Since COVID-19 began affecting our communities in March, nearly 75 million tests for the viral infection have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For the public health laboratories and clinics that are processing results, that’s a lot of tests to communicate to the patients following testing.
And, timely result delivery is especially important amidst the current public health crisis, as people who test positive for the virus should self-isolate as soon as possible in order to minimize the risk of spreading it to those around them. We don’t have days or weeks to wait for results.
That’s why healthcare organizations are relying on integrations with patient communication software and electronic health systems, like Epic Systems, to make it easier for patients to access COVID-19 test results and other labs. And, using HIPAA-compliant text messaging, healthcare professionals can automatically notify patients of test results, allowing them to quickly take action, whether positive or negative.
Faster, secure access to test results.
Epic Systems’ partnership with CVS Health’s drive-thru testing sites spans more than 30 states where patients who are tested for COVID-19 can view their tests online via Epic Systems’ MyChart patient portal. Epic’s lead customer service executive for CVS Health, Wyatt Rose, explains, “The goal in offering convenient, online access to test results is to contribute to people’s peace of mind as they go back to work, take part in community events, and reconnect with friends and family.”
And with integrations to automated communication software, such as Providertech’s HIPAA-compliant texting platform, patients can receive text messages that notify them when their online test results are available. This ensures patients access their lab results as soon as possible without compromising the security of private health information (PHI) and other personal identifying information.
HIPAA requires that all sensitive information that is stored and transmitted across any mobile device, such as a smartphone, needs to be encrypted. So, when text messages are encrypted, third parties who are not permitted access cannot use or read protected health information. This prevents unauthorized users from accessing PHI or other secure information on public Wi-Fi or open cell phone networks, or in the event a device is stolen or lost.
That’s why HIPAA-compliant messaging software requires patients to authenticate their identity upon receiving a text message. It’s another way to prevent identity theft. Once they’ve confirmed their identity, they can easily access their COVID-19 test results (and many other laboratory tests) via the link included in the text message. This can shorten the time it takes for your practice to deliver results from days to hours, depending on the test, thereby reducing any patient anxiety.
Less staff time spent on the phone.
Your staff is already swamped trying to deliver compassionate care to the patients who are already in your office or hospital beds. There’s not enough time to call each patient on the phone with their test results for COVID-19 or any other type of diagnostic test. Using technology to automate communication about laboratory results can reduce your outbound calls, freeing up your staff to focus on the patients in front of them who need care.
By leveraging automated patient communication software, your practice can easily scale delivery of COVID-19 test results without using up limited resources. As an Epic App Market (formerly Epic App Orchard) company, our secure messaging platform seamlessly integrates with Epic Systems’ health records software, which means you can establish protocols and workflows that automatically send text messages based on new updates to a patient’s medical records. Messaging templates make it easy for you to launch and implement test results delivery via text, you can also customize your messages based on the needs of your practice, providing not only test results but also navigation for patients regarding important next steps. In addition, the integration helps automate steps in your workflow by marking off when test results have been delivered and opened by patients.
By integrating into patient health records, healthcare professionals can automatically notify patients of test results via text, allowing them to quickly view their results and take action, whether positive or negative. This compliments portals by promoting portal use for patients who have active portal accounts but also provides additional access to the majority of patients who are not leveraging portals or do not have a need for continuous portal use.
Patients can quickly take action.
Some medical professionals may be hesitant to transition to electronic delivery of lab data for fear that it minimizes the personal touch that is an important aspect of compassionate care. However, when used correctly, automated technology can actually improve your ability to deliver a personalized interaction with your patients at the moment they most need you.
For example, if you’re delivering lab outcomes via text, you can include customized messages about next steps your patients can take to ensure they get the care they need based on the outcomes of their tests. Patients who test positive for COVID-19 may be directed to a webpage where they can schedule a virtual visit with a doctor to learn more, or for those without symptoms, it may suffice to direct them to a landing page with information about quarantining to minimize the spread. For those who receive negative tests, you can still prompt them to visit a page that educates them on how to minimize their risk of becoming infected.
HIPAA compliant texting truly is a tool to help you deliver compassionate care at scale.
“We believe leveraging technology can help improve both the experience and outcomes for patients everywhere,” said Chris Grasso, Associate Vice President for Informatics and Data Services for Fenway Health. “Delivering results via text not only provides peace of mind to those experiencing symptoms, it also ensures patients receive timely treatment and the resources they need to stay healthy while limiting exposure to others within the community.”