HIPAA and Texts

There are some misconceptions in the healthcare industry about whether HIPAA allows texting for patient communication. Using traditional SMS text messaging is not in violation of HIPAA when the message does not contain PHI.

HIPAA does not prohibit texting. There is no rule prohibiting healthcare providers from texting appointment reminders, missed appointment notices, etc. to patients.

Healthcare providers must have adequate safeguards to ensure the privacy of patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI) – something true for ALL forms of communication with patients.

Autodialed or pre-recorded reminder calls or texts to wireless numbers require express consent from the patient.

Follow these best practices when texting patients

  • Verify patients’ contact information on each visit to assure that reminders are sent to the correct number.
  • When verifying a patient’s wireless number, specifically state that it may be used for calling or texting reminders.
  • Include a statement on your patient information or intake form stating that if a patient provides a wireless number, the patient agrees to its use for calling or texting reminders. Provide a box on the form for patients to check if they prefer to opt out of reminders by voice or text.
  • Quickly honor all patient requests that reminders not be sent to their wireless phones. All of PhoneTree’s solutions make it easy to update patient preferences.
  • Use the minimal amount of information necessary in a message to minimize the risk to patient privacy if the message reaches the wrong person.

Feel free to contact us for more information regarding automated text messaging.

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