How the Paubox Email API Can Help Fight COVID-19
by Chloe Bowen Chief of Staff
At our recent virtual healthcare cybersecurity conference, Paubox SECURE @ Home, Hoala Greevy, Paubox’s founder and CEO, and Nick Wong, software developer at Paubox, discussed how to use the Paubox Email API to combat COVID-19.
“These are two different strategies used to fight COVID, but both can use Paubox’s seamless and secure email API to save lives,” explained Wong.
Contact tracing and COVID-19
The CDC considers contact tracing a key strategy for preventing further spread of the coronavirus. The goal is to identify people who don’t know they’re infected and encourage them to self-quarantine before they unwittingly infect others.
With Americans receiving an average of 2,000 robocalls per second, healthcare organizations face strong headwinds around secure patient outreach. This poses a problem for contact tracing efforts when people don’t answer the phone if they don’t recognize the number.
However, there are alternatives to phone calls. Developers can use our HIPAA compliant Paubox Email API to send HIPAA compliant emails to people who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and also to send patients their test results.
“A significant benefit of using email is that the message recipient doesn’t have to download a specific contact tracing app in order to get the message; it simply arrives in the inbox, no password or portal required,” Wong said.
Contact tracing is a multi-faceted system that relies on speed and efficiency in order to be effective. In fact, the Lancet has reported that contact tracing is only effective if it is completed in less than three days.
By automating what can be automated, such as email notifications and transmitting test results between systems with the Paubox Email API, “we can allow contact tracers to prioritize what’s most efficient, what’s most effective, and save lives,” explained Wong.
Asymptomatic surveillance testing
The objective of asymptomatic surveillance testing is to monitor COVID-19 transmission, investigate and understand disease severity, and keep people safe by controlling asymptomatic community spread.
At Wong’s university, UC Berkeley, “Whether you’re a student in the dorms, or an employee working regularly on campus, everyone here is mandated to participate when it comes to keeping their campus community safe,” Wong said.
Wong discussed testing at colleges during a recent installment of our HIPAA Critical podcast. The Paubox Email API allows school administrators to return test results in a scalable way without any friction. Students don’t have to create an account to read their results because the email is delivered automatically in a HIPAA compliant manner directly to the inbox.
“It’s valuable for the administrator, and it’s beneficial for someone that doesn’t have time to do all those extra steps. They can get their email right off the bat,” noted Wong.
The problem with portals
The problem with many forms of electronic healthcare communication is that they too often rely on portals. Adding unnecessary steps to read messages decreases the open rate.
With a portal-based system, you “must go through the process of creating and verifying an account just to read a simple message. And often users have a very, very frustrating mobile experience in doing so,” Wong explained. “So as a result, users who may be asymptomatic take longer to read their messages. And in a pandemic, where time is of the essence, these extra steps can become a public health threat.”
How the Paubox can help
Contact tracing and asymptomatic surveillance testing are most effective when utilizing an efficient, seamless method of communication that can scale while protecting privacy, such as the Paubox Email API.
Our lightweight, HITRUST CSF certified solution integrates with any modern technical stack with SDK support in seven different programming languages. It is optimized for email delivery by allowing users to enable DKIM authentication protocols. We have detailed developer documentation available, including a quick start guide.
In addition, Paubox signs a business associate agreement (BAA) with all customers.
“One of the main value adds we’re creating here is basically no portals,” Wong said. “We want to increase engagement rates, and decrease the time for individuals to access their messages, ultimately creating frictionless communication.”
A number of our customers are already using the Paubox Email API to communicate with patients about COVID-19, such as ZiphyCare whose lifesaving app sends emails containing PHI to patients, or Radix Health which sends email alerts prior to appointments, asking patients to reschedule if they have any COVID-19 symptoms.
There are also many other uses beyond COVID-19 for the Paubox Email API as well. For example, you can automatically send appointment or prescription reminders at scale, share receipts or billing reminders, and much more. “The possibilities are really endless,” Wong said.
To watch the full recording of Wong’s presentation, including a demo showing how to implement the Paubox Email API, visit Paubox’s YouTube channel.