SMS and Text Messaging in Health Care

SMS and Text Messaging in Health Care

With the ubiquity of text messaging in today's world. Communication from health professionals is no exception, but is perhaps more tricky than one might think. Because of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, there are specific requirements for how medical professionals communicate with clients in order to protect their medical information. Can this be reconciled with the benefits of SMS that lead so many to prefer it?

HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is perhaps best known for its Privacy Rule, which lays out a set of national standards that protect the privacy of personal health information, and affords patients rights over their own personal health information. One of the corollaries of the Rule is that communications between health professionals and their patients be encrypted and viewable only by the patient, so that private information remains private and only accessible to authorized parties.

Text messaging is widely trusted as a fairly reliable, secure means of communicating--and for many purposes, it is. It is used for many important conversations and functions without a hitch, even including making transactions, a major means of exchanging money in Kenya. However, it is not technically a secure, guaranteed private mode of communication, raising concerns for HIPAA.

Understanding how texts are sent is important to understanding the technical problems with SMS. SMS messages are sent by cell phone.

NotePage, Inc.
PO Box 296
Hanover, MA 02339