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Chatting with Your Team (Even HIPAA Approves)

Mohseni, Alex, MD

doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000547207.91094.b1
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Dr. Mohseniis an emergency physician in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, and has his own blog, http://CreativeHealthLabs.com. Follow him on Twitter @amohseni, and read his past EMN columns athttp://bit.ly/EMN-DocAPProvED.

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As health care complexity increases, it becomes even more imperative for ED directors to have a medium for secure communication with their teams. Whether for case review, near-miss analysis, protocol reminders, training, or positive feedback, they need a HIPAA-compliant communication mechanism that is easy, fun, and unobtrusive.

Some practices solve this problem via HIPAA-compliant encrypted email solutions. Email is messy and inefficient, however, and today's generation of ED clinicians expect more engaging solutions. Other industries have solved this problem via enterprise-wide chat solutions, such as Slack and Microsoft Teams. Chat allows for more fluid communication with a faster cadence and less bloat than email, so many enterprises have found great value in these solutions (leading to Slack's valuation of $7 billion at this writing).

When most enterprise chat solutions first came to the market, they did not offer HIPAA-compliance and business associate agreements, but Slack and Microsoft Teams now do. Slack has the advantage of being the industry leader in enterprise chat with many innovative extensions and bots. Microsoft Teams has, however, a clean and simple integration with other Microsoft products, like Office 365, and brand familiarity.

Perhaps the most impressive advantage of Microsoft Teams is its ability to integrate directly with electronic health records systems, such as Epic. Microsoft Teams can not only pull medical records into the conversation stream directly, it can even allow physician order entry from the Teams conversation to stream back into the EMR. Clearly, these platforms will spawn many future innovative solutions that have great value even in their current forms.

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