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What the Healthcare Industry Needs to Know About Text Messages and HIPAA Compliance

What the Healthcare Industry Needs to Know About Text Messages and HIPAA Compliance

Are you interested in investing in text message marketing for your practice? According to recent studies, text marketing generates higher engagement than any other digital marketing solution. Moreover, 50% of consumers check their phones 5+ times per hour, and 90% of consumers check their phones immediately after waking.

However, as you probably know, the healthcare industry must adhere to strict Health Insurance Probability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines.

As an industry-leading text messaging provider, we get this question all the time – is text message marketing HIPAA compliant? The answer might surprise you.

What the Healthcare Industry Needs to Know About Text Messages and HIPAA Compliance

According to California's Department of Health Care Services, HIPAA requires "the protection and confidential handling of protected health information." Under HIPAA guidelines, providers, health plans, and business associates of HIPAA-covered entities must implement proper safeguards to protect sensitive information.

Is Text Messaging in Violation of HIPAA?

To say that text messaging is in violation of HIPAA is not strictly true. According to the HIPAA Journal, "texting patients information to patients is allowed by HIPAA provided the Covered Entity has warned the patient that the risk of unauthorized disclosure exists and has obtained the patient's consent to communicate via text." However, "lack of access controls, the lack of audit controls, and the lack of encryption" makes orchestration extremely difficult.

For this reason, it is strongly recommended that your practice does not send sensitive patient information via text message.

However, there are a few circumstances where texting can be used:

  • Employers who provide onsite clinics as an employee health benefit, who provide self-insured health plans for employees, who act as an intermediary between employees, healthcare providers, and health plans
  • When the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services waives HIPAA rules for text messaging after a natural disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake
  • When the patient has implemented a solution such as a HIPAA complaint message app that has control and encryption support

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Penalties for Texting in Violation of HIPAA

Unfortunately, texting in violation of HIPPA can result in significant penalties. In fact, the fine for a single breach can cost your practice up to $50,000 per day. Additionally, healthcare organizations can face serious civil charges.


Source: HIPAA Journal

Partner With an Experience Text Messaging Provider

We understand that this all might feel a bit overwhelming. Even the most experienced healthcare practices need help navigating complex HIPAA requirements. Fortunately, when you partner with an experienced business text marketing provider, you are not alone in your text messaging pursuits.

We've helped thousands of businesses and organizations achieve rapid text marketing success and our recent study solidifies text marketing's effectiveness. In the study, we've captured mobile usage and text message marketing habits from 1,000 survey participants ages 18-65+.

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Photo: Adobe Stock/pucko_ns

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