ClickCare Café

Why VA Employees Chose The Worst Possible Healthcare Collaboration Tool

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 @ 07:00 AM



To do healthcare collaboration, you certainly don't need any fancy tools. All you need to do is talk with the medical providers around you. You ask, you answer, and you find the ways to incorporate each person's valuable perspectives.

Many medical providers find that iClickCare simply makes that process a little easier. You don't have to be available at the same time, you don't play phone tag, you don't need fancy hardware.

However, because medical collaboration is so simple, sometimes people make the mistake of thinking that any type of technology is fine to use to do it. Whether it's text messages, emails, or Facebook, we've pretty much heard all the "Why don't we just use…." ideas out there.

So when we heard a recent new story about how 50,000 VA employees were reprimanded recently for their use of the social networking site Yammer, we weren't shocked, but we were disappointed.

Sites like Yammer, tools like email or texts, are all great -- but they aren't great in the healthcare field or for healthcare collaboration. Of course, we certainly don't begrduge any individual employee their use of Yammer. Surely, most (if not all) were using it in ways that make sense -- and any attempt at connect in today's medical world may well be a good thing.

There are a few specific reasons that you shouldn't be using emails, texts, or social networks for healthcare collaboration, all of which came up in the context of the Yammer debacle at the VA: 

  1. They're not secure.
    Emails, texts, and social networks don't have the rigorous level of HIPAA security that iClickCare has, for instance. When you're doing healthcare collaboration, you have to assume that everything you send is under a security microscope. And unless you're confident that Personal Health Information is being protected at the highest levels, you shouldn't use these platforms to send anything about any patient or case, ever.

  2. Personal and medical issues are mixed.
    With Yammer, messages about kids' birthday party were mixed with messages about patients' issues. That means that  providers ran the risk of missing key messages about a patient's care, or making the innocent mistake of sharing something with the wrong person. Perhaps even more importantly, you're using the same phone and camera roll to record comments, photos, or videos about a case, which means that insecure PHI is being left on multiple devices, multiplying the risk. (Always confirm that a healthcare collaboration platform takes precautions to separate personal and medical data, like using its own camera roll.)

  3. They can waste a lot of resources.
    It's really fun to scroll through text messages and facebook, because you never know what you're going to come across. That same dynamic can make these tools especially inefficient for the medical context. In the Yammer case, administrators were concerned that providers were wasitng hospital time chatting about personal issues. We're less worried about that, since people don't usually have the time to waste, but we are worried when it becomes inefficient to sort through unordered, mixed messages. Look for tools that ping you about consults but let you respond on your own time. 


Hybrid Store-and-Forward Telemedicine is one option that can help you avoid the mistakes that the VA made. We've put together an at-a-glance guide so you can decide whether it could help your team with medical collaboration: 
ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward

Tags: medical collaboration, HIPAA, Telemedicine and HIPAA, HIPAA secure images, healthcare collaboration

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