EHRA Survey shows: Hospitals should be cautious on data protection in instant messaging

The EHRA (European Heart Rhythm Association) has recently released the findings of a survey conducted with 281 participants from 33 countries. The results show how relevant GDPR-compliant messaging services like those provided by the app Siilo are for healthcare communications. Behind WhatsApp and SMS, Siilo is the most commonly used messaging tool among respondents.

Clinical messaging

Instant messaging has found its way into all areas of the working world over the course of digitalisation. Practical medicine is no exception, as the EHRA study shows. This form of communication comes second to face-to-face conversation, seeing more frequent use than telephone calls, emails, or video calls. A full 90.3% of cardiologists surveyed receive clinical information via instant message.

By using messaging services, colleagues from different specialties can be consulted in a short period of time,” says Holger Eggebrecht, a cardiologist at Bethanien Hospital in Frankfurt am Main. The physician sees further reasons for its increasing use in everyday clinical practice in its speed and uncomplicated application: This leads to faster and more targeted treatment of patients.”

Participants in the survey use WhatsApp at 79.4%, followed by SMS at 21.5%, and GDPR-compliant messenger Siilo at 14.5%. 36% of survey participants stated that they use a messaging app at least once a week to exchange clinical data, while 22.4% do so at least once a day, and 17.5% more than once per day. The file most frequently sent via instant messaging is the ECG at 88.6%.

Respondents most frequently share medical data with colleagues in the same department (79.4%), cardiologists from other institutions (63.6%), and colleagues from other specialties at the same institution (42.5%). Slightly more than half of respondents (54.4%) also use instant messaging to consult with patients.

Sparse knowledge of regulations

Clinicians can no longer do without an instant messenger for real-time communication of patient data. It is a great facilitator, especially for cross-institutional discussions of complex patients among an interdisciplinary care team,” Sassan Sangsari, Medical Director at Siilo, notes. However, with commercial apps, patients can’t be sure that their sensitive medical data won’t fall into the wrong hands. It is therefore paramount that medical professionals opt for a secure service that complies with the high regulatory standards of the healthcare sector.”

29.3% of respondents admit they are unaware of EU data protection regulations when sharing clinical data. Nearly half of the clinical data is sent (43%) or received (44%) is not anonymised. 46.7% of respondents indicate there are no regulations in place at their institution regarding the sharing clinical data via instant messaging.

Siilo offers a GDPR-compliant messenger service that allows healthcare professionals of all specialties to share clinical data and results instantly with colleagues and teams. Users can also access a Siilo-wide user network to get in touch with registered medical professionals without exchanging their contact details. Siilo was developed specifically for the medical field and is available for individuals to download free of charge from their app stores.

Start securely coordinating patient care and discussing challenging cases on Siilo today.