Can I Text My Patients and Stay HIPAA Compliant?

Are you a doctor or medical practitioner with patients or staff members who want to text you? Is your office staff having a hard time reaching your patients through voice phone calls?

If so, then you need to consider adding new forms of communication to your practice. Don't worry if you don't know what that means or how to implement that within the law. We've got you covered.

Keep reading to learn about new technology that can help grow your practice while remaining HIPAA compliant.

1. The Benefits of Texting Patients

2. The Perils of HIPAA Texting

3. Why You Need a Cloud Phone System to Stay HIPAA Compliant

4. Now You Can Communicate and Stay Safe

The Benefits of Texting Patients

Patients these days are concerned about coming into a doctor's office. And providers across the country are changing the way they provide care for their patients to accommodate. With that, telecommunications is growing exponentially.

Many people prefer to communicate via texting over waiting for phone calls and playing phone tag. There are several benefits to implementing text messaging into your communications offerings for your patients. Some of the top benefits include:

  • improve scheduling and decrease missed appointments
  • improve communication and education
  • better and faster communication of test results
  • improve payment collections
  • increase patient satisfaction and improve outreach for new patients

These are just some of the reasons that practitioners everywhere are including text messaging in their telecommunication practices. You too can benefit from this helpful new way to communicate with your patients.

However, just as with everything good there can be downfalls. You need to be aware of your HIPAA compliance so you don't accidentally break the law.

The Perils of HIPAA Texting

The law is very clear that every hospital, clinic, and practitioners must keep their patient information confidential and private. Ever since the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was passed in 1996, healthcare practitioners have been tasked with ensuring their patients' private information stays private.

So while you know that texting is a convenient method of communication, you still need to be careful. But you worry about texting your patients in a safe manner.

And you're right to be worried. HIPAA violations can cost anywhere between $100 and one million dollars including jail time for egregious breaches. Don't risk an audit, even if you're found to be compliant the last thing you want to risk is losing your patient's trust.

So, be proactive, and be sure that the system you set up is HIPAA compliant. Additionally, once you have the right system, be sure to educate your staff accordingly. HIPAA violations can also be brought on you if you've been found to be negligent in your training.

When texting either a patient or another practitioner, use the minimum amount of information you need to get your message across. For example, if a nurse at a hospital sends you a text about a patient be sure to use initials instead of names. Or if a patient asks about their recent test results only include non-sensitive information.

Why You Need a Cloud Phone System to Stay HIPAA Compliant

As you can see there are both benefits and problems from sending patient information with your phone. There are three main components you need to consider when sending private information to a patient.

  1. what you're sending
  2. whom you're sending it to
  3. what protections you have in place on your phone

When you take into consideration all three of these components you can ensure that you're following the letter of the law. To be sure that you're protecting your patients and their private health information double-check the number before you send it to be sure that it's the right number.

Then take a second look at what you're sending, are you sending only the minimum amount of personal information necessary to convey your message? Lastly, you need to ensure that you're using a software program that gives you the maximum amount of security for your device.

The best way to get a HIPAA compliant phone number is to use a cloud phone system. By using a phone system such as iPlum, you can get a second phone line that is fully compliant with the HIPAA regulations.

Practices everywhere are seeing incredible results by adding text communication to their office systems. You can set up automatic text alerts to go out to each patient reminding them about upcoming visits. Additionally, you can send a text to each patient that hasn't been in to see you in the past year or two.

These simple and automated benefits can increase your capacity and appointments immediately. Imagine having a full schedule and knowing that more of your patients will be there because of the reminder message.

With a new second-line app, you can realize these amazing benefits in your office. And the best part is that you won't have to worry about HIPAA compliance, because it's built-in.

Now You Can Communicate and Stay Safe

Medical practitioners need to work harder these days to have a successful practice. Your patients are busy and remembering to come in for their yearly appointments can be difficult. And when you factor in current fears about hospitals and doctors, it can be detrimental to your bottom line.

So, you need to adapt and change to keep up with the current technology. But you also want to maintain strict confidentiality for your patients and their personal health information. That's why adding a HIPAA compliant cloud phone system can revolutionize your business.

If you're ready to hear more about how our system can benefit your office, reach out to us today. We built our entire system to ensure maximum security for your peace of mind. And we're here now to show you how to use it to grow your business and communicate better with your patients.

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