Safe Texting in HealthCare: Do’s & Dont’s
- By BlueEHR Admin
- Nov 18 , 2015
Texting is the most popular feature of a smartphone and 97% of Americans sent texts to their friends and family because texting is easy, quick and an effective method to communicate. However, texting is considered as an unsafe method of communication for healthcare purposes. In the healthcare world there are many rules that govern this form of communication.
The privacy and security rule of HIPAA/HITECH covers communication of electronic protected health information (ePHI) that includes social media, email and text messages. For example, the nurses at a nursing facility sent patient information to the medical providers through a text message. Though there was no evidence that an unauthorized person viewed the messages, CMS chalked out a ten point remediation plan to train staff and appoint a HIPAA security officer and change the HIPAA policies and procedures of the nursing facility.
Immediate action was taken by CMS because texting creates a record, unlike a telephone call. In a telephone call, it is easier to know that you are communicating to the right person. While texting sensitive patient information is not at zero risk, because at least one third of people who have text their medical information to public surveys say that they have sent it to the wrong person by mistake. Further, HIPAA/HITECH privacy violation rules can charge fines up to $50,000. It is advisable to avoid the tendency to text patient information to a colleague for a quick patient consultation.
HIPAA Compliant Texting
Even though texting has many downsides, a secure mobile messaging compliant with HIPAA can be used with the following rules:
- Secure data centers – Offsite or onsite data centers must adhere to high levels of physical security and policies. This is to control and conduct continuous risk evaluation for data exchange through texts.
- Encryption – ePHI must be encrypted both in transit and at rest.
- Recipient authentication – Confirmation that text communication containing ePHI goes only to the intended recipient
- Audit controls – The ePHI message must be automatically recorded and it should be available for any type of audit such as sender, receiver, content, etc.
The volume of text messages indicates the preference for all to follow this method of communication. The number of texts sent by American in 2008 was 1 trillion and the number of text sent by Americans last year was 1.92 which is almost the double. Therefore texting cannot be abandoned fully, but the HIPAA rules mentioned above can make it safer to send and receive patient information through texting.
Appointment and Wellness Reminders using Text message
It may be a practice in your clinic to send reminder texts to patients for appointments. There are statistical evidence that text reminders reduces the rate of patient no-show. HIPAA rules does not regulate communications that are not a part of ePHI.
Text reminders help patients to follow medication, healthcare and recommended lifestyle. Researchers point out that text reminder help patients with chronic disease to manage diabetes. It helps African Americans to take their medication for time, especially those suffering from high blood pressure. Reminder texts help people to exercise and maintain their physical activity levels. In addition to the above advantages, more research is required to find out more best practices in texting patients.
Secure texting for the above services are now made available by Healthcare vendors through simple apps that allow medical professionals and physicians to use texting within a HIPAA approved platform. Government agencies usually do not use these apps, so it is important to make sure that these apps are HIPAA compliant. If you wish to avail texting service using a third party secure texting platform check for the three guidelines that offer security to PHI: integrity, confidentiality and availability. Nowadays, more than 80% of medical clinics and physicians use EHRS to communication with patients. Electronic health record systems allow communication with patients through text or email over a secure patient portal that meet the Meaningful Use requirement.
Whichever method of electronic communication is used, train your staff at the medical clinic to never transfer ePHI over a non-secure mode to save yourself from being penalized.
- Mental Health: The Need For A Routine During COVID-19Apr 26 , 2021
- Mental Health Care In A PandemicApr 16 , 2021
- Part II: Is Telemedicine Here to Stay?Dec 18 , 2020
- Part I: Is Telemedicine Here to Stay?Nov 30 , 2020
- Covid-19: Ignorance is Not BlissJul 29 , 2020
- Covid-19: Why You Should Be Wearing a MaskJul 13 , 2020
- Part 2: Getting Care During a PandemicJun 15 , 2020
- Part 1: Getting Care During a PandemicJun 04 , 2020
- Data Aggregation and Its Importance: A WHOOP ExperienceMar 09 , 2020
- How WHOOP Could be a Trailblazer in Treating Population HealthFeb 13 , 2020
- How the Internet Changed HealthcareOct 18 , 2019
- Patient Histories: The Key to Quality CareOct 01 , 2019
- 3A’s (Aggregate, Analyze and Act) of Healthcare ITSep 19 , 2019
- Telemedicine – Benefits and ChallengesSep 04 , 2019
- Health Data Exchange StandardsJul 31 , 2019
- Telehealth: Technology meets HealthcareApr 11 , 2019
- Integrated Care: The Future of Behavioral HealthMar 29 , 2019
- Troubles with Getting Mental Health Help and InsuranceMar 15 , 2019
- 7 Things to do to Protect Against Ransomware AttacksAug 08 , 2018
- Oh EHR, how can we love thee?Apr 20 , 2018
- What’s in Store for Practice Fusion UsersJan 31 , 2018
- What is precision medicine? And how can EHR help?Jan 05 , 2018
- What’s the SOAPware alternative?Dec 15 , 2017
- Artificial Intelligence, EHRs and the future of health technologyNov 02 , 2017
- ACA Executive order’s impact on EMR and eHealth technologyOct 25 , 2017
- EHRs and Mental Health: What Needs to Change?Sep 29 , 2017
- American Medical Association (And Others) Unhappy With EHR ProvidersSep 22 , 2017
- A Celebration of Citizenship DaySep 18 , 2017
- Amazon’s Stealthy Foray Into the World of EHRAug 18 , 2017
- Google, the Gender Gap and Personal ResponsibilityAug 10 , 2017
- Neal Patterson and the Mission of Health ITJul 21 , 2017
- The Myth About Motivating People To PerformJul 14 , 2017
- Fragmented health data and personalized medicine: What to do?Jul 07 , 2017
- Apple’s Venture Into the World of EHR SoftwareJun 23 , 2017
- What does the U.K. health record hack mean for eHealth security?Jun 15 , 2017
- Why Doctors need an All-rounder Healthcare Solution?Mar 19 , 2016
- Are we ready for data-driven healthcare?Mar 12 , 2016
- Using Medicare And Private Sector Claims Data for Patient care QualityFeb 26 , 2016
- The Doctor must “Evolve” with the TechnologyFeb 26 , 2016
- The 2015 Practice Profitability IndexFeb 25 , 2016
- ‘Mind Your Risks’ – The NIH health campaignFeb 22 , 2016
- Middle East and Arab Health 2016Feb 03 , 2016
- Medical Billing in 2016Jan 08 , 2016
- CMS publishes 2014 National Health ExpendituresJan 02 , 2016
- Results from the Practice Profitability Index 2015Dec 16 , 2015
- This National Diabetes Month, you have a role in diabetes education and supportNov 26 , 2015
- Safe Texting in HealthCare: Do’s & Dont’sNov 18 , 2015
- Is TeleMedicine the future of healthcare ?Nov 13 , 2015
- Evaluating specific KPIs can improve business performanceNov 09 , 2015
- 50 Years of Medicare: More than 55 million Americans covered by MedicareSep 23 , 2015
- How Much Does Healthcare Cost Matter To A Patient?Sep 18 , 2015
- How does Affordable Care Act Change Your Practice?Sep 11 , 2015
- A ‘Don’t Do’ List to avoid patient no-showsAug 21 , 2015
- Add more patients and grow your medical business in 5 easy stepsAug 05 , 2015
- Medicare Trust Fund is now protected by the Fraud Prevention SystemJul 16 , 2015
- ICD-10: A Short StoryMay 19 , 2015
- Patient portals and patient engagement: Is there a link?Apr 21 , 2015
- Meaningful Use Stage 3: First LookApr 07 , 2015
- 6 Ways Physicians can Free Patient RecordsMar 17 , 2015
- Is the EHR market saturated?Dec 04 , 2014
- 5 Benefits of healthcare information exchanges for small practicesApr 22 , 2014
- New Study shows EMR Adoption Increases Patient Confidence, Loyalty and SatisfactionApr 22 , 2014
- Cloud-Based EMR Vendors and Patient Data SecurityApr 22 , 2014