Doctor-patient communication is no longer confined to the hospital walls. Now, the digital experience is a key part of healthcare too. Patients want convenience, easy digital interactions, self-service options, and round-the-clock access to support agents, all without any compromise on data privacy and security. Because of this, it’s critical for healthcare brands to choose a secure messaging solution for their patient communications.   

By allowing patients to manage appointments, clarify doubts, seek information on follow-ups, and avail of teleconsultation via text messaging, you can significantly improve patient loyalty. However, the associated security and privacy concerns often deter healthcare businesses from implementing these solutions. 

If you are torn between adhering to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the need to enhance patient experience, you’re not alone. 

In this blog post, we will provide you with a comprehensive overview of secure text messaging solutions and guide you in choosing the right one for your healthcare business. 

What is a secure text messaging solution according to HIPAA? 

According to HIPAA, a secure text messaging is a solution that must protect the safety, security, and privacy of all patient-related information during any communication. 

HIPAA governs all transactions between patients and caregivers to assure the security, safety, and privacy of all identifying patient information. 

Therefore, HIPAA compliance is mandatory for any text communication between doctors and patients, among doctors, and between doctors and non-medical personnel of the clinic. 

According to the HIPAA journal, any communication regarding medical information must be:

  • Safe and protected from any data theft and data loss
  • Private such that any non-essential personnel does not get access to patient information 
  • Encrypted to secure the transmitting information
  • Voluntary with explicit consent provided by patients 

Why do you need a secure text messaging solution for your healthcare brand?

Healthcare brands must ensure that they only use a secure and HIPAA-compliant medical messaging solution to protect the interests of their patients, securely store and transmit confidential information, and prevent legal complications in their clinics and hospitals. 

Image shows the benefits of secure text messaging in healthcare industry

There could be various customer-facing teams in a healthcare organization for handling billing, appointment scheduling, and medical diagnosis or treatment. This makes a secure texting service essential across teams for different reasons including:

  • Data protection: Medical bills, appointment receipts, reminder calls, refill requests, and online consultations contain confidential patient information. Using secure messaging in healthcare across the whole organization reduces the chance of potential data leaks. 
  • Building a strong reputation: Businesses that use a secure communication platform instill confidence in their practice by assuring patients that their private medical information is safe and secure. 
  • Safeguarding from legal repercussions: Misappropriating medical information, failing to secure it from data loss, or communicating over a non-secure messaging platform constitutes malpractice. Therefore, ensuring every team uses a HIPAA-compliant secure platform can protect your practice from lawsuits and other legal issues. 
  • Reaching customers safely via their preferred channel: SMS is one of the most preferred communication channels for patients. Using SMS messaging platforms without compromising safety can help you engage patients effectively. 
  • Avoiding non-compliance fines: HIPAA compliance is mandatory for all healthcare messaging tools, and failure to adhere can attract heavy fines from the governing body. 

How to choose a secure HIPAA-compliant text messaging solution?

The ideal platform for secure messaging in healthcare should be HIPAA-compliant. It must protect patient information privacy, enable audit control, provide end-to-end data encryption, allow access restriction, and improve patient experience. 

Image shows an example of SMS texting in healthcare industry

In this section, we will cover the top features your healthcare business must consider before choosing a HIPAA-compliant messaging solution. 

1. Separation of personal and professional communications 

Doctors and other administrative staff often use their personal mobile devices to share sensitive and confidential patient information with patients, other doctors, or insurance providers. While HIPAA permits such usage, it requires that the device and communication tool have security and privacy measures in place. 

That’s why secure messaging in healthcare must work seamlessly across various personal mobile devices with access control, user restriction, and tracking block features. 

2. End-to-end encryption 

HIPAA regulations mandate encryption of all patient-related communications. Messages sent through ordinary text messaging channels are insecure and prone to interception via third-party service providers. 

Therefore, healthcare businesses must choose messaging solutions that guarantee encryption across text messaging, email, and other communication channels. 

3. Prevention of disclosure of Protected health information (PHI) 

Healthcare organizations transmit PHI via text messages and emails to patients and within the organization. Therefore, the ideal text messaging solution must secure this information against unauthorized disclosures. 

To achieve this, a secure messaging solution for healthcare companies must scan messages, identify if they contain protected information, and impose access restrictions. Additionally, it should prevent message copying/forwarding and pop-up notifications. Other data loss prevention features include data breach alerts, unauthorized login alerts, and the quarantine of suspicious messages. 

These measures protect against unauthorized personnel sending or receiving confidential patient information, ensuring that PHI remains secure. 

Secure patient communication with a reliable messaging platform

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4. Access to communication history 

Healthcare businesses must maintain a complete history of all patient interactions, including those over text messaging channels. This requires the HIPAA-compliant tool you use to manage patient communications to allow your team to access all chat transcripts at all times. 

Moreover, in healthcare, secure text messaging solutions constantly back up data and provide higher uptime. Additionally, the tool must also ensure that the data is stored in a physically secure data center, safe against all data breaches, physical disasters, and unauthorized access. 

5. Access restriction 

Monitoring and restricting access to PHI is one of the most critical pillars of HIPAA. Secure messaging solutions for healthcare providers must ensure that the organization can:

  • Implement a system of user authentication via multi-factor authentication, single sign-on, and permission-based controls 
  • Alert when an unauthorized role or user attempts to access sensitive information
  • Maintain extensive activity logs 
  • Allow non-medical staff to see only a few permitted rows of information necessary to process payment, generate invoices, or send reminders 

6. Auto log off 

The text messaging solution you choose for your healthcare business must protect against data breaches and theft, particularly if the mobile device is lost or a business texting computer is left unattended. Therefore, secure messaging solutions should have a system that automatically logs the user out after a predefined period. 

If the theft is reported to the administrator, the hospital or healthcare organization must also be able to enable lockout procedures remotely.

Streamline communication with secure messaging solutions for healthcare 

Choosing a secure messaging system for your healthcare organization helps bridge the gap between patient experience and HIPAA requirements. It allows you to reach customers on a channel they expect you to without compromising the security and privacy of protected health information. 

Some key features include encryption, HIPAA implementation on personal devices, protection against data leak or theft, and customized access control. 

A HIPAA-compliant solution offering all the features helps healthcare providers build trust, prioritize patient experience, and instill patient loyalty in their brand. 

FAQs on secure text messaging for healthcare businesses 

1. How to text without violating HIPAA? 

Healthcare businesses can text their patients without violating HIPPA using a secure messaging service, access restrictions, and physical, technical, and administrative data protection measures in place. 

2. Can you send patient information via text?

Yes, you can send patient information via text if you have the patient’s consent and communicate with a person authorized to receive the information. 

3. Why is secure communication important in healthcare?

Secure communication is vital in the healthcare industry to safeguard the privacy of patients, protect confidential information from theft or loss, and comply with HIPAA regulations that mandate safe and secure communication. 

4. What makes a phone HIPAA compliant? 

Your phone is considered HIPAA compliant if the communication software or tools that you use allow access to be restricted, protect against unauthorized usage, prevent data breaches, and deploy auto-log off, to mention a few features. 

Supercharge patient communication and engagement with Birdeye 

Multi-location healthcare businesses need to handle many text messages, emails, live chat messages, and social media messages from patients and prospective customers. A HIPAA-compliant messaging tool can help you communicate freely with your patients without worrying about security threats. 

Birdeye integrates all prominent messaging channels into a unified inbox to help you access communication history, generate conversation summaries, and manage appointments efficiently.

As the leading customer experience management platform, Birdeye assures high uptime, data security, and complete integration with your CRM systems. 

Leap into a new era of patient communication with Birdeye solutions! 

Watch a free demo to learn more. 

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