2Hippo Enters The Secure Communication Market
While secure messaging products are not scarce, this hasn’t deterred a company with perhaps the most unusual name in the Australian software industry.
Developed, publicly tested and refined over the last two years, 2Hippo believes its “Intelligent Messaging” software extends beyond the current market offerings, and is now ready for widespread roll out.
Getting started with 2Hippo is relatively straightforward and well documented by a narrated training video available online.
2Hippo has fairly typical minimum requirements that most practices should be able to meet:
- Windows XP Professional with service pack 2 and the latest Windows updates applied.
- An active Internet connection (broadband is obviously better, although dialup modems will work).
- Internet Explorer 5.5 or later.
Due to the product’s reliance on Microsoft technology, Mac and Linux users are not currently accommodated. Rob King, Managing Director of 2Hippo explained that the framework is in place to expand his offering to other platforms, but will be guided by user demand.
The software is delivered via the Internet which is no surprise given the nature of the product. To perform an installation, users need to:
- Register their details to establish an account.
- Log in to the members area using these account details (which are verified to ensure the applicant is a member of the medical fraternity).
- Click the “Download” button to commence the installation.
Two key software components are installed:
- The 2Hippo client software.
- A “virtual printer” driver.
The 2Hippo website is also an important part of the solution, and is used for various administration tasks including maintaining demographic details and managing the sophisticated privileges system.
While outwardly the 2Hippo software looks very much like an email client, the differences becomes apparent when sending messages.
- Print using the 2Hippo virtual printer.
- Use 2Hippo to send a PIT or HL7 generated by your clinical package.
- 2Hippo Application Programming Interface (API) integration with your clinical package.
Sending via Printing
To send a document using this method, the user “prints” to the 2Hippo virtual printer, which in turn creates an electronic document (eDoc) and deposits it in the 2Hippo client software. Any program that facilitates printing can therefore be used to send documents with their formatting (including image content) preserved.
A window with the addressing details appears, allowing you to specify the recipient and send the message. Using 2Hippo “intelligent templates”, this addressing step can be simplified, as the required details can be extracted from the printed document.
Sending PIT or HL7
The second option allows for seamless integration with any program that can export correspondence to either PIT or HL7. As with most secure messaging software, 2Hippo “polls” a designated folder and transfers the files to the intended recipient when detected.
Advanced Practice Software Integration
2Hippo is providing access to its API to allow practice software developers to provide enhanced integration. By way of example, Rob King explained that “GPs could deliver referrals directly to a specialist appointment book, with an automated confirmation sent back to the GP for audit purposes when the patient presents”.
Incoming messages can be viewed in the 2Hippo client software, or exported automatically for subsequent import into your clinical package. Selection and export criteria can be specified, allowing the incoming messages to be processed intelligently. Messages can be placed in different “drop boxes” depending on various criteria including the document type or the sending party.
Unless you elect to archive messages out of the 2Hippo environment, they are retained on 2Hippo’s servers. This enables the messages to be accessed from any Internet connected computer with the 2Hippo software installed.
Each 2Hippo user is responsible for maintaining their details online, and changes are immediately updated across all users “subscribing” to the contact.
2Hippo’s integrated reporting uses a Wizard to define custom reports based on any eDoc field (e.g. sender, recipient, eDoc type, format and tracking status).
To maintain the security of the message during transmission, sophisticated encryption methods are used. 2Hippo uses 1024bit encryption and handles this seamlessly and without the user needing to manually distribute public keys.
In addition to these built in measures, users have the option to digitally sign their messages using their individual HESA certificate.
As a further security measure and to ensure reliability and performance, 2Hippo maintains private servers in a commercial grade data centre.
2Hippo has various pricing schemes designed to cater for Specialists and GPs. High and low volume options are available, and a retrospective price guarantee ensures that you will pay the minimal amount.
Free membership allows unlimited eDoc sending, and a full subscription allowing unlimited sending and receiving is available for $27 per month. A fully featured 30 day trial period is available at no charge. 2Hippo users are not bound by contracts, and the product is not hampered by advertising.
Training and Support
2Hippo offers support via phone, fax and a web based chat system. While Rob King anticipates the Divisions and practice software developers will embrace his company’s product, end user support will be primarily handled by 2Hippo staff.
An impressive series of training videos are available online, and cover all the key aspects of the program.
Challenges Facing Secure Messaging
As with clinical software generally, secure messaging products suffer from a lack of standards and compatibility between providers. Perhaps the thing that has hampered the uptake of secure messaging most, is the reliance on the recipient having the same program as which the message was sent. In addition to the plague of pathology, radiology and transcription downloaders that infect modern medical practices, it is conceivable that a practice may require several secure messaging programs to communicate with their colleagues.
2Hippo seeks to reduce this impediment by undertaking to fax messages to recipients without the required client software. An email notification is sent to the recipient to alert them to the faxed message.
Looking To The Future
2Hippo is currently finalising a service dubbed “Message Broker”. When released, users will be able to jettison their existing downloading clients, yet still receive messages sent from their colleagues with these programs.
In addition to the end user solution described in this article, 2Hippo has penned agreements to deliver data securely for other established businesses operating in the health sector. Of note is a collaboration that will see the underlying 2Hippo technology used to transport data for one of the leading transcription service operators.
2Hippo will face competition from many existing players in the market. Argus, Medical Objects, Health Link, Promedicus and several others are already competing in this space.
Despite these challenges, the fractured market, modern technology framework and intention to “play nice” with competing products may give 2Hippo an edge.
Posted in Australian eHealth