Connecting with patients has never been easier
Patients want to communicate on the go and from mobile devices. In fact, over 65% of all web interactions take place on a mobile device. Text messaging is the #1 way Americans under 50 communicate. And that goes for more than just millennials. Texting has amassed multiple generations. Healthcare providers have been feeling the pressure to accommodate this need while maintaining HIPAA compliance.
Free download: HIPAA Compliance White Paper
Is texting HIPAA compliant?
On the surface, this looks like a grey area. Texting messaging, one phone to one phone, is itself not HIPAA compliant. But let’s take a look at the fine print. If the following can be covered, then HIPAA compliant texting is possible, and best of all, legal.
- If the text messages can be encrypted
- If PHI (Protected Health Information) can be prohibited
Why are these important factors?
- No encryption means no auditing abilities. A big no-no in the HIPAA world. Encryption goes hand-in-hand with maximum security measures.
- Mobile devices are easily misplaced or lost, leaving conversations available to anyone
- PHI is protected and private. It is up to healthcare organizations to ensure privacy.
The bottom line is to do your homework and ask questions when dealing with HIPAA compliance. We recommend having an IT team to work with to ensure your website/system is under a secure firewall to protect against hacks.
Is HIPAA compliant SMS messaging right for my practice?
There are many pros to including a HIPAA compliant SMS line in patient offerings.
1. Remove hurdles that come with patient portals, emails, and phone calls Did you know that only 20% of emails are read, while on average 98% of text messages are read? Plus, patients can send you photos in real-time to address urgent ailments and get the quickest possible patient care.
2. Text messaging is a platform that patients already know how to use It’s hard enough to train and support an internal team and internal patient portal. But on top of that, patients can be confused by the redirecting and might not feel comfortable entering in private information.
3. HIPAA compliant SMS is secure The name says it all, but this simple fact and verbiage can put a patients’ mind at ease. Healthcare providers communicate upfront about the security of the conversation, giving patients peace of mind right from the start.
4. Healthcare teams do not have to use their own mobile phones There is also no need to purchase a separate mobile phone for your office. In order to stay compliant, all text conversations route back to and live in a secure chat portal. This means that only the patient needs a mobile phone for the conversation to happen, and the healthcare provider on the other side will answer from a desktop computer. One device for the patient, one device for the provider, because sometimes life is fair 🙂
How SnapEngage keeps texting HIPAA compliant
Purchasing an SMS number through a HIPAA compliant provider is the first step. SnapEngage is an example of a HIPAA compliant provider. Next, determine verbiage to let patients know they will be redirected to a secure portal. This takes out any guesswork. SMS also allows patients to remain anonymous if they so choose. The patient will be prompted to click a link to continue on a secure channel. They are redirected, and ta-da! Healthcare chat agents continue to chat from one chat portal, and the conversation remains secure.
Is texting right for you?
Think about patient demographics and how a text solution could work for them. Consider also asking current patients what they think of a secure text feature. And if you decide to purchase an SMS line, tell everyone! You can advertise the number on your website, new patient brochures, new patient check-ins; anywhere you think patients and prospective patients can find it useful. Lastly, start texting. Everyone’s doing it.