The HIPAA regulations for SMS texting of protected health information (PHI) changed in 2013 when the Final Omnibus Rule enacted legislation within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Due to the increased number of medical professionals using personal mobile devices in the workplace (PDAs, laptops, smartphones etc.) and changing work practices, risks to the integrity of PHI were identified which would be prevented by the new HIPAA regulations for text messaging.
In order to comply with the HIPAA regulations for texting, technical, physical and administrative conditions have to be fulfilled to avoid the risk of a PHI breach. We have listed a selection of these conditions below, but the list is not comprehensive and not all the conditions will apply in certain circumstances.
Organizations who are unsure whether the new regulations apply to them should consult the following section (“Who do the HIPAA Regulations for SMS Apply To?”) or contact us to speak with a TigerConnect representative and discuss your specific situation. The conditions for complying with the HIPAA regulations for texting include:
The changes to the HIPAA regulations for SMS messaging extended who must comply with the mandated best practices. In addition to medical professionals, health insurance providers (including employers), health insurance clearing houses (including fund managers), and any subcontractor, “associate”, or third-service provider who has access to PHI (*) is now also subject to the HIPAA regulations for texting.
(*) Protected health information is frequently abbreviated to “PHI” (or “ePHI”) and is defined as “any information about the provision of healthcare, a patient´s health status, or payment for healthcare that can be linked to a specific individual”. There are eighteen “identifiers” (such as photographs of a patient, their telephone number or social security number) that are classified as PHI and covered by the HIPAA regulations for SMS.
The new HIPAA regulations for text messages have caused a few issues for organizations that have existing communication systems which are not HIPAA-compliant, but which would be potentially expensive to convert. TigerConnect’s secure text messaging system integrates seamlessly with most existing systems by allowing authorized users to access or transmit PHI through a secure encrypted network.
The TigerText application surpasses the technical and physical conditions needed to comply with the HIPAA regulations for SMS messaging. The application automatically generates read receipts to confirm that messages have been received, and produces audit logs to monitor usage by authorized users.
The secure text messaging system has been specifically designed by TigerConnect to function in a similar way to sending and receiving SMS messages, so that authorized users will have no difficulty in adapting to the new HIPAA regulations for text messages and can start using the system without training.
Organizations that have already implemented secure text messaging systems to comply with the HIPAA regulations for texting have witnessed significant benefits. Doctor/Nurse communications have been enhanced by secure text messaging and, as doctors can now receive PHI on the go with secure text messaging, efficiency rates at a number of medical facilities have soared.
Included among the case studies that can be found on our website, the El Rio Community Health Center in Arizona experienced a 22% increase in staff efficiency when a TigerConnect secure text messaging system was introduced as a solution to the communication issues it was experiencing; and the Houston Fertility Institute noted an 80% decrease in phone tag when a TigerConnect secure text messaging system with multi-platform functionality was implemented.
Furthermore, research conducted by the Ponemon Institute into patient discharges from medical facilities found that waiting times could be reduced by half using secure text messaging; with the average saving on staff costs equivalent to $557,253 each year for each medical facility.
TigerConnect provides secure, real-time mobile messaging for the enterprise, empowering organizations to work more securely. TigerConnect’s encrypted messaging platform keeps communications safe, improves workflows, and complies with industry regulations.