Ultimate Guide to HIPAA-Compliant texting and SMS

As the digital age takes over, technological advancement and innovations take over the entire sphere, and not even the healthcare sector is left out.

As a healthcare professional, you need to ensure that there is adequate provision of Updox secure texting to handle the dissemination of sensitive data and protected health information (PHI) that are provided by patients at all costs.

Compliance with the HIPAA rules and regulations helps you stay in touch with patients, earn their trust and deliver a first-class experience to them.

Most patients prefer safe texting via a HIPAA-compliant platform because they understand the need to be careful with protected health information. Doctors and health practitioners need to also understand this before sending texts to clients. As they could stumble upon a violated and HIPAA non-compliant platform.

Since healthcare workers often transfer information and share PHI data with one another, there’s a need for them to subscribe to the most effective way to carry out their business.

SMS and texting are vulnerable to a lot of breaches. Handlers of PHI-related information must subscribe to a safe platform that balances the convenience they need and grants security of this data as well. Propounded in 1996, the Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) as recognized by health insurance ensures that the confidentiality of patient data is best adhered to.

As a result, every business associate who makes use of texting and SMS as a means of communication needs to learn how to send and receive OHI through HIPAA-compliant means.

Let’s have a look at the laws that guide this HIPAA act, the consequences of defaulting them, and the benefits of staying HIPAA compliant.

Is texting and SMS HIPAA compliant?

No. Texting and SMS are not basically considered as being HIPAA-compliant. However, if the right safeguards are observed such as the technical, physical, and administrative safeguards, then PHI can be easily accessible through authorized means and by recognized personnel while the confidentiality and privacy of the patients are observed.

If a texting service provider must be considered HIPAA compliant, it means that the PHI messages and data must be encrypted through the process of receiving and sending them.

Without adequate observation of these rules and compliance, civil legal action could be initiated by the patient and a criminal charge is possible too.

What are HIPAA-compliant SMS and texting?

HIPAA-compliant is a safe texting that doctors and patients use to receive and send protected health information (PHI) through protected SMS texts.

HIPAA-compliant messaging isn’t about simply sending messages through an iPhone or a smartphone too. There are dedicated service providers and applications that give you the chance to send texts to your patients through a safe means.

Even smartphone apps are not HIPAA compliant or safe enough to send encrypted PHI information. The question to ask is whether the service providers observe strict auditing and security rules that are compliant with the demands of HIPAA.

What does HIPAA say about texting and SMS?

Most users and hospitals usually ask this question: what does HIPAA say about texting and SMS?

A benefit and straight response to that question are that the content of the text determines whether it is PHI or not. HIPAA doesn’t especially insist on every type of message to be rather the ones that contain and deliver sensitive data of patients that could reveal vulnerable health information about the patient.

HIPAA Security Rule insists on having technical. Physical and administrative safeguards are in place to ensure that communications are done without possible concern for a data breach.

Texting and SMS within the business associate members are considered HIPAA compliant if it observes these rules and regulations:

  • Patients and colleagues that send and receive messages through a service provider are aware that these text messages are not safe enough. Also, you need to have their consent to make use of the delivered files through SMS
  • The only time that SMS and texting are done with clients is when there is no personal health-sensitive information to be shared or received.
  • Strict implementation of encryption, safeguard and security backup are in place and strictly observes to ensure the security of PHI through these texting service providers.
  • There is a constant set of risk management carried out on the platform to discover and curtail the possible vulnerable data in the environment
  • The appliance and device for SMS lock automatically if left unused for a certain period.
  • Encrypted messages are reported to the HIPAA security personness when unencrypted text is mistakenly sent to a recipient.
  • PHI information automatically deletes itself once the purpose is fulfilled.
  • Stolen devices and missing ones are automatically blocked to prevent access.

HIPAA-compliant regulations for texting

There are no strict rules and means of operation for HIPAA-compliant SMS in the health sector. The only requirement is that ePHI must be safe and safeguards must be implemented to stay clear of legal suits and loss of sensitive data.

A few HIPAA rules to be observed in SMS and texting:

Assignment of Role Acess

Everyone that uses a mobile device must have access rights that include the password for their device. In some regard, the computer users must have a generated unique user ID that is basically sued for login and data views. When left unused for a while, the device should automatically lock itself. Finally, SMS data must be encrypted before sending or receiving

Implement Audit & Reporting Controls

Auditing controls and reporting should be implemented to manage certain actions like PHI access and transmission of data. This documentation and access mitigate the risk of severing the integrity of PHI.

Message encryption

The HIPAA recognizes providers that are covered as business associates by right. So, anyone who uses any of these service providers or software apps must make sure that the service they use is HIPAA compliant. Also, they need to know if the server stores encoded data and restrict unauthorized bodies from gaining access.

Technical Safeguards

Backup control is necessary to have in place for the recovery of original data if they’re lost or deleted by mistake.

Passwords or Acess Pins

Before contacting patients or colleagues through the organization’s property, healthcare workers must enter a safe password or pin. There are other methods of security such as AI voice recognition, facial recognition, biometrics, fingerprints, and the rest.

What happens when one breaks HIPAA SMS regulations?

HIPAA violations go from anywhere between $100 to $50,000 per day. This depends on how severe the infraction is.

These situations could occur when the healthcare establishment blatantly ignores or fails to adhere to the regulations of the HIPAA, thus causing harm to the parties involved.

If a healthcare practitioner or worker fails to observe any of the HIPAA regulations and conduct, there could be severe consequences for their action:

  • The practice may handle the matter internally
  • There are severe criminal charges, fines, and imprisonment for defaulters.
  • Sanctions could arise from the governing healthcare authorities.
  • There could be automatic termination of staff appointment

On the other hand, Multiple violations and civil penalties are charged at $100 per violation or $25,000.These penalties are charged to people who know about the HIPAA compliance rule and choose to break them at will.

Advantages of using HIPAA-compliant SMS and texting

There are several benefits of using HIPAA-compliant SMS and texting, Aside from the mandatory rule of the HIPAA, the service providers usually make available convenient features that create an ultra-modern experience for their users.

Thus, the doctors and their patients can experience first-class communication in real-time. When these rules are in place, the healthcare establishment has a higher chance of convincing patients to trust their delivery and services.

Secured Data

HIPAA compliance rules ensure that all communication with the clients is safe. You’re also assured that the data dissemination isn’t against protocols and is securely transmitted and stored in the right order

There’ll be no penalties or violation fees

HIPAA compliance amidst its advantages offers you the opportunity to operate freely without violation or penalty fees on your desk. These fees are usually hefty and could take a toll on you.

Observation of accurate practice management system

If there is a secure information flow, one is assured that the patient’s data are available in one piece and accessible through a single platform.

Operation efficiency

Automation as always and setting reminders in place through the aid of a HIPAA-compliant service provider ensures more operational efficiency. This way workers are able to work less and satisfy the demands of the patents.

Engaging with Patients

Messaging through the two-way feature ensures that there is a timely response from the patients. Most patients also prefer texts over a phone call since it’s time efficient.

24/7 connection and availability

Safe texting gives the chance for round-the-clock availability to your patients. This makes them feel safe knowing that they have unrestricted access t their healthcare managers.

More promising health results

HIPAA-compliant texting and SMS give patients an opportunity to stay updated with the latest information concerning their health and wellness. Thus, they’re able to achieve their health goals.