HIPAA-compliant uses of SMS messaging may not be as common as people think. HIPAA regulations include strict guidelines on how health care providers can use text and messaging. Some uses are perfectly fine, while others require precautions to protect patient data on all fronts.
Here’s a look at HIPAA-compliant SMS messaging and an overview of the guidelines messaging and health care providers should know about.
HIPAA-Compliant SMS Messaging
SMS messaging is a highly useful form of communication, but it can be a bit complicated in health care. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, is a set of laws and regulations designed to protect patients’ data and personal information, including via text messaging.
HIPAA regulations do not prohibit the use of SMS messaging. However, health care providers must follow the rules to ensure compliance.
These regulations rule out standard text messaging for communication about patient health information (PHI). There are some HIPAA-compliant uses of SMS messaging that any health care provider can use, though.
1. Announcements and Resources
General announcements and health resources are OK to send patients over text, just as long as they don’t contain any PHI. For example, a hospital could text patients an announcement about an upcoming flu shot clinic. Similarly, providers could use SMS messaging to send resources on current health concerns, such as symptoms of a new COVID-19 variant.
2. Promotions for New Services
Health care providers can also use standard SMS messaging to send patients announcements and promotions about new services they offer. For example, a local hospital could notify patients about cancer screening services or a mental health support group.
There are many benefits to using SMS messaging for health care marketing, such as improved communication and greater convenience for patients and providers alike. As long as these messages don’t contain PHI, they’re a great way to keep people in the loop about all the services they can access.