HIPAA Compliant Texting: Tips on Patient Communication
With the number of smartphone users in the U.S. expected to cross the 300 million milestone in 2022, it’s now possible to connect with anyone at almost any time.1 This digital transformation gives healthcare providers, patients, and family members a great opportunity to communicate during and after care.
Here are some ways HIPAA-compliant secure messaging can help, especially during times when going to hospitals and medical practices in person isn’t always an option.
HIPAA Compliance Rules Explained for Healthcare
The rules for HIPAA compliance in healthcare prohibit medical providers—including physicians, nurses, and staff—within the practice from releasing protected health information (PHI) without the consent of the patient or guardian. All health organizations are required to train their staff annually on how to comply with HIPAA regulations. With the installation of HIPAA-compliant software like PerfectServe, providers can safely integrate patient communications in secure clinical messaging.
Healthcare Before HIPAA
Have you ever wondered what healthcare was like before HIPAA? Before the introduction of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did not have a National Health Privacy Law, and patients relied on laws in each state about patient privacy. HIPAA was created to set national standards to protect PHI from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.2
Healthcare After HIPAA
After HIPAA was established, medical providers had new guidelines for protecting patient information, regardless of their practice size or specialty. Today, HIPAA requires all practices to attain patient consent forms to use PHI for healthcare delivery, payments, practice communications, and other uses of PHI for marketing or research purposes.3
How Does Secure Patient Communication Work?
Traditionally, practices and medical providers have been forced to use multiple platforms to achieve secure patient communications. Ensuring all information on multiple platforms is current and correct requires more staff and time. Now, they have options to streamline the workflow for health information, provider communication, reminders, HIPAA-compliant texting, and patient records all within one platform.
Voicemail and Phone Message Prompts
Different medical practices use voicemail and phone message prompts as conduits for communicating securely with their patients. But this method of communication is often cumbersome, requiring a lot of follow-ups and tracking, which leaves the door open for missing information. Practices have often found a positive response in patient satisfaction, appointment scheduling, and overall communication when switching to a streamlined and secure messaging patient platform.
Secure Medical Texting
Smartphones are veritable Swiss Army knives these days—they’re used for communicating, maintaining calendars, browsing the internet, wayfinding, and many other tasks or activities. To emphasize the immediacy of contact when smartphones are in play, one research article indicated that 90% of people read a text message within the first three minutes, whereas emails are often overlooked.4 Allowing communication between healthcare providers through secure HIPAA-compliant texting creates a win-win for not only the patient experience, but also the medical practice managers and hospital staff.
Secure Clinical Messaging for Better Patient Communication
PerfectServe provides HIPAA-compliant secure texting solutions to empower clinicians to text nurses, physicians, patients, and family members all in one app that can include attachments, videos, and more for communication purposes. As medical providers, it’s crucial to obtain accurate, up-to-date information and reminders for each of your patients.
Text Messages Help with Patient Reminders
One PerfectServe client, Ridgeview Rehab Specialties, was able to reduce no-show appointment rates by 12.6% using automated secure text messages to patients. Ridgeview reported 6,264 no-show appointments in 2016 and realized it was imperative to make a change using new technology to streamline messaging. Over two years, the switch to secure text reminders resulted in more patient engagement and fewer no-show appointments. Overall, the facility was able to reduce no-show appointments by 792 annually with an estimated revenue gain of $138,600.5
Providers Can Message Patients on the Fly
Having access to reliable connectivity across locations makes it easy to deliver timely communication and care. Providers can use secure video, voice, and HIPAA-compliant text messaging from specialty practices to the hospital staff while using a phone, tablet, pager, computer, or landline. Organizations with more advanced PerfectServe deployments have even embedded the communication platform directly within the EHR, which allows providers to cut back on time spent toggling between devices and other apps by up to 76.3%. Imagine being able to admit a patient into the ER, receive blood work, and contact their primary care physician all within one platform.
Integrations are another key differentiator that set PerfectServe apart from similar HIPAA-compliant texting apps. Unnecessary provider disruptions can be avoided by integrating schedules with workflow engines, and integration with the EHR to incorporate information like patient lists unlocks a wide number of valuable workflow capabilities. Integration with the nurse call system frees nurses from the bedside by giving them the ability to monitor and respond to patient alerts and requests from any location, especially if they’re equipped with smartphones.
PerfectServe provides secure messaging, connectivity from any location, accessibility on all devices, embedded EHR messaging, automated routing, and improved workflows all from one easy-to-use application.
For more information, read how secure text and video messaging helped other practices communicate effectively across the care continuum.
1O’Dea, S. (2021, March 19). Number of smartphone users in the United States from 2018 to 2025 (in millions). Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/201182/forecast-of-smartphone-users-in-the-us/
2(2018, September 14). Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/phlp/publications/topic/hipaa.html
3Kibbe, C. (2001, March 8). What You Need to Know About HIPAA Now. Family Practice Manager, 8(6):43-47. https://www.aafp.org/fpm/2001/0300/p43.html
4Lane, N. (2010, June). Conversational Advertising. MobileSquared. https://mobilesquared.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Conversational-Advertising.pdf
5PerfectServe Success Stories. Ridgeview Rehab Specialities department reduces non-show rates by 12.6% with automated text messages to patients. https://www.perfectserve.com/success-stories/ridgeview-rehab/