With personal privacy a constant worry, Imprivata has introduced a texting app for the iPhone and Android called Cortext to allow doctors to securely communicate with other providers about patients.
Imprivata is a health care IT company that offers access-management platforms featuring single-sign-on and fingerprint authentication.
Introduced on Oct. 9, Cortext will allow doctors to maintain compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Imprivata reported.
Concerns over HIPAA privacy regulations prompt many hospitals to discourage unsecure text messaging between doctors, according to Imprivata.
Encryption, authentication, archiving and audit reporting will allow doctors using the app to conform to the HIPAA laws, according to Imprivata.
Imprivata has enrolled 82 hospitals in the Cortext app, the company reported.
"The majority of hospitals we spoke to told us that standard, unsecured text messaging in the clinical environment was a major concern," Omar Hussain, Imprivata's president and CEO, said in a statement.
"Cortext is a great opportunity for hospitals to leverage a technology that care providers are already comfortable with to more efficiently communicate and collaborate with care teams and improve patient care," Hussain added. "It literally puts health care in the palm of their hands."
Imprivata's secure cloud architecture allows care providers to exchange texts and images in messages. These messages are not stored in a smartphone's gallery, however. Cortext encrypts messages at rest and over the wire, the company reported.
In addition, enterprise directory support allows hospitals to synchronize messages with their active directory and data archives. It also allows providers to add details for contacts in its administration console.
Doctors can use Cortext to request callbacks from other physicians in the hospital directory. The app allows physicians to send discharge info, test results, and prescription details and to seek second opinions.
Meanwhile, 42 percent of doctors are using their personal smartphones to send text messages to other colleagues, according to an October 2012 Spyglass Consulting Group report called "Secure Messaging Enhances Clinical Communications and Collaboration."
In addition, 95.4 percent of hospitals were concerned about complying with HIPAA laws while sending unsecured Short Message Service (SMS) communications, Imprivata found in its "2012 Text Messaging in Healthcare Survey."
"As a practicing ER doctor, I've experienced many instances where the bidirectional communication and convenience of text messaging would have resulted in a more efficient care and treatment plan," Sean Kelly, chief medical officer for Imprivata, said in a statement.
Text-messaging a patient's electrocardiogram (EKG) to a cardiologist enables doctors to get a catheterization laboratory ready for action quicker than traditional ways of communicating in a hospital, said Kelly. "This saves critical time for the patient and can result in a better recovery, and in some cases, even saves a life."
Cortext is free for 30 days for one user and 1GB of storage per user. Premium bundles range from $3 to $5 per user per month. For $3 per month, providers get enterprise support; for $4 per month, they receive archiving; and for $5 per month, they receive both features.
Text messages sent and received using Cortext are covered under a wireless carrier's data plans rather than a traditional SMS texting plan.
Imprivata plans to expand Cortext to the BlackBerry platform in early 2013.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that Imprivata Cortext allows for providers to text securely with other providers rather than with patients.