ARE YOUR TEXT MESSAGES HIPAA COMPLIANT?

If you have to ask yourself this question, they probably aren’t.

Why is this problematic? Because HIPAA can impose massive fines, the likes of which can take your house, drain your kids’ college funds, and put a serious dent in your retirement plans.

Instant messaging via texts or SMS, is a popular and handy method of communication. Although it is perfectly fine for talking to your family and friends, it can pose potential risks for the business of medicine because this kind of correspondence is not secure and can easily be intercepted by those who you may not even realize may have access to the information you are sending in this way. The same is true for FaceTime® and SKYPE®.

This is especially challenging when it comes to communicating directly with patients or with other healthcare providers directly about patients. Your data and medical records may be compromised. The truth is that human ways of communicating in cyberspace are way ahead of regulations and continue to fall behind. The traditional ways of making, confirming, changing appointments, asking questions, checking in pre and post procedure by phone is not only inefficient, it can be fraught with mistakes and frustration on both sides. As all businesses strive for automation, so too must medical and aesthetic practices look for ways to improve the ways in which they connect with patients.

We live on our mobile devices 24/7, so it is natural for us to warm up to the idea of hearing from our dermatologist, dentist, and gynecologist’s office via texting too, especially for routine communications such as appointment reminders and prescription renewals. This method of interacting gives patients increased flexibility to connect with their doctors in the way they feel most comfortable, which in turn can help to enhance the patient experience by taking some of the hurdles out of doctor-patient relations. It may also help to promote increased loyalty to the practice, and cut down on cancellations and no-shows.

But for messaging to be secure, it usually means that these communications must be encrypted before they ever get transferred from your device. Basically, encrypted messages can only be read by the intended recipient. Even if your message gets intercepted curing the exchange, it is still safe and protected from spying eyes.

So, what is a practitioner supposed to do? Download an app or subscribe to a platform that offers services to encrypt your data before you send it through normal unsafe channels. Search for ‘secure messaging solutions’ to find out more about the options currently available for IOS and Android devices. Also check out these highly rated secure services to determine if they are right for your practice:

  • Wickr.com
  • Qliqsoft.com
  • Imprivata.com
  • Healthitoutcomes.com

Got a question about your practice marketing program? Get in touch Anne@wendylewisco.com

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