Can You Text Patients Under HIPAA?

Texting is a fast, convenient way to contact patients and confirm an appointment time, let them know they have updates in their health records, or provide personalized health tips. Despite the convenience, however, many of us are hesitant to text patients due to fears of running afoul of HIPAA.

Fortunately, Roger Severino, Director of the US Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights, which enforces HIPAA, has the advice to ease those concerns.

How to Text Patients Under HIPAA

At the HIMSS health IT conference in Las Vegas in 2018, Severino clarified that providers can share Protected Health Information (PHI) with patients through standard text messages, as long as they follow certain steps:

1. Warn patients that standard text messaging is not secure. 2. Obtain patient authorization to use text message communication. 3. Document the patients’ consent to use text messaging.

Research shows that consumers generally prefer texting and other instant-messaging options over phone calls and emails. Texting patients is also helpful for on-the-go providers, who increasingly use mobile devices and communicate with patients outside the office.

By being transparent with patients and documenting their permission, you can take advantage of the convenience of texting without worrying about violating HIPAA.

A Radiology Information System That Supports Text Messaging

Novarad’s web-based radiology information system, Nova RIS, lets you customize and automatically send authorized text reminders to patients. With Nova RIS, you control patient appointment reminders by deciding how many text notifications to send, and how often.

Nova RIS is a completely web-based workflow and reporting engine that can be scaled to the needs of standalone imaging centers or large hospital radiology departments. Within a single platform, you and your patients can move efficiently through the radiology process, from scheduling to billing.

Interested? Contact us today to learn more or schedule a demo!

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