Most doctors have fully embraced smartphones and other mobile devices, however they are usually more often used for quick reference and personal communication than for practical applications within the hospital. Even just simple email-like communication is rarely routinely used due to security concerns and regulations. In the United States, HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, mandates how sensitive health information is organized, stored, reviewed and distributed. HipaaCat is a new app for Android and iOS that enables secure, encrypted HIPAA complaint communication of text messages and images through mobile devices.
Three versions exist: Chief, Resident and Nurse. The Chief app is for the head of a team and he functions as the administrator of the group. The resident is granted access by the chief, after which he can view and send messages and images. One resident can be a member of multiple teams or different teams over time. The nurse has very limited functionality and is basically only allowed to send information to the team. Messages and images are sent in a similar way to email, and can be sent to a single person or a complete team. Push notifications warn the user when new messages have arrived.
Security and HIPAA compliance is ensured by encryption of all communication between team members. Strong passwords are enforced and need to be entered at least once a day. A HIPAA compliant server is used on the backend of the service. Messages and images older than two weeks are deleted from phone and server. Lost and stolen devices are removed from the service when reported.
There is certainly a lot of potential for an app such as this, especially in specialties such as plastic surgery or dermatology, where an image may tell a lot more than just words, but also for regular and quick communication within teams when email just is not secure enough to include the patient details. The chief and resident apps are available for $4.99, while nurses can download their app for free.