One of the simplest ways to convey crucial information is through a text message. They’re short, sharp, to the point and, most importantly, can be delivered directly to the recipient. And they’re versatile. HIPAA compliant texting can be used to provide updates on absolutely anything. So, for a medical practice, they’re perfect for engaging with patients.
HelloRache understands the importance of high quality engagement and wants to help you enhance your customer service levels. We’re also aware of the importance of being HIPAA compliant. It may feel as though it’s a modern headache for medical professionals, but it’s essential for providing a world class service. And texting critical data to your patients can deliver this high level of service; more importantly, it can be done in a manner which is HIPAA compliant.
Let’s take a look at HIPAA compliant texting and how it can be utilized in your practice.
What is the HIPAA?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was created in 1996 with the following objectives:
- To protect workers and their families health insurance coverage in the event of changing or losing their jobs
- To create and maintain national standards for the handling and sharing of confidential information that is in an electronic form
These objectives set out to increase the efficiency of data handling while also safeguarding the security of patients. And this is why being HIPAA compliant is so important. We live in an age of regular data breaches, so it’s vital that your patients can trust you with their data.
What is HIPAA Compliant Texting?
As we established earlier on, texting is a highly efficient method of transmitting data direct to your patients. But you should always be aware that data transmission needs to be secure. HIPAA compliant texting is a process which aims to maximize security and eliminate the risk of unauthorized data access. Naturally, there are a number of healthcare industry standards which need to be met in order to be considered HIPAA compliant:
- Technical Safeguards: It’s important that patient health information (PHI) is handled by technology that is safe. In order to achieve this you need to ensure that any technology in use is secure and has the capacity to encrypt any data transmissions.
- Physical Safeguards: There will always be physical access to PHI, so it’s essential that this is monitored and protected. The most proactive way to enforce these physical safeguards is by securing workstations, developing access policies and establishing contingency procedures for any data breaches.
- Administrative Safeguards: These are a series of best practices which focus on developing and managing the protection of electronic PHI. The main objective here is to manage the conduct and manner of authorized staff that are accessing the PHI.
If you’re looking to achieve HIPAA compliant texting then you need to make sure that all your processes and procedures adhere to these three safeguards. It’s the only way of guaranteeing a level of security that allows your patients to feel that their data is truly secure when being texted.
How Can You Utilize HIPAA Texting in Your Practice?
HIPAA compliant texting is clearly a procedure which needs to be conducted correctly. But it’s also one that can provide your patients with unparalleled levels of excellence. The versatility of texting provides you with an opportunity to deliver any form of written communication. And for a medical practice, where there’s a phenomenal need to keep patients updated, this makes it a fantastic tool to utilize. The main areas where it can be best employed are:
- Appointment Reminders: Missed appointments cost the US health service around $150 billion dollars a year. Sometimes there are valid reasons for missing appointments. But sometimes patients simply forget. Texting, however, provides a solution. Patients can receive handy reminders direct to their phone that minimize the risk of an appointment being missed.
- Enhanced Communication: Methods of communication have changed radically since the start of the century. The ability to text, particularly in young people, has been adopted as the preferred method of communication and is steadily being adopted by businesses. By providing an option for back and forth communication between practice and patient you’re creating an atmosphere which is less intimidating and convenient. And this is exactly what a medical practice should be aiming for.
- Co-Ordination of Care: It’s important that when multiple parties are involved in a patient’s care they can share information. HIPAA compliant texting provides a platform for this to be achievable. Healthcare providers can take advantage of the convenience behind texting to communicate quickly and easily with each other. Not only does this provide a written record that can be stored, but it also enhances the security of any shared data.
These three areas may appear to be simple, but they’re effective. It doesn’t take a complex set of practices to be tackled in order to deliver a positive outcome. However, to provide this enhanced service you need to know how to text in a way that satisfies industry standards.
How Do You Deliver HIPAA Compliant Texting?
As a forward looking medical practice you’re no doubt intrigued by the potential of texting, but how do you go about implementing it? Texting, as with all administrative tasks, takes time and effort. These are both currencies which are in short supply for any organization, so the simplest way to get started is by working with a virtual assistant such as a medical receptionist. These specially trained assistants work remotely, but are packed full of benefits that an in-house member of staff is unable to provide.
The next step is to equip yourself with software that can guarantee HIPAA compliant texting. Some of the best apps that are available include:
- OhMD: A highly versatile app, OhMD is compatible with both iOS and Android devices while also being available to use on the web. This makes it a perfect texting app, particularly for virtual assistants who will each be using different hardware, and ensures that information can always be transmitted. Images and files (such as insurance documents) can be effortlessly transmitted through OhMD, so there’s no risk of crucial data being missed. Most importantly, OhMD is fully compliant with HIPAA standards and the app employs high level encryption to protect any data being transmitted.
- Tiger Text: Fast and easy communication is at the heart of a successful practice and Tiger Text is an app which has this built into its core. Compatible with iOS, Android and the most popular web browsers, Tiger Text can help your practice engage with its patients. PHI is securely protected thanks to end-to-end message encryption, so the risk of any data breach is significantly reduced. And, to enhance data security even further, Tiger Text can auto delete any correspondence after a set time span. Fully certified by HITRUST, Tiger Text provides HIPAA compliant texting.
- PMD: Discussions between healthcare professionals need to be discreet and remain discreet. The perfect solution for this can be found within PMD, a specialist texting app aimed at medical staff. Files can be transferred in real time – an important function for transmitting large files such as photos – and contacts can easily be invited to your network. The main selling point, of course, is that PMD allows texts to be encrypted. This not only protects the PHI, but also helps your practice to avoid any needless fines.
HelloRache wants you to take your medical practice to the next level. Implementing HIPAA compliant texting into your organization is one way to help you achieve this. Good patient care should be the heartbeat of your practice and, by introducing text messaging, you will be able to strengthen this heartbeat thanks to the convenience and security on offer. And with the help of our Healthcare Virtual Assistants this could become a reality sooner rather than later.