One of the easiest ways to share information is through a text message. They’re short, to the point, and, most importantly, can be delivered directly to the recipient.
Text messages are versatile. HIPAA-compliant texting can be used to provide updates on anything from appointment reminders to clinic news. For a busy medical practice, SMS text messaging can be the perfect way to engage with patients.
HelloRache understands the importance of high-quality engagement and wants to help you enhance your customer service. We’re also aware of the importance of being HIPAA compliant.
Ticking the boxes can feel like a modern headache for medical professionals, but it’s essential if you want to provide excellent patient care.
If you want to streamline your processes, consider help from a HelloRache healthcare virtual assistant. Our experienced team has been through HIPAA training and can help with all of your patient communication needs. Get in touch today.
Now, let’s take a look at HIPAA-compliant texting and how it can be used in your practice.
What is 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. This is why being HIPAA compliant is so important.
We live in a digital age, and patient communication has changed. While healthcare organizations used to rely on phone calls, today they also keep in touch with patients via SMS texting.
Healthcare providers have a responsibility to keep sensitive health data private.
HIPAA enforces this obligation. Medical professionals who disclose patient details without their consent could face penalties. This law applies to all forms of communication, including private messaging.
What is HIPAA-compliant texting?
Texting is a highly efficient method of transmitting data directly to your patient’s mobile devices.
However, you should be aware that data transmission needs to be secure. HIPAA-compliant texting is a process that aims to maximize security and reduce the risk of unauthorized access.
Before choosing a secure messaging solution, it's important to do your research to make sure it's a HIPAA-compliant texting app.
There is a range of healthcare industry standards that need to be met, including:
It’s important that patient health information (PHI) is handled using secure technology. There should be an additional layer of security to prevent unauthorized access.
To achieve this, you need to make sure that any technology you choose is secure and can encrypt data transmissions.
There'll 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.
These are a series of best practices that focus on developing and managing the protection of electronic PHI.
The main objective is to manage the conduct and manner of the authorized staff accessing the PHI. All team members should be aware of their obligations and understand how to treat confidential information.
If you want to achieve HIPAA-compliant texting, you must ensure that all your processes and procedures adhere to these three safeguards. When you implement these safeguards, your patients will get the high level of security they expect from a health provider.
How do HIPAA-compliant texting apps work?
Care providers commonly use HIPAA-compliant texting solutions. These communication tools use secure private networks to transfer data between authorized users.
The software usually comes with an app where medical professionals and patients can log in with a username and password to communicate securely. Healthcare providers can also discuss their patients using these mobile applications.
Encrypted video chat, image sharing, and written messages can all be shared via secure text messaging platforms.
Sometimes, HIPAA-compliant text messages can be sent in different ways. If you don't want your patients to have to download a specific app, they can receive alerts via their mobile phones.
For example, if you use TigerConnect, your patients will receive an SMS alert. The message will contain an encrypted link that can be used to access the private conversation and message attachments. This method is simple and can improve the patient experience.
Because sensitive patient data is stored securely, it can be deleted and modified as required. For example, if the patient has lost access to their device and is worried about their security, the trail of messages can be deleted.
These HIPAA-compliant chat security measures give healthcare professionals more control over what is being shared. This gives peace of mind to doctors and their patients.
How can you utilize HIPAA texting in your practice?
HIPAA-compliant texting is something that needs to be used correctly. When done right, it can create a positive experience for your patients and staff.
The versatility of texting gives you opportunities to communicate with colleagues and patients.
The main areas where HIPAA-compliant texting can be used include:
Missed appointments cost the healthcare provider time and money.
There can be valid reasons for missing appointments. However, some patients simply forget, but texting can solve this problem.
Patients can receive handy reminders directly to their cell phones. These simple reminders can minimize the risk of an appointment being missed.
Methods of communication have changed radically since the start of the century. The preference to text, particularly in young people, has become the norm.
By providing an option for back-and-forth communication between practitioners and patients, people will feel empowered to take charge of their own health. This is exactly what a medical practice should be aiming for.
Coordination of Care
When multiple parties are involved in a patient’s care, it’s important that they can share information. HIPAA-compliant texting provides a platform for this to happen.
Healthcare providers can take advantage of texting to communicate quickly and easily with each other. Not only does this give them a written record that can be stored, but it also enhances the security of any shared data.
These three areas may sound simple, but they’re effective. It doesn’t take a complex set of practices to deliver a positive outcome.
To provide this 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-thinking healthcare professional, the thought of texting your patients may be intriguing. The question is, how do you go about implementing it?
Texting, as with all administrative tasks, takes time and effort. Get started by hiring a virtual assistant or receptionist.
These specially trained assistants work remotely but come with benefits that an in-house staff member cannot provide.
The next step is to equip yourself with software that can guarantee HIPAA-compliant texting.
Let's take a look at the top compliant text messaging apps.
A highly versatile app, OhMD is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. It can also be accessed via a web browser. It’s the perfect texting app, particularly for virtual assistants who are using different devices. No matter where they log in from, the information can always be shared and 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 a HIPAA-compliant texting app that employs high-level encryption to protect any data being transmitted.
Fast and easy communication is at the heart of a successful practice, and TigerConnect is an app that has this built into its core. Compatible with iOS, Android, and the most popular web browsers, TigerConnect 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. To enhance data security even further, TigerConnect can auto-delete any correspondence after a set time span.
Fully certified by HITRUST, TigerConnect provides HIPAA-compliant text messaging. Over 750,000 people use this app.
Discussions between healthcare professionals need to be discreet and remain private. The perfect solution for this can be found within PMD, a secure messaging platform aimed at medical staff.
Files can be transferred in real-time, which is an important function for transmitting large files such as photos and x-rays. 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 avoid any needless fines.
Qliqsoft offers secure messages between doctors and nurses. These healthcare professionals can also communicate directly with their patients.
It comes with a time-saving, HIPAA-compliant live chat option. It's a secure texting solution where patients can get the answers they need without waiting for the clinic to respond.
Besides encrypted text messages, care providers get a suite of other benefits. For example, one feature for users is video chat. Patients can connect for their virtual appointments and communicate using text with the same mobile application. More than 165 million messages are sent every month.
The Spok app for messaging is another secure, encrypted option. It meets all of the strict HIPAA regulations and comes with an easy-to-use interface.
You can keep track of messages by storing them in one place. You can even set up automated message removal.
It's designed for communication between clinicians and patients. For a positive user experience, features include patient alerts for priority messages, consultations, and notifications about test results. You can improve clinical workflows, reduce administrative tasks, and make more time for your patients.
What features should you look for?
Texting with patients can be a convenient way for healthcare organizations to communicate. A HIPAA-compliant messaging app can save you time and money.
You'll say goodbye to long phone calls, and both patients and other members of your care team can respond at a time that suits them.
But what features should you look for in a secure text messaging app? Firstly, all data should be secured with encryption and user authentication protocols. The way sensitive information is stored and managed needs to meet strict guidelines, and you should have a range of administrative controls.
Secure texting options should be available for all message types. For example, you should be able to send standard messages such as a doctor appointment reminder. Plus, there should be options for urgent messages that need to be marked as high priority. Time-sensitive information needs to be delivered in real-time.
Some secure messaging solutions give you the option to broadcast messages to multiple people at once. Voice messages and video sharing are other key features to consider.
The app should be available on a range of preferred devices, including iOS and Android. It should also be compatible with desktop users.
You may be interested in a range of payment plans to suit your unique needs. Your favorite app may even have custom plans that you can build on, depending on the size of your practice.
Your compliant communication app should give you access to audit logs and give all users a positive chat experience.
HIPAA-compliant texting for medical professionals
A HIPAA-compliant messaging platform can change the way you run your health practice. You can communicate with your patients via SMS text messaging while maintaining a high level of privacy.
There is a range of compliant texting applications. The list includes OhMD, TigerConnect, PMD, Qliqsoft, and Spok. These app companies offer convenient communication and secure sharing of documents between healthcare entities and patients. Sending encrypted personal messages has never been easier.
Hello Rache 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'll be able to strengthen this heartbeat thanks to the convenience and security on offer.
With the help of our healthcare virtual assistants, this could become a reality sooner rather than later.