Why You Need a HIPAA Compliant Text Messaging Service
A HIPAA text message service became a necessity for many healthcare organizations due to specific regulations in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) – relating to communicating electronic protected health information (ePHI) by text.
With technological advances and changing work practices, many medical professionals now use their personal mobile devices to access ePHI in and out of healthcare facilities – leading to the potential for a breach of sensitive patient data if a message was sent to the wrong recipient, or the medical professional lost their mobile device.
Furthermore, the use of email and SMS to communicate sensitive patient information was effectively outlawed by HIPAA due to copies of messages stored by service providers, the inability to retract and delete sent messages and the risk of a communication being intercepted in an area of publicly-accessible Wi-Fi.
The Regulations for HIPAA Texting Services
The regulations for HIPAA texting services are quite clear. All data relating to ePHI has to be encrypted and stored on a secure server. Physical access to the server and the data maintained on it must be controlled at all times, and authorized users must be assigned unique usernames and passwords by system administrators (and not created by the authorized user).
A HIPAA text message service must have the ability to remotely delete text messages and remove authorized users from the system if their mobile device is lost, stolen or otherwise disposed of, or if the authorized user leaves the role in which they were allowed access to ePHI. The HIPAA compliant text messaging service must also be established in such a way that authorized users cannot save ePHI to their mobile device or any other external hard drive.
System administrators must also conduct frequent risk assessments to ensure that policies relating to the use of a HIPAA text message service are being adhered to, and to amend such policies to account for further advances in technology, changes in work practices or the introduction of new regulations for HIPAA texting services.
The TigerText HIPAA Text Message Service Solution
TigerText has developed a HIPAA compliant text messaging service solution, which operates through a cloud based “software-as-a-service” to connect end users to the encrypted data maintained on the secure server. TigerText´s secure text message application features administrative controls to monitor access to ePHI and produces audit logs to identify any potential breach of sensitive data.
The application conforms to regulations for HIPAA texting services by having the ability to assign message lifespans to communications, so that in the event that a personal mobile device is lost, stolen or disposed of, any messages previously sent to the device will automatically be deleted.
The TigerText HIPAA compliant text messaging service solution also fulfills the technical and functional requirements of the new legislation, and is sufficiently versatile to account for technological advances, changing work practices and updated privacy and security regulations. It also facilitates secure online web access to comply with the regulations relating to emergency access procedures.
Furthermore, TigerText´s HIPAA Text Message Service produces read receipts to eliminate phone tag, enables multi-party collaboration across different operating systems and platforms, and enables medical professionals to receive ePHI on the go with secure texting.
TigerText´s HIPAA Compliant Text Messaging Service in Practice
TigerText´s HIPAA compliant text messaging service has been specifically designed for easy communication so that end users will adapt to it quickly and it will become second nature to use when medical professionals want to access or communicate ePHI.
The process for sending a secure text message is very straightforward. One authorized user sends a message containing ePHI to the secure server, where it is encrypted and saved. Simultaneously, a message is sent to the intended recipient containing a link to the encrypted communication.
The recipient receives the message, authenticates his or her identity with the unique user name and password and then clicks on the link to access the encrypted communication. A read receipt is automatically sent to the sender of the message and (optional) the communication automatically integrated into the patient´s Electronic Medical Record (EMR).
System administrators are able to oversee access to the secure server via audit logs that are produced by TigerText´s application – fulfilling the requirement that all access to protected health information is monitored and enabling administrators to make sure that authorized users are in compliance with HIPAA when texting ePHI.
The Benefits of TigerText´s HIPAA Texting Services in Action
This process of communicating ePHI via a HIPAA text message service has numerous benefits. In addition to conforming with the regulations for HIPAA texting services, healthcare organizations have witnessed increased efficiency and enhanced workflows as:
- Lab technicians can deliver test results faster with a HIPAA text message service,
- Administrators can manage patient hand-offs more efficiently using a secure texting service,
- Communications between medical professionals are enhanced by secure texting.
However, the most significant beneficiary of HIPAA texting systems has been patients. A HIPAA compliant text messaging service can accelerate patients´ diagnoses, ensure that appropriate treatment is administered at an earlier stage and speeds up recovery times.
Furthermore, in one of our case studies, TigerText´s HIPAA text message service was implemented in place of an existing overhead pager system to reduce noise levels and comply with HIPAA regulations. However, the streamlined clinical workflow and enhanced patient care also significantly improve the patient satisfaction rating at the $200 million medical facility.
Get More Information about a HIPAA Text Message Service from TigerText
We have prepared a white paper – “The Top Ten Considerations when Selecting a Secure Messaging Solution” – which you are invited to download free of charge and which contains further information about HIPAA texting services such as:
- How to evaluate secure SMS messaging solutions
- How to evaluate HIPAA-compliant technical requirements
- How to evaluate functional requirements that are compatible with existing systems
- How to evaluate vendors of secure SMS messaging systems
Alternatively, you are welcome to contact us directly to discuss your requirements for a HIPAA compliant text messaging service, or toarrange a free demonstration of a TigerText HIPAA messaging service in action.