The Benefits of Texting PatientsPatients these days are concerned about coming into a doctor’s office. And providers across the country are changing the way they provide care for their patients to accommodate. With that, telecommunications is growing exponentially. Many people prefer to communicate via texting over waiting for phone calls and playing phone tag. There are several benefits to implementing text messaging into your communications offerings for your patients. Some of the top benefits include:
- improve scheduling and decrease missed appointments
- improve communication and education
- better and faster communication of test results
- improve payment collections
- increase patient satisfaction and improve outreach for new patients
The Perils of HIPAA TextingThe law is very clear that every hospital, clinic, and practitioners must keep their patient information confidential and private. Ever since the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was passed in 1996, healthcare practitioners have been tasked with ensuring their patients’ private information stays private. So while you know that texting is a convenient method of communication, you still need to be careful. But you worry about texting your patients in a safe manner. And you’re right to be worried. HIPAA violations can cost anywhere between $100 and one million dollars including jail time for egregious breaches. Don’t risk an audit, even if you’re found to be compliant the last thing you want to risk is losing your patient’s trust. So, be proactive, and be sure that the system you set up is HIPAA compliant. Additionally, once you have the right system, be sure to educate your staff accordingly. HIPAA violations can also be brought on you if you’ve been found to be negligent in your training. When texting either a patient or another practitioner, use the minimum amount of information you need to get your message across. For example, if a nurse at a hospital sends you a text about a patient be sure to use initials instead of names. Or if a patient asks about their recent test results only include non-sensitive information.
Why You Need a Cloud Phone System to Stay HIPAA CompliantAs you can see there are both benefits and problems from sending patient information with your phone. There are three main components you need to consider when sending private information to a patient.
- what you’re sending
- whom you’re sending it to
- what protections you have in place on your phone