Is Text Messaging HIPAA Compliant?
In general text messaging is not HIPAA compliant, but text messaging can still be used in the health care system and medical facilities provided certain policies are in place and specific technologies are adopted. HIPAA does not explicitly prohibit communicating patient health information using text messaging, safeguards must be in place to safeguard the information and confidenitiality of the patient health information while it is "in transit".
Traditional SMS or text messaging, the technology used to send a text message from one phone to another phone, is not HIPAA compliant. Regular SMS or Text Messages are not encrypted and there are no safeguards to prevent the message from being sent to a wrong number or retrieved, intercepted by someone other than the intended recipient. Consequently traditional text messaging can and frequently is still used in a medical facilities. Many hospitals or health providers still use and implement text messaging by removing any identifying patient information. Physicians can receive generic text notifications when lab results are back, or house keeping can receive text alert that a room is in need of cleaning after a patient's departure.
Another option is to use a text messaging solution that is HIPAA compliant. In order to be HIPAA compliant the solution you will need to make sure that every step of the message transport and storage is secure. There are a few different ways to do that. NotePage, Inc. works with a variety of third party messaging platforms like TigerText, Spok, QliqSOFT or similar providers. The third party messaging platforms provide a secure app that can be loaded on devices and provides the messaging interface for both two-way communication and a text platform in a secure environemnt. In these situations the previously mentioned providers have a secure communication host that PageGate can use to send messages text messages that are HIPAA compliant.
The benefits to HIPAA compliant text messaging cannot be ignored. Being able to transmit Patient Health Information to physicians remotely has significant advantages and can significantly improve and accelerate the quality of patient care. As technology progresses, both health care providers and technology support companies must work together to ensure that new technology that is deployed does not compromise the quality of health care and sensitivity to a patient's private health information.
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