Text messaging is a speedy way to convey information. But in the medical world, mobile communications with patients are still a gray area. Practices must do everything they can to protect patients' privacy in this day and age. Failure to do so results in liability lawsuits, expensive data breaches, and loss of patient trust.
Business insurance for allied health is an important baseline protection for modern practices. But it's helpful to consider potential risks ahead of time: Should your medical practice text patients their prescriptions and diagnoses?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets firm rules for handling patients' Protected Health Information (PHI). For example, a medical practice must "maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all PHI [it] creates, receives, maintains, or transmits."
Text messaging raises some possible risks here, including:
What if a patient's device gets stolen or lost? Texting makes it very difficult to ensure the intended recipient alone reads your message. Unfortunately, text messages are not encrypted. Now, compare this to a secure portal that requires at least a username and password to access.
If your allied healthcare practice is the source of a data breach, you'll face ramifications—both financial and reputational. Perhaps worst of all is notifying affected patients of your error. Cyber insurance helps organizations deal with the fallout from a hack or breach. However, it's wise to do everything you can to avoid one in the first place.
If your practice decides to utilize text messaging, establish a strict usage policy. Possible stipulations include:
Text messages are a useful tool for confirming appointments, to be sure. But medical practices must be very cautious in extending their usage to transmitting PHI like diagnoses, prescriptions, and more. Pro tip: Revisit your HIPAA compliance and cybersecurity standards regularly.
Protect your practice with business insurance for allied healthcare. CoverHound will help you find an affordable policy for free.