It happens every day and it’s the ultimate caregiving paradox: should caregivers limit the quality of care they offer by using inadequate tools? Or, should they give the best care possible, but violate federal privacy regulations, while putting your community at risk?
Yikes! Obviously, the correct answer is that neither should be practiced. And so often communities may end up doing both! This is even worse.
Despite the rapid advance of technology, long-term care communities often find themselves using outdated technology such as pager-based nurse call systems. When a patient presses the call button, caregivers are provided with simple, minimal information about the client or the nature of the call, sometimes receiving little more than the room number on the pager display. A standard system doesn’t even allow the two-way communication that would allow caregivers to talk to the client, and to prioritize the call. Many systems don’t specify which caregiver should take the call, or who has responded. This leads to an inefficient duplication of efforts where multiple caregivers may respond to the same alert or worse yet, nobody responds at all.
A recent study from the College of Nursing and Health at the University of Cincinnati identified the biggest problems caregivers had with nurse call systems as: the inability to locate the nurse, the inability to prioritize and confirm calls, and the inability to speak directly to patients and staff. These frustrating problems lead to longer response times, and prevent caregivers from giving premium care.
But caregivers want to provide better care and they have invented creative work-arounds such as using personal unsecured smart devices to communicate with each other regarding patient care. This obvious HIPAA security risk is a problem plaguing administrators and IT staff across the country.
HIPAA applies to all devices that receive, transmit, or store protected health information. The law doesn’t distinguish between work devices, and people’s personal phones and devices. It applies to all devices used by caregivers. Furthermore, today’s cell phones are virtually hand-held computers, which makes violating HIPAA so easy and scary. Caregivers who text or email patient information on their own phones or devices can be in violation, because the information is often transmitted using unsecured mobile networks. This poses more than a few security risks:
- The transmissions themselves can be intercepted.
- The information is stored on the phone in an unsecured manner.
- Photos stored and/or shared from the phone can be a potential privacy problem.
- Stolen or lost phones are another possible violation.
- Cloud backup services for their phones can cause still more potential problems.
- Having phones around can lead to the urge to be on social media, causing even more potential risks and problems.
So. What now?
Don’t worry. We got you!
RCare Mobile was designed so your caregivers can still have all of the fast communication and secure messaging capabilities, avoid duplication and ensure accountability with the “I got it” feature, while sharing more resident information about the situation so the caregiver knows what to expect and what to bring to a call.
Caregivers can put the personal phones away and use our brand new LIFE Phone powered by RCare Mobile. This new secure, smart device is locked down to provide secure 2-way communication. It has a sophisticated display screen that provides information about the call, not just the room number. Caregivers will see the resident’s name, history, and the nature of the call. Because it’s a phone, it lets the caregiver place calls to ask questions, determine any supplies or equipment needed, and let the resident know who is coming to help, and when. The “I got it” feature makes sure that every call gets answered, and lets everyone know who got the call.
Better yet is what the RCare Mobile phone doesn’t do. It doesn’t violate HIPAA. PHI is transmitted, received, and stored securely. It doesn’t cost a lot. And it sure doesn’t do Facebook.
What are you waiting for? The choice is clear.