Given its ease of use, many healthcare professionals may be wondering if HIPAA compliant messaging is possible by text.
The HIPAA Security Rule stipulates that healthcare organizations put appropriate safeguards in place to ensure that sensitive patient information is kept confidential and safe both at rest and in transit.
In practice, this means encryption – and unfortunately, most standard SMS text messaging apps that come built into an off-the-shelf mobile device do not encrypt text messages.
Additionally, to ensure HIPAA compliance, healthcare organizations must ensure there are proper access controls enabled on all electronic devices in use.
This, again, causes a problem if you want to use an everyday text messaging app to communicate with your patients. These apps do not have access controls, such as two-factor authentication.
Without these controls and without encryption, anyone can pick up a mobile device and read the messages on it – meaning secure messaging is not possible.
Finally, under HIPAA, electronic devices must be implemented with audit controls to record when protected health information (PHI) is accessed, shared, modified, or deleted.
Do standard text messaging apps come with audit controls?
No, they don’t – and combined with their lack of encryption and access controls, it is simply untenable for any healthcare organization, professional, or care team to rely on an everyday texting app as a messaging platform to communicate and share PHI with each other and with their patients.
Thankfully, there is a solution.
HIPAA Compliant Texting for Medical Professionals
Today, purpose-built HIPAA compliant texting apps are the go-to solution for healthcare professionals who want to send secure text messages between colleagues and patients and remain HIPAA compliant.
The best solutions available today work in much the same way as the messaging apps you’re likely already familiar with – such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Indeed, not only can HIPAA compliant messaging apps be used for texting patients, you can also use them to send voice and video messages too.
Importantly, HIPAA compliant messaging apps operate within a secure, encrypted network, which means any PHI data that’s shared is adequately protected both at rest and in transit. In addition, they contain access controls and audit controls – meaning they fully satisfy the requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule.
HIPAA Compliant Texting for Therapists and Physicians
HIPAA compliant texting has fantastic benefits for patients, therapists and physicians alike.
Text messaging is the ultimate in convenience – it’s familiar, quick, easy, direct and everybody knows how to do it.
The latest figures from Statista reveal that roughly 2 trillion text messages are sent each year in the US – no wonder there’s a growing interest in HIPAA compliant messaging.
(Image source: statista.com)
With a HIPAA compliant messaging solution in place, patients can quickly and safely message their therapists and physicians for medical advice, opinions, or updates – secure in the knowledge that their information is protected.
Video appointments can be arranged, enabling remote care and test results can be shared securely via voice, video, or text.
Therapists and physicians can also automate notifications to be sent to patients regarding appointment reminders.
With HIPAA compliant messaging, communication is mobile, improving efficiency and providing clients with a better patient experience – crucial for maintaining loyalty.
HIPAA Compliant Patient Communication with Central Data Storage
So, which texting apps are there that are HIPAA compliant?
More than just a software provider, at CDS we work hand-in-hand with our clients to ensure they are operating in full compliance with HIPAA.
We help you establish a HIPAA text messaging policy for texting patients in a manner that’s fully compliant with the HIPAA Security Rule.
This includes helping you draw up a HIPAA text messaging consent form to issue to patients in order to obtain their consent to be contacted via HIPAA compliant SMS communications. We also help you set up unique user IDs for all staff members who will be using the platform. This is crucial to hold authorized users accountable for their activities while logged into a system that contains PHI, as well as for auditing requirements.
Secure authentication protocols are enabled, meaning all users are properly authenticated when using the solution. Finally, our beyond-military-grade encryption ensures all communications are protected from prying eyes both at rest and in transit.
With Central Data Storage’s encrypted file sharing mobile apps, you can safely use your iPhone or other smartphone device for communicating with patients, texting appointment reminders and sharing information with colleagues – all while maintaining HIPAA compliance.
Start your HIPAA compliant messaging free trial today. For more information about our Encrypted Sharing and Cloud Backup and Recovery solutions, call 1-888-907-1227 or email email@example.com to learn more.