secure

The next step to live chat security is to know exactly how secure your chat channels are. The ideal chat channel is encrypted from both ends, is secured against intrusion and vulnerabilities, and follows other in-depth security best practices. It’s of the utmost importance to ensure that your chat solution adheres to standard security protocols by using double-layer SSL encryption (communications between web client and server are encrypted in transit and at rest), network security controls, secure authentication, reputable hosting services, and more.

3) Never Send Private Information Over an Insecure Channel

Personal/private information could put your company or client at risk if you’re not careful about how you transmit it. Ensure your organization chooses a solution that offers features such as HIPAA compliance, PCI compliance, secure data transfer, and more.

Private Information Includes

  • Payment card and account numbers
  • Payment card expiration date and security code
  • Passwords and security question answers
  • Customer home address and phone numbers
  • Security Codes (that don’t expire)
  • Social security numbers
  • Personal information like health records

4) Report Abuse Immediately

Almost no customer is perfect but, as every customer service agent knows, some situations prove to be quite difficult. If a customer yells at you, threatens you, or makes inappropriate comments during your chat, report the abuse to your supervisor immediately and make sure the chat log saves even if you don’t normally save chat logs. This is for your own protection more than cyber-security but is still very important. Reporting abuse quickly and keeping evidence can protect you from future abuse and potential lawsuits.

5) Watch Out for Scammers

Another form of chat abuse involves scammers. This might be a hacker pretending to be a preexisting client, hoping to get some unauthorized information for fraud or con-artistry later or it could be a real client trying to scam the company out of a refund, free items, or discounts. Always keep an eye out for suspicious behavior and facts that don’t line up. Once again, report immediately.

6) Never Open an Un-Scanned File

Some chat programs will allow files to be sent by the customer or customers might try to send you emails with attachments containing private information. While this can be completely legitimate, opening unscanned files from unconfirmed sources is the fastest way to infect a company with malware known to the hacking community. Hackers love chat support, so don’t get phished or scammed. Scan all documents before opening or use a safe virtual document sharing platform.

7) Don’t Give Out Personal Contact Information

No matter how much you’ve enjoyed chatting with a customer (or how sorry you are for making a mistake), never ever give out your personal contact information. With permission from your supervisor, you might share your work email to keep in touch on a long-term solution for a customer, but your private email, address, full name, and so on should never be shared.

8) If You Keep Chat Logs, Encrypt Them

Chat logs are incredibly useful both for customer service research and improvement and for maintaining a continuous relationship with existing customers. However, your chat logs can also contain sensitive information and identifying data that could be used against either you or the customers involved. If you save chat logs and have any control over the storage method, make sure they’re encrypted so that if your company is malware-breached, they won’t be able to read anything.

9) Be Very Careful About Screen Sharing

Screen sharing is by far one of the most effective ways to figure out what’s going on with a customer’s system or to show a visually-inclined customer how to perform a sequence of desktop troubleshooting steps. However, if sharing your screen, make sure the customer doesn’t see the content of your other chats, sensitive customer information on your CRM, or anything else that might reveal information that doesn’t relate to them.

10) Always Lock the Screen When You Leave Your Workstation

On a final note, your access to the live chat platform and any pending conversations with customers are private and your responsibility to protect. If you need to get up from your workstation either to go on break or ask a coworker across the office for assistance, always lock your screen or log out completely. This way, no unauthorized coworkers (or visitors in the office) can access your interface, read private information, or hold conversations with customers in your name.

Live chat may seem super casual and is an incredibly convenient way to connect customers with company support, but there are very real security concerns involved. Protect your customer’s data from hackers, your company network from malware, and your own job security by following these ten chat security guidelines.