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Is It A HIPAA Violation If Physicians Text Patient Information?

Texting work information to mobile devices is commonplace across all industries, but it’s a serious concern for those in the healthcare industry. Lost or stolen mobile devices containing unsecured patient health information (PHI) is a violation of HIPAA regulations. The purpose of HIPAA is to protect a patient’s private information, and any practitioner that violates the regulations faces strict financial penalties and liability. Physicians or practices have been fined as much as 1.5 million, and some have been ordered to shut down over HIPAA violations.

Use of mobile devices for texting PHI poses a number of HIPAA risks. In one HIPAA violation case, a private dermatology practice lost an unencrypted flash drive that contained patient health information. The group was fined $150,000 and was required to install a corrective action plan.

Similarly, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary was fined $1.5 million in 2012 after an employee’s laptop containing unencrypted PHI was stolen. If you’re a medical practitioner and you or any of your employees lost a cell phone with text messages containing PHI, you could face the same fate.

Another risk of texting PHI is that it could be accessed by unauthorized people, such as wireless carriers or telecommunications vendors that store texts. You would need to have a business associate agreement with those parties to remain HIPAA compliant.

However, there is a solution to securely texting PHI to a physician’s mobile device. With the miSecure Messaging app, all data is encrypted on both the transmitting and receiving end and the information is not stored on the device. This HIPAA and HITECH-compliant app allows you to create a group and securely share messages with the members in your group.

The miSecure Messaging app still allows you to receive and respond to urgent or time-sensitive messages without any delay, from virtually anywhere. You can even send secure messages to your colleagues from the app. Messages are separate from other text and email messages, making it easier to track conversations.

At Voice LInk of Columbus, Inc., our representatives are trained and tested every six months to be HIPAA compliant with use of the miSecure Messaging app. Voice Link can also generate customized reports so you can keep a record of all your messages. We can also then help build your practice and generate profits through our data-driven analytics.

Don’t take the chance of damaging your reputation or losing patient trust because you fail to have adequate safeguards in place. With Voice Link’s miSecure Messaging app, you’ll have all the convenience of texting without putting patient health information—and your reputation—at risk.

Voice Link of Columbus, Inc. was launched nearly 30 years ago in order to meet the call answering and HIPAA compliant needs of those in the medical field. Owner and CFO JoAnn Fussell was instrumental in the development of the Association of TeleServices International’s HIPAA/HITECH Compliance Assistance Toolkit because of her background in the medical field.

Operating out of Columbus, GA, Voice Link of Columbus, Inc. has earned an 82% referral rate for medical telecommunication needs, including secure messaging, call answering, and appointment scheduling services. We save clients’ time and money while improving patient communications and loyalty.

To learn more about Voice Link’s month-to-month service agreements, expert staff, and state-of-the-art technology request information online or call (800) 262-2799 for a free consultation.

 

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