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TigerText Investment To Tighten Up Messaging Security

As text messaging among healthcare providers increases, TigerText secures $8.2 million to improve security.

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TigerText Inc., a provider of security software for text messaging used by physicians on their mobile devices, recently announced that it received $8.2 million in venture capital investments, bringing the company's total backing to more than $10 million.

While the investment reflects the growing momentum on the part of venture capital investors to subsidize money into burgeoning health IT companies, it also signals an expected rise in the use of text messaging among healthcare providers and underscores the need for security as digitized patient information is increasingly accessed and exchanged via text messages.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company received the investment from Easton Capital and New Science Ventures, and it will use the money to accelerate development of the TigerText Pro for Business messaging platform. The technology provides a Software as a Service (SAAS)-based messaging model that allows doctor-to-doctor, nurse-to-doctor, and hospital-to-doctor communications as care teams coordinate patient care.

Furthermore, as physicians, nurses, and other hospital employees bring their mobile devices to work, the TigerText platform gives health organizations greater control over messages that are encrypted throughout the transmission process and at rest. For added security, clinicians can also use the product's self-deleting messages (both on sender and receiver handsets).

[For more background on e-prescribing tools, see 6 E-Prescribing Vendors To Watch.]

"All messages and content in the application have a lifespan on the device, so after a set period of time (the clients control the lifespan of messages in their network, but typically lifespan is set from one to five days), the content is pulled from the device," Jeffrey Evans, TigerText's cofounder, said in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare. "If a device is lost or stolen, the account passwords are changed and the content can be remotely wiped from the device."

According to John Friedman, managing partner of Easton Capital, as more patient data moves from paper-based systems to electronic health records, the need for greater security around text messaging in healthcare will grow, and TigerText's software is poised to address the growing security requirements that come with transmitting patient data using text messaging.

"That is the investment attraction. As more information is moving digitally, the need for a secure messaging system for Healthcare is paramount," Friedman told InformationWeek Healthcare. "It is a very exciting, fast-paced, high-growth area. Healthcare communication has seen very little progress from the era of phones and pagers. The next 10 years will change the way the entire industry communicates."

According to officials at TigerText, more than 20 healthcare organizations are using the TigerText private mobile messaging network. The software works on Apple, Android, and BlackBerry mobile platforms and on computers. The tool also allows for communication from a web-based console to a mobile device.

Companies offering secure text messaging will benefit from the increasing use of mobile devices, as well as from programs that expand text messaging in healthcare, such as Text4Baby, a free mobile information service that uses text messages to inform pregnant women and new moms on ways to improve their health, or the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) Beacon Community Program txt4health, which delivers personalized text messages to help people understand their risk for Type 2 diabetes. Programs like these help drive the use of text messaging in healthcare as well as the corresponding need to secure these messages.

"Secure texting has the potential to greatly improve physician communications," Irene Berlinsky, IDC's senior research analyst covering Multiplay Services, said in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare. "Companies that provide easy-to-use, secure texting solutions will be well positioned to take advantage of doctors' move to texting. However, the technology must be absolutely rock-solid to keep the industry's trust."

Healthcare providers must collect all sorts of performance data to meet emerging standards. The new Pay For Performance issue of InformationWeek Healthcare delves into the huge task ahead. Also in this issue: Why personal health records have flopped. (Free registration required.)

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