June 6, 2023

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HIPAA Compliant Texting: Everything You Need To Know

The minimal fine for violating the HIPAA rules for text messages is $10,000 for willful neglect of rules – even if the organization corrects the dilemma.

Can your apply find the money for the fines for non-compliance?

This posting will give you three matters:

  1. An overview of HIPAA Compliant text Messaging
  2. Two explanations to use safe messaging
  3. Some suggestions for a communication system for your organization

Let’s get commenced by covering the basic principles of HIPAA compliance for textual content messaging.

The Two Most important Parts of HIPAA Compliance: Stability and Privateness

The Wellness Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) established a nationwide set of suggestions to shield sufferers. Health care companies in the United states should comply with these restrictions in all issues concerning affected individual details.

For this report, we will only aim on textual content messages. The HIPAA recommendations do not specify what a protected textual content messaging system is, or what can make a HIPAA compliant text application. Instead, they provide suggestions for client details stability and privacy throughout all varieties of interaction.

To enable you, let’s evaluate the big sections of the safety and privacy procedures.

HIPAA Rules for Security

The US Dept. of Wellness and Human Solutions (HHS) states the intent of the stability rule extremely obviously on their internet site:

The HIPAA Protection Rule establishes countrywide specifications to defend individuals’ electronic private health information that is developed, received, utilized, or taken care of by a included entity. The Stability Rule demands appropriate administrative, physical and technological safeguards to guarantee the confidentiality, integrity, and safety of electronic protected health and fitness data.

So, listed here are the 4 key points each and every healthcare company and qualified must do to be HIPAA compliant with their text messages:

  • Assure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all e-PHI they produce, acquire, sustain or transmit.
  • Discover and guard from moderately expected threats to the safety or integrity of the facts.
  • Protect towards reasonably expected, impermissible works by using or disclosures.
  • Ensure compliance by their workforce.

HIPAA compliant messaging for you and your organization usually means you should be capable to mail safe messages, protect in opposition to threats to protection, stop unauthorized obtain, and assure all customers of your workforce use protected messaging treatments.

Privateness Specifications to Be HIPAA Compliant

The Privateness Rule is similarly vital, but has a little bit significantly less relevance to HIPAA compliant chat applications and messaging applications. In this article is how the HHS describes the goal of the privateness rule:

A major intention of the Privateness Rule is to guarantee that individuals’ wellness information is correctly safeguarded even though allowing the movement of wellness data wanted to offer and advertise high high-quality overall health treatment and to safeguard the public’s health and well getting. The Rule strikes a stability that permits critical employs of information and facts, whilst defending the privacy of individuals who find treatment and therapeutic.

The concentration is on the selection to share affected person details alternatively than on the security of the system made use of to communicate. Having said that, there is 1 particular clause that relates to messaging apps:

For inner works by using, a protected entity ought to produce and put into practice guidelines and methods that prohibit obtain and uses of secured overall health data dependent on the precise roles of the users of their workforce.

Any app or platform used for protected messaging ought to give your group the skill to set person accessibility permissions for sending, acquiring, and viewing messages so that unauthorized disclosure of affected person information and facts does not manifest.

Most Client Messaging Applications are NOT Appropriate for Shielded Health Facts

Most text messaging apps and chat applications are not HIPAA compliant due to the fact they do not provide the functions necessary to secure and regulate patient details.

Here are some examples of customer-grade apps and why they are unsuccessful to realize HIPAA compliance:

  • Zoom is a well-liked movie conferencing app. Although movie is a fantastic interaction tool with quite a few healthcare programs, Zoom was not constructed for HIPAA compliance. Online video phone calls do not have close-to-conclude encryption and accessibility to the resources essential to make Zoom HIPAA compliant starts at $2,500 per year.
  • WhatsApp is not HIPAA compliant, both. It is the 3rd most popular messaging remedy in the US for buyers, but lacks the protection features to manage accessibility to individual facts.
  • Fb Messenger is the most popular messaging option for persons. Nonetheless, it is not HIPAA compliant simply because it is made up of no safety attributes for access management, information record, and could allow unauthorized people to accessibility PHI.

So, purchaser apps fail due to the fact they really don’t deliver stability on a certain product, allow for messages to be sent to the incorrect person, and do not supply a system for approved end users and entry stage permissions.

What is HIPAA compliant texting?

There are two methods to be HIPAA compliant with your messaging. The very first is to use a protected messaging resolution constructed for health care companies. The 2nd is to put education and systems in put to make certain each and every human being in your practice follows the HIPAA guidelines to deliver protected textual content messages.

Obviously, the 1st selection is much simpler than the second. Let us chat about why you must choose the first option.

Safe Messaging that Satisfies the Protection and Privacy Policies for Professional medical Pros

When you select a safe messaging alternative, the applications you will need for HIPAA must be in position. In this article are the essential needs:

  1. Protected textual content messaging centered on encryption of facts although it is getting saved and remaining despatched. 
  2. Security of patient information by limiting access to only the intended recipient and licensed consumers.
  3. Prevention of unauthorized access by deploying protected knowledge storage actions.
  4. Availability of documents of sent messages and historic chats for auditing and compliance.

A health care messaging system must do these points for you as a basic level of performance. Something less is not likely to be compliant with the HIPAA recommendations.

Textual content Messages that do NOT Contain Client Knowledge and Prevent the Require for Safety and Privacy

It is possible to ship textual content messages that satisfy the HIPAA necessities devoid of working with a safe messaging app. Organizations can do this by just getting rid of the info about the patient and/or remedy from the message.

For case in point, in this article is how you can ship messages that achieve HIPAA intent:

  • Mail appointment reminders that only include generic info, this sort of as “This information is currently being sent to remind you of your appointment today at 11:30. If you can’t make your appointment, make sure you connect with the office to reschedule.”
  • Get penned authorization from your affected person to ship and acquire messages about their treatment. Even with this permission, someone should really still remove identifiable overall health facts from most messages mainly because it may possibly not be feasible to confirm the id of the individual utilizing the messaging app.

So, meeting the HIPAA prerequisites for sending textual content messages may well be feasible without a focused remedy, but it is restrictive and dangerous to depend on this method for numerous varieties of interaction.

What is a HIPAA compliant texting application?

Mainly, HIPAA compliant apps and program ought to meet the protection and privateness requirements routinely and by default. It’s attainable for healthcare businesses to generate internal restrictions and be compliant with HIPAA restrictions manually, but this is a ton of energy and vastly will increase the threat of a error.

A HIPAA compliant texting app will make security and privacy substantially less complicated by delivering automated controls.

Right here are the a few main means HIPAA compliant texting applications fulfill the prerequisites.

Offers Secure Texting for Mobile Equipment Quickly

A HIPAA compliant platform sends and receives messages securely. This implies the sender and receiver have their identities verified and the info is encrypted ahead of, during, and immediately after sending.

Outlets Digital Safeguarded Health Information Securely

Info storage is a significant vulnerability for several techniques. In which is your info stored? If it is saved someplace off your premises, out of your regulate, how can you ensure its stability?

A protected messaging system will store your details securely, ideally on your individual premises.

HIPAA Compliant Programs Aid Keep Compliance

Now, companies have to go further than the individual sender or message. According to HIPAA specifications, every single health care apply should make sure compliance by offering the ideal system, instruction for workers, and as a result of ongoing danger assessment.