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How HIPAA compliant texting improves patient outcomes

How HIPAA compliant texting improves patient outcomes

Text messaging offers a quick and seamless way for healthcare providers to distribute appointment reminders, practice updates, and other critical information to patients.


Convenience for patients

With Americans checking their phones an average of 144 times per day, texting is already ingrained in individuals' daily routines. This makes it a fast and reliable channel for delivering time-sensitive information, such as a facility power outage or a provider cancellation. 

HIPAA compliant text messaging also gives patients much more flexibility than other platforms. They can converse with healthcare providers from anywhere without changing their behavior or taking extra steps.

While a phone call requires patients to write details down, a text message makes it easy to refer back to information. 

In addition, patients don't need to learn a new app or log in to a separate portal. This eliminates any potential technological confusion or roadblocks that can delay processes. 

Meeting patients where they are makes communications increasingly accessible, which builds stronger relationships and enhances satisfaction with your practice. 


Keeps patients on track with their care

When it comes to receiving updates from healthcare providers, most patients prefer to stay in the know via text.

According to a study by CVS Health, 83 percent of patients want to receive text appointment reminders. In addition, 79 percent like receiving text prescription refill reminders. 

Practices may also consider sending patients automated reminders to take their medication, schedule a follow-up appointment, or view their test results. 

Text reminders help patients adhere to care plans and better manage their conditions. Over time, this can empower them to take a more active role in their health. 


Increases awareness and education

Text messaging can proactively raise awareness and show that you care about patients' long-term health. For instance, you could text patients about the latest offerings, services, and initiatives directly related to their condition. These might include upcoming wellness events or preventive screenings. 

Texting is also an easy way to deliver educational information. An example is providing a newly diagnosed patient with a link to additional resources on their condition. Other valuable text messages include pre-surgery preparation guidelines, postoperative instructions, or recovery tips.

As patients are more likely to lose physical documents that are mailed or handed to them in person, texting is a more dependable way to keep them engaged.

Making these messages as personalized as possible will ensure that patients feel valued. This ultimately improves patient loyalty and retention. 


Keep HIPAA compliance top-of-mind

While texting offers many benefits in healthcare, it also comes with risks. 

The Security Rule has a set of requirements that apply to all types of electronic communication, and text messages are no exception. 

Covered entities must protect patients' PHI by using "appropriate administrative, physical and technical safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and security of this information." 

First, obtain patients' written consent before communicating via text. Consent forms should clearly state the purpose of texting communication and what type of information they can expect to receive. 

Establish clear policies on secure text messaging for all staff, such as following HIPAA's Minimum Necessary Standard. This involves limiting identifiable information from texts and keeping messages as general as possible.  

The safest approach for covered entities is to sign a business associate agreement (BAA) with a HIPAA compliant text message service. 

These platforms are equipped with access controls, audit controls, and encryption capabilities necessary to protect patients' sensitive information.

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